Amazing, but true: most marketers go about things in a way guaranteed to get them less sales.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t if you want to get more replies, sales, leads – whatever.
1. Do what a salesperson would do
Your message in print or via e-mail is just a substitute for personal, face-to-face selling. If you could afford to send a persuasive human being to every prospect, you would. Nothing is more powerful.
So your messages should do what salespeople do.
This means, among other things:
Do a complete selling job. Tell the full story; all the reasons to reply, not just some. As a famous expert said over 60 years ago, “Would a salesman give you one reason to buy today, then come back and give you another tomorrow? That would be crazy.”
So do the opposite of what most people do, which is run copy as short as they can. Long copy almost always beats short
Never give up. Keep chasing people. Years ago McGraw-Hill learned it takes an average of six calls for a salesman to make a sale.
2. Emotion beats logic – even for “unemotional” products
People may justify their decisions logically, but they make them on emotion because they are all human beings. So focus on the things that drive people crazy or that they dream of, not the rational arguments.
One subject people think of as “logical” is finance. It’s boring, they imagine. So how come people kill for money – every day, all over the world?
Others think of business products as dull. So how come people at work often feel frustrated and are rude about colleagues? Because feelings come into all situations. You just have to find them and make use of them.
The best messages start with emotion and use logic to explain and convince. A good example is a famous old headline: “Last week, was I scared … My boss almost fired me.”
3. Dig deeper
Too often people know what they offer so well that they either assume the prospects knows what they are talking about, or they are themselves too bored to look.
Time and again we find revealing and powerful arguments are being ignored. In one case a client didn’t even know about the powerful testimonials his customers were giving. They were not in the marketing department, but in customer service. We found them by digging around and built a strong sales story on them.
4. Think as a buyer, not a seller. Look for the ultimate benefit
People spend a lot of time looking for unique selling propositions – quite rightly. But then they fail to translate them into unique buying propositions.
For instance, one client has the largest team of financial researchers in the country. Very impressive. But that’s not the benefit to the customer. The research means the clients will be better informed and thus able to make better investment decisions. That’s a benefit.
But it isn’t the ultimate benefit. The ultimate benefit is that the client will make more money and retire rich.
5. Compared to what?
Most messages focus on why the product or service is good – or even better.
But better than what?
Few think about what is going through the customers’ minds. They are thinking, “What can you do for me that no-one else can do?” Or, “What do you do better then anyone else?”
Unless you do answer these questions, you are failing to do a complete selling job. You are missing sales.
6. What’s the reason why?
Over 150 years ago a man called John E Powers made a fortune as a copywriter – when hardly anyone even knew what a copywriter was.
He did it by introducing “reason-why” copy.
Boasting about how wonderful you are, or explaining that you offer a better deal is meaningless unless people believe you.
So, if you offer lower prices, explain how and why you do it; if you are offering the chance to win something, tell people why you do it (to get more leads for less money).
7. Think less, act more
The bigger firms get the more they have meetings. A meeting is no substitute for action – “Search the parks in all the cities; you’ll find no statues to committees”.
One year I saw two clients on the same day in the same city. One spent six months having meetings about the copy.
The other got on with it and had a record month 6 months later. The sooner you act, the sooner you find out what works and what doesn’t.