Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Death By Perfection

G'day Friend,

I'm not a perfect guy.

Truth be told, I have a large number of imperfections. I can be rude, blunt, and sometimes pretty dismissive. I'm also quick to get heated, sometimes.

I feel uncomfortable writing that, but I'm being honest. I use some vulgarity in my writing (as you'll notice in my other writings), and I don't suffer fools lightly.

It's disappointing, because I try to be tolerant and level-headed. And typically, I pull it off. But that's for the sake of being polite.

Well, screw it.

I'm just myself. And I wanted to tell you that.

BUT, what's the point?

This: being YOU, just you - warts and all - will make you more attractive to customers. Not only that, but it'll make your business FAR more profitable, and attract to you the kind of people you want to work with.

Listen, people KNOW when you're not being yourself. There's an awkwardness to the way you speak, or a "blank," when you don't quite understand how to proceed on that train of though.

There are just obvious, gaping holes in your writing and presentation when you're not being you.

So why not just be you?

Let your personality shine through your marketing and your copy. Let readers see "You" (or at least, the "you" which is your client, if you freelance).

People are attracted to people. And the moment you start showing them that you're a person - that you put your pants on the same way, one leg at a time- the hotter they'll be for you.

Anyway, that's all I have time for - sorry for the briefness.

Over and Out,

Angel

Monday, February 14, 2011

You're Talking - Are They Listening?

G'day friend,

Sorry for the delay. I broke my daily post vow. Let's see if I can get back on track. It's a fresh new week - I hope the weekend has seen you to good health.

Happy V-Day, by the way. (Just in case you forgot)

By the way, if you didn't take advantage of the fact today is V-Day, especially if you own a restaurant, a florist shop, or anything or that sort... You should give yourself several hundred lashes. Right now. A big, fat, burst of profit to be made. And to make that profit, all you had to do was send a postcard. I mean, that's not so hard, right? Yeah, of course not.

Anyway, enough preaching from the pulpit. If you don't mind, I'd like to jump right into this.

My topic today is something near and dear to my heart- conversation.

You know, I swear... When I read the copy some people write, I feel like they're speaking to me from a podium. And not speaking to me in an inviting, "faux-conversation" sort of way. Really, I just feel like I'm being told something.

That's a no-no. See, whenever you're writing, you're trying to imitate face-to-face selling. Makes sense, right? I mean, copywriting is "salesmanship-in-print" or "multiplied selling."

If you sold anything face-to-face or on the phone, I'm sure you know what's the one thing you MUST do... Can you guess? Don't worry - take a swing at it.

Build rapport? Precisely, amigo.

And how do you build rapport? Conversation!

Look, I've covered "research" in some depth. I have a few posts dedicated to just that subject, so I recommend you look through a few of the back-issues.

But truthfully, even if you know your prospect SO WELL he thinks you're sleeping under his bed... It means NOTHING if he feels like it's a one-way conversation.

The goal is this: you should make each sentence "feel" like it's being spoken. Be casual. Write as if you actually ARE speaking to someone. Read your writing out loud- read it casually, with all the question marks and exclamation points...

Would you REALLY talk to someone like that? If not, then you drop it. Because the MINUTE your prospect picks up on the fact this is all artificial - that you're "talking at him," he's going to toss your letter... delete your email... or click away from the page (no matter if you have 30 downsell mesages).

OK, would you like an example? You rascal.

Well, you should have one right now. Take a gander at my writing. Pretty simple. You should be trying to gauge each sentence. The sentence itself must be organic. Once you do that, the words flow into sentences, the sentences into paragraphs, the paragraphs in more paragraphs... And they do it all seamlessly.

The best advice I can give you is "writes likes you talks," warts and all. I mean, you can clean it up after you're done. That's the beauty of typing/writing letters.

Anyway, hope this helps you. Do some practice, and you'll get the hang of it.

Over and Out,

Angel

PS. By the way, another great way to get better at "clear" sentence flow is to handwrite the successful ads of other copywriters. Try and capture their ebb and flow.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Biggest Lie In Copywriting

G'day Friend,

Probably gonna piss a few people off today. But oh well. That's how it is.

Listen, I've seen pretty much every book on copywriting. Heard every guru speak. I know what they all have to say about the one big thing - the "most important thing" - in copywriting: your headline.

Now, there's a few truths I want to share about headlines. But I won't do it all in this post. Otherwise, it'd be 30+ pages. So we'll keep it simple.

The first thing I want to mention is this: a great headline can't save a bad offer.

Now, on the flip side - a great offer never gets read if there's a bad headline. But a "good" headline works just as well if you've got a great lead and ass-kicking offer to the right market.

Look, if you've got a GREAT headline... I mean, this thing is magically, sinfully good... That's fantastic. But if your offer ain't worth the paper it's printed on, then the headline is pretty much crap, too. The whole ad is crap.

So, what's the "offer"?

1. The product
2. The bonuses
3. The price
4. The ETA (estimated time of arrival)+ MOD (Method of deliver)
5. The Guarantee

(I'm sure I could create an awesome acronym out of that)

For example...

I am going to sell you the Uber-Wrench. Uber-wrench shoots lasers and can weld.

