Sunday, June 7, 2009

Making Your Sales Copy Sizzle in Four Easy Steps

"Sell the sizzle, not the steak!"

How many times have you heard this advice, and what does that even mean? It means that your prospects need to be absolutely salivating at what you are showing and telling them. You've got to make them ravenously hungry for what you have to offer - drooling at the sight, sound and smell of that irresistible sizzle.

If they're sold on the sizzle, they'll gladly pay for the steak dinner!

Now, the suggestions I'm about to make to you are for email marketing with an autoresponder, my method of choice for building an online income. The one that I use and recommend is TrafficWave and you can try it FREE for 30 days:

But whether or not you use email marketing, direct mail, print ads or even telephone scripts, these four basic steps will improve the quality of your sales message. In time, you will build on them and become better and better at this. It's not 'hard' or 'easy'. Like throwing and catching a baseball, you're either used to doing it or not used to doing it. Once you get used to it, you'll be just fine.

STEP ONE: Have and use a clean and uncluttered work space with no distractions (such as the television, ringing phones, etc.). You need a clear mind as well. Both of these are crucial, as you are going to have to THINK. You need to loosen up, relax and get your mind ready before beginning.

First of all, only write when you are at your best. For me, that's first thing in the morning before the sun comes up. Whenever that time of day is for you, that's when you should compose your sales message - but never right after a meal or after a few drinks. You'll be sluggish.

Have a Positive Mental Attitude at all times while writing. YOU must believe in the benefits of your products and service or your prospects never will. Your attitudes and beliefs come across in your writing. Did you know that? If it helps, play some soft but inspirational music such 'Chariots of Fire', 'The Rocky Theme' or even soundtracks from superhero movies like 'Spiderman'. Maybe some gentle classical guitar or light piano classics would be best for you - whatever puts you in the mood to dream and to have that critical Positive Mental Attitude. For some, this is easily accomplished by playing a little computer game or something first to just lighten up and loosen up. For others, a walk around the block or 20 minutes on the exercise bike does the trick.

Do whatever works the best for you - just do it. Now you can start thinking...

So now that you are mentally centered and ready, you can take a proven and time-tested approach to crafting your piece with plenty of 'sizzle'. The first thing you do is take a sheet of clean white paper and draw a line down the middle. One side of that line list every single feature of your product or service. On the other side, list every single benefit. Features and benefits are two different things. By the way, this might be a good time to mention that you should scribble down ideas whenever and wherever they spring to mind. I have shoe boxes full of post-it notes and other scraps of paper with headlines, key sentences, key phrases and such that just came to me at one time or another. When something like that comes to you, write it down! The famous song writer and entertainer, Willie Nelson, once said "I've forgotten more great songs than I ever remembered to write down."

The next phase is similar. Get another sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. In one column, write down every imaginable problem that you think your prospects might be facing. In the other column, come up with every solution that your product or service provides.

Now grab a third sheet and make those familiar two columns. On one side, list every objection that you think any prospect might have to buying your product or service. On the other side, list the answer to every one of those objections.

By doing this, you have accomplished two things. You have thoroughly educated yourself about what you are selling and why and you have also taken the first step in writing convincing copy that 'sizzles' because you understand and believe in what you're saying.

Remember, at this point you are simply producing stream-of-consciousness words and phrases that have feeling behind them. Don't worry about anything else right now.

STEP TWO: Now that you know your product (very important!), you need to know who your prospects are. In the advertising business, they are called your 'target audience'. The fact is, whatever you have to sell will only appeal to a portion of the marketplace. You must tailor your message for those most likely to have a problem solved by what you have to offer.

Think of it another way. What motivated you to buy, use and promote the item in the first place? What was going through your mind when you signed up for the program, bought the product, downloaded the software or whatever it is that you are writing about? What impressed you about it or otherwise convinced you to buy? This is vitally important because your target audience is a whole bunch of people just like you!

In short, don't write sales copy for a general audience. Write it for the target audience. As an example, what I use, teach about and promote are marketing tools, money-making programs and the strategies and overall philosophy behind them. Because the vast majority of Internet Marketers are new to the business, I tailor everything towards them. I don't market to the veterans of this industry. I have a target audience - it's the 'newbies'.

You may choose to specialize in marketing to a different audience such as college students, retirees, church-goers, military people, single moms or what have you. The KEY is to go back to Step One in order to get inside their heads, identify their problems and write copy that explains who your product solves those problems.

And when writing to any particular demographic or category of people, let your words flow from the heart and don't tell any lies. Always be sincere! If Step One is done properly, you'll never have to lie.

STEP THREE: OK, here are some sales letter basics that are equally applicable to website design, phone scripts, newspaper ads or just about anything else. Make sure to review this checklist as you start organizing your thoughts into an actual sales piece that 'sizzles'...

1) The headline is everything! The primary benefit to the reader MUST be contained in the headline. If you can't answer the question 'What's in it for me?' in the headline, then you've already lost them. Ideally, your headline must accomplish a second goal. It needs to force your prospects to stop and think about it. It must be what is known as an 'interrupter'.

2) The first paragraph, or whatever ad copy that immediately follows the headline, must be just as strong as the headline. A good tactic is to simply restate the headline in different words. If you got them with the headline, you must hold them with the first paragraph. Be bold in what you say and always appeal to emotions, specifically the emotions of your target audience.

3) From there on, keep the reader's attention with action-oriented copy that uses lots of picture-painting verbs like 'Create your own business' and 'Discover these age-reversing secrets'. Paint mental pictures that are exciting and emotional and you will keep the reader's attention..

4) Keep the copy flowing with simple, short sentences. Never use big words. Use sub-headers and white space to break it up so that your message isn't one long block of copy.

5) Keep the ad clean and professional looking. Avoid fancy borders, cute cartoons, rainbows and other visual clutter. Keep it clean and direct - and make certain that your grammar and spelling are correct! If your piece looks like an amateur created it, nobody will buy your offer.

6) Have a strong close with a Call to Action. People like being told what to do. Tell them to 'sign-up today' and offer a bonus if they do it now. In fact, some kind of a 'bonus' or 'free gift' is just about mandatory these days. think and be creative!

7) Always, always, always include a p.s. People have way too much competing for their attention as it is and many will simply skip to the p.s. to get the 'summary' of what they didn't feel like reading all the way through. So what you do with the p.s. is basically restate the headline and remind them of any bonus or free gift that you are including.

STEP FOUR: Whenever possible, tell a story - especially about yourself. Remember that you are painting mental pictures with words and your keyboard is the paintbrush. People are more likely to buy from someone they 'feel' that that they know.

Your entire sales letter can be a single, gripping story that merely serves to rivet the reader's attention until and including the brief sales blurb at the end. Do NOT underestimate the power of a personal story!

Alright, so let's review...

~ You want to become as familiar with your product as possible - i.e. an expert.

~ Put the biggest benefit up front and get the prospect agreeing with you early in the ad by saying something like, "You and I both know what it's like to face a bill collector' or 'I know you've believed the lies too many times to ever be fooled again'.

~ Tell your prospect how your product solves their problem, tell them how to buy it and then tell them what to do after that.

~ Educate your prospect and answer their questions in your sales copy.

~ Use words that trigger emotional responses and paint mental pictures of the prospect's problem being solved and keeps reinforcing it.

~ Be professional and keep it both visually clean and easy to read.

That's it. These basics are all that you need to know in order to start writing sales pieces that actually convert and get the results that you desire. Keep at it, keep learning, never doubt yourself and keep getting better. Very soon, everything you write will SIZZLE - I guarantee it!