Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

How do I get clients

The Marketing Secret Of How To Sell A $19 Shirt for $89

Picture this. You’re thumbing through the pages of a slim, elegant, catalog that arrived via mail earlier in the day.

The pages feel crisp to the touch, and you notice how vibrant the illustrations are. Captivating even. You glance over and something catches your eye.

A European-styled, heirloom leather satchel. Its mellow leather beckons to you. Brass fittings glinting in the sun harkening back to a by-gone era. It’s the kind of satchel that would have been casually tossed into the back of your father’s 1932 Auburn V-12 Boattail Speedster; perhaps an unread Hemingway novel inside.

“Hmmm, possibly…” you murmur quietly to yourself.

You thumb slowly to the next page.

Your eyes transfix upon a gently sketched blue shirt, its sleeves half rolled up, the hemline gently blowing in the cool spring air.

You read the description:

A Montana Shirt

He rode to Great Falls in the autumn of 1880, another rich kid from the big city. The locals harrumphed, “Montana ain’t St Louis. Once the shine wears off, he’ll be gone quick as a duck on a Junebug.”

The “shine” wore off.

He stayed.

He tried raising sheep; lost every sheep in the herd. Tried hunting; similar success. He lived a while with the Blood Indians. Taught himself how to paint.

He didn’t wrestle with the existential questions; didn’t know there were any. He painted what was around him. Grizzlies, buffalo, rustlers. life.

In his own words: “I am an illustrator. There are lots better ones, but some worse. Any man that can make a living doing what he likes is lucky, and I am that.”

Men like him don’t travel in herds. You find them one at a time.

A Montana Shirt (No. 3682). “I made it with yarn dyed pure linen, and upon close observation, a very small checked pattern, because it was a feeling I had. Buttons are Trocas shell. Flat felled seams. Two-button adjustable mitered cuffs with top stitching. Shirttail hem with gussets at side.“

Men’s sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL Colors: Open Range Blue Price $89

And that, Dear Reader, is how you sell a shirt that would ordinarily sell for a mere fraction of the price, at top dollar. Sight unseen. Gladly paid.

The strength of your sales copy is everything.

5 Easy Ways To Get Your Prospects Off The Fence

“I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.”-Bo Bennett (author, businessman and motivational speaker)

Umm let me have a think about that and I’ll get back to you,”

How many times has someone told you that? (Of course you never hear back from them again.)

If you’re getting push back from your prospects about your prices, or stalling tactics – then this article is for you. The good news is that it likely has nothing to do with your prices or your abilities but it has everything to do about your actual sales process and how you market your business. It’s likely you either don’t have a good one, or you have gaping holes in the one you’ve got that are making people clamor to safety.

The simple truth is that most people tell you “they’ll think about it” for 2 basic reasons:

1) You haven’t given them enough information to enable them to make an informed decision

2) You haven’t given them a compelling reason to jump off the fence now (as opposed to next week or next month)

Here are 5 easy ways to strength your sales process,improve how you market your business, increase your conversion rate and help more people make better decisions about using your services:

1) Prior to any sales appointment or big in person meeting, send them a “Shock n Awe” kit. This kit contains valuable information about your services, your clients and your accomplishments. In every way it should surprise and delight the prospect – think of including an expert audio CD, a special white paper you’ve written on a topic of interest, a copy of your book. Get creative and make this a fun package for people to receive.

2) Script your sales process. Forget “winging” the call. Every top salesperson in America uses sales scripts (usually memorized). Its because they work. Most people don’t even prep before an important sales call, let alone use a script. If this is you then its time to tighten up your process, get some sales scripts crafted and watch what a difference it makes to your conversion rates.

3) Follow up after the call. Just because they say "no" on the phone, doesn’t actually mean no. It just means "not now."Once someone has raised their hand, keep marketing to them again and again. Use a combination of email marketing (better than nothing) and creative “drip” direct mail campaigns (the most persuasive).

4) Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Give them a reason to jump off the fence today. Otherwise expect them to “stay put” until they feel they’re ready (by which time you might be old and toothless).

5) Take away the fear for them. Everyone is petrified of making a wrong decision, especially in business. No one wants to waste their money on a lemon and sadly because so many businesses are mediocre at best – most people buy expecting to be disappointed. In my copywriting and consulting business, practically every client we work with has horror stories of working with other marketing companies. Big promises, poor delivery. Impotent sales copy that completely missed the mark. Missed deadlines, bad quality, horrid graphic design – the list of battle scars is long in our industry. So we flip this on its head, and instead of expecting our clients to take all the risk by using our services – we take on the risk by guaranteeing our services. Either they love working with us and are thrilled with the results or we’ll refund their money. That’s unheard of in our industry. But you can see how it immediately takes the fear away for a prospect. If you truly believe in the value of what you do then why wouldn’t you offer a bold guarantee?

How to Create Viral Videos Worth Sharing

Not so long ago, a friend shared a link with me on Facebook.

The video recording quality was grainy. The audio was out of sync with the video. The props were cheap. The film set was non-existent. The result?

A viral video that was viewed almost 40 million times, and shared 23 million times, in 12 months. When I shared this video to my wall, I immediately got two responses — one that said, “Wow, I wish I was their client.

Unfortunately, there was no chance of that happening (since the video maker was a dental practice in London, South Carolina and my wishful friend lived in northern Michigan). But the video maker had achieved the holy grail — a viral video that doesn’t just entertain, but ATTRACTS NEW CLIENTS.

So, what was so magical about a video for a dental practice? I mean, seriously. Is there a less sexy business? Few businesses create such a uniform groan from their patients when it’s time for your appointment. Big companies spend hundreds of millions creating videos that they hope will have a tenth of the social engagement that this video had. So how did they do it?

1. Use lots of humor. Self-deprecating is always good (as long as it is in good taste), but other good uses of humor include showing familiar things in a humorous light.  Remember the e-Trade baby? That set of hilarious viral videos was first launched eight years ago, and still remains the most effective ad campaign in its history.

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2. Keep the videos short. And entertaining. There’s a reason Instagram limits its videos to 60 seconds or less. Effective viral videos need to be fast and furious. The second they lose their humor, or momentum, the audience is lost.

3. Be as human as possible. The days of slick corporate ads are long gone. People want to feel real connections with the business they buy from and the products they use. My dental video example couldn’t be less polished and less “unprofessional”.  Yet it’s wildly successful. Why? Because the dentist is being “real”. If you are familiar with my Client Stampede marketing, then you will know that creating personality-infused marketing is at the heart of every uber-successful ad campaign.

So to recap on the formula for viral video success. You don’t need expensive camera equipment.  Or professional lighting. Or fancy video editing. Or special costumes, in order to make a viral video, viral.  As with any marketing for your business, it’s all about the message. What are you saying, in a funny, entertaining way, that resonates deeply with the audience?

 

(Oh and the dental video I’ve been referring to? You can view it here:

 

 

What an African Lion & Restoration Hardware Can Teach You About How NOT To Run Your Business

A couple weeks ago I ordered a new desk chair from a Restoration Hardware catalog. Here’s the sales copy that sold me:

1950s French Metal Wire 26" - 32" Stool

Dating to the mid-20th-century, our French metal chair hails from the offices of a Paris museum – a work of modern art in its own right. With a nod to iconic design forms, it has a scooped seat and curved back made from heavy gauge wire grids padded with optional leather-clad cushions, sold separately. Adjustable seat height and lumbar support adapt to each individual. Six ball casters make it as agile as it is comfortable.

Sounds pretty cool right? I thought so – so much so that I even ordered the 1940s French Factory Work Table (writing desk) to go with it. And that’s when the problems started.

Now I happen to love Restoration Hardware – I think the quality of its furniture and sense of design is pretty hard to beat. But its customer experience sure leaves a LOT to be desired.

Here’s what happened next. After placing my order I received a cryptic response email that made me have to pick up the phone and speak to a warm body to make sure my order went through. It apparently had but, unfortunately, both the chair and the leather cushion I had ordered were no longer available (even though their website said they were).

I then got passed around like a hot potato from one rep to the next.

After 45 minutes on the phone I was ready to abandon ship, cancel my order and forget I ever laid eyes on the furniture. I was not a happy camper. However at the last minute my order went through and I was relieved to have survived the ordering ordeal.

That was until the scheduled delivery time for my order. Neither my desk nor my chair showed up. Exasperated I called back. “Sorry but those items should have been delivered. We have a record of them leaving our warehouse.” Well, fat lot of good that does me. Some truck driver somewhere is writing his award winning screen play, likely with his muffin top spilling over his tight blue jeans, plonked on my wire chair.

I was told, “Sorry Ma’am we don’t have any more in stock. They’re on back order and should arrive in about sixty to ninety days.” Sixty to ninety days? Really? I’m guessing someone had to walk back to China or India or wherever the chairs are made for that kind of delay.

I received barely an apology and no offer of free anything – no “Here’s a gift certificate for your troubles,” or “We’ll refund your shipping fee.” None of that.

Now one thing you need to know about Restoration Hardware is how it positions itself in the marketplace.

Here’s the sales copy taken straight from the website: “We operate as a curator of the finest historical design the world has to offer. Our collections of timeless, updated classics and reproductions are presented consistently across our sales channels in sophisticated and unique lifestyle settings that we believe are on par with world-class interior designers.”

It’s no doubt a luxury brand but frankly I’ve had better customer service from a grumpy pre-menopausal counter clerk at the Post Office.

Restoration Hardware has great marketing, and uses powerfully persuasive copywriting coupled with gorgeous imagery. It offers top quality products.

But that’s about where the wheels start coming off. It couldn’t have made it more difficult for me to give them my money. And their customer service stinks.

This business reminds me precisely of the “Situational Awareness” photo from my cousin.

It’s so eager to find the next big opportunity in its business, it has lost sight of the thing that could take the company down: lousy customer experience.

Restoration Hardware isn’t the only business that does this. Most do to varying degrees.

The lesson is this: always looking for bigger, better opportunities to grow your business is great, but never lose sight of what made your business great in the first place.

Are You Using Emotionally Charged Marketing to Get More Clients? A Case Study About Chinese Women and Their Body Hair Issues

The other day I was reading through one of the business magazines I subscribe to. It was an early Sunday morning and, with a cup of coffee in hand, I was just casually thumbing through the pages. At the bottom of the page my eye caught a little article about Chinese women and their “body hair issues.” Intrigued, I read on. Turns out Chinese women don’t have body hair issues; at least they didn’t until the company behind Veet hair removal cream decided to launch their product in China in 2005. Unfortunately for the company, sales were sluggish. The product was considered too pricey and the product size too big. The biggest problem though? Most Chinese women have very little body hair and those who do didn’t worry about it.

So the company changed its marketing strategy. It started rolling out ads equating hair-free skin with beauty, health, confidence and “shining glory.” In the process the company has made every Chinese woman more conscious of every stray follicle.

By “educating” its customers and encouraging “fuzz phobia,” Veet is now the fastest growing brand in China for its parent company Reckitt Benckiser. Hair remover sales in Asia are rising 20% annually