That's pretty cool in itself, right?

But for the $99.99 you'll pay for Uber-Wrench (plus $10.57 shipping), that's all you get.

For the right market, that could be enough. But the right market (because I promise you, white collars guys or dudes who never fix their own stuff will never even know what this is) probably would not be so hot to dish out $100+ for a friggin wrench. They gots a wrench. It works good. Why should they be giving you their waterbill money for a fancy wrench?

Puts things in perspective for you, doesn't it? Remember... when they give you money for one thing now, that means they have to use money for something else later.

SO, let's sweeten the pot a bit.

"With your Uber-Wrench, I'll include 3 free gifts - together, they have a total value of $127. They are... BANG (something they want)... BANG (something they want).... BANG (something they want). But you want pay the total value of this package, which is easily $226.99... You'll just invest the $99.99 in the wrench itself, and I'll throw everything else... absolutely free! And if you invest before XX/XX/XX, I'll even strike another $20 off your package, for a total of $79.99!

Not to mention, you ever get my 9-month "No-Risk" guarantee. So if you think the product is not worth it after 9-months, I'll give you a prompt and courteous refund of every penny.

You'll receive the entire package via UPS Ground in just 5-7 business days."

Wow. That sounds MUCH BETTER than "Give me $99.99 for the Uber-Wrench," doesn't it?

A quick note about the bonuses:

1. The bonus should be something they would actually WANT
2. The bonus should be capable of selling by itself on its own merits
3. The bonus should not be outrageously valued UNLESS it has been sold at such a price before

Look, if you've a lot of credibility with your list - you can get away with not having those 3 qualifications. But it's going to be an uphill battle.

Anyway, keep all of this in mind. It'll make your ad a heckuva lot better.

Over and Out,

Angel

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Eminem Can Teach You About Selling

G'day Friend,

The other day, I started listening to rapper Eminem again.

Now, whatever your feelings about the guy... his brilliance cannot be denied. Considering he went from trailer-trash broke in a pre-dominantly Afro-American area... And now has several albums that have gone platinum? He's considered one of "the greatest rappers of all time." Definitely one of the most successful, at least financially.

My point is, this guy knows his stuff. He knows how to go from zero to hero.

Anyway, I was watching Eminem's movie, 8 Mile. Great film. I highly advise you check it out. (If anything, it's a great underdog story).

I don't want to ruin the film, but there's a scene at the end. If you've seen it, you'll know what I'm talking about.

In this scene, Marshall/Rabbit is in the middle of a rap battle with the current champion of the underground rap scene. This guy has gone up against various rappers and torn them apart. What happened in these battles was pretty much ripping the other person apart through rap lyrics made up on the spot. (Freestyle rap).

Throughout the course of the movie, Rabbit has endured serious hell.

A friend of his had a sexual relationship with his girlfriend. Another friend, a mentally handicapped guy, accidentally shoots himself in the leg (everyone jokes it's a more "private" part he shoots). His white-trash upbringing is put on display and made a major joke all the time.

Lots of stuff.

So, here he is... Up against "Papa Doc," the guy who is champ of the rap scene. More than that, he's the leader of this group that has tormented him. This group has been responsible or involved in a lot of his hardships during the film.

Now... he knows this guy has a lot of ammunition. A lot of private, damaging information. Stuff that he couldn't counter and was absolutely true. The crowd would eat it up.

What does he do?

HE tells them.

He tells the crowd everything about himself - fundamentally making his entire rap about all the terrible stuff he's gone through.

And then, he has the "cojones" to tell them at the end... He doesn't want to win! Screw it. And go ahead, "Papa Doc," tell this crowd something they don't know about him.

He drops the mic and walks off stage.

And what does his enemy do? What CAN he do? There's nothing to say. No ammunition. Nothing he could say they don't now know.

.... Now, what happened? What did he just do, that is ALWAYS talked about in marketing and selling (particularly copywriting)?

Two things:

1) A damaging admission

People are more willing to trust you if you share something personal. If you don't put yourself on the pedestal as flawless, people think more kindly of you. They WILL trust you.

Frank Kern - again, don't care how you feel about the guy - has said before that he proudly displays his controversy with the FTC. Why? Because it builds trust. It's a "damaging admission" that gives you more credibility.

2) Take-Away Selling

People absolutely, unquestionably, RABIDLY want what they can't have. Or the less you want THEM, the more they want YOU. That's the entire secret behind the pick-up artist world. It's why women want the "bad boy."

If that makes you angry, get over it. You do the same thing.

The more desperate you seem, the more repelled people are.

Like Dan Kennedy said, "People want to deal with successful people."

Are successful people begging for business? No. And the less apparent you are - the less critical you make someone else's compliance in your eyes - the more they want to become important to you.

And Eminem/Rabbit did it brilliantly.

Anyway, get the film. I won't reprint the lyrics here... lots of vulgarity. But check the movie out at Blockbuster or something.

Over and Out,

Angel Suarez

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why I Steal My Customers Shoes

G'day Friend,

Well, I hope you enjoyed yesterday's post! It's the first of several ad critiques to come. I may even begin critiquing the stuff I get in my mailbox. That could be fun.
(I actually get some pretty great pieces).

Anyway.

Today, I'll be talking with you about a subject near and dear to my copywriting heart: stealing my customers shoes... so I can wear them.

See, the truth is... you can't sell anything, to anybody, without walking a mile in their shoes. Now, do I literally steal their shoes? No. I couldn't handle the bad publicity. But I do work very hard to understand my prospects. I work harder at it than most copywriters could imagine.

(70+ pages of notes, a "Prospect Psychology" analysis, a fully "functional" fictional person from my target market, and a slew of other things).

Why? Why all the friggin' effort to just get someone to buy a $47 DVD? Because people WILL NOT trust you... if you don't understand them.

"Nobody cares how much we know until they know how much we care."

A trite statement, but very true.

The most important - yet least glamorous - part of copywriting is research. All the sales arguments, all the techniques and strategies and offers... None of it means a damn thing if your prospect is a blue-collar worker who hates your white-collar attitude/language. They want you to share experiences with them.

People want kinship.

Man finds joy in man.

Your copy, your advertising and marketing, has to speak with them in the same tone as a friend would speak to them. They have to trust your voice like they would trust their friends recommending something to them.

It's tough. It'll take about 50-75% of the time you spend on a project. Now, if you're pretty familiar with the market... the time may be shorter.

If so, you need to be constantly updating it. Pay attention to what they're paying attention to. See how their beliefs change or are reinforced.

So, what do you need to know?

1. Their beliefs.

How they feel about you, about the product (or products in your category), about their situation (what your product relieves).

2. Their desires.

What do they WANT? What's their endgame? What keeps them up at night, indigestion boiling in their stomach?

3. His MO (Modus Operandi)/Behavior

What does he act like, when faced with the above? When you bring his beliefs and desires together, how does he react?

This is pretty much anticipating his objections.

By the way, the "Customer Psychological Analysis" sheet should look like this:

"Frank is a Right Wing Conservative. He doesn't like the state of the country. He saw what happened to Vietnam and to a lot of his friends. He doesn't believe in depending on anyone or letting anyone control your life.

As a result, Frank feels insulted or disgusted by an "obvious" attempt at handholding. He wants to feel like he has made a decision on his own merits, but with subtle guidance."

Of course, you'd make it more productcentric. How he feels about different things and how they influence his view of your product/service.

But notice... I didn't say "my market feels..." I said FRANK feels. You need to do this. It's vital. You don't want to see your market as a big, amorphous blob of dollar bills. You need to see them as people - individual people - with hopes, dreams, and desires.

Why?

Because you're not speaking to an amorphous blob of people. You're speaking to each person, individually, in their home. And while talking to you, that's the only person you should be speaking to.

Keep that in mind.

Over and Out,

Angel

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Three Little Capitalististic Business Owning Pigs

G'day Friend,

Every night, I tell my daughter a story before bed. Maybe I'll make it up off the top of my head for her. Maybe I'll read a book to her (Harry Potter, An Island Called Liberty, The Last Unicorn, etc). Or maybe she'll tell me a specific story she wants to hear, and I know. Then I'll tell the tale.

Well, one of her favorite stories is "The Three Little Pigs." And honestly, this story always fascinates me.

Why?

Because in this story, you have these three pigs. They all decide they want to do the same thing - build a house to live in. So one builds it from the straw, one from sticks, and one from bricks.

Well, when the Big Bad Wolf comes along... he EASILY blows away the houses of these two other pigs. But the enduring, superior construction of the third little pigs house is just unfazed by the wolf's attack.

In the end, the other two little pigs sought shelter with him and followed his example. They began to build their houses out of bricks, too.

The wolf was soundly defeated.

So, what's the correlation? How do these little pigs represent business owners (among many other things, like lower, middle, and upper class)?

Let's start here:

-Straw House Piggy - This pig was two things:

1. Lazy

2. Cheap

He wanted a house, but he didn't want to put in the time and resources to have a good house. He just build one and hoped it would "chug along."

This is like the person who gets into business "just to be their own boss."

(Uh, bud... doesn't that mean you're still an employee? Kind of a vicious cycle there)

-Stick House Piggy-

This piggy WANTED a nice, stable house. He even put some work into it. But truth is, he was a little scared. What if the brick house didn't hold up? What if it bombed?

A whole assortment of things with this piggy. He's where a vast majority of business owners are.

People like this usually can BECOME brickhouse piggy after years of encouraging influences.

-Brickhouse Piggy-

Notice who everybody runs to when things go to shit, eh?

Brickhouse piggy has set up his barrier. When the 'wolf,' the economic difficulty - the business cycle turning - comes 'round, he's ready.

This is the entrepreneur, steadfast. His marketing has been stronger; trackable.

In the end, the other two piggies, after seeing the virtues of the brickhouse piggy, decide to follow in his steps.

So, in your business... have you set it up to be a straw house, stick house, or a brickhouse?

Which little capitalistic piggy are you?

Over and Out,

Angel

PS. Sorry for the short post. It's on the late side, and I've been busy today. But I thought I share this quick insight with you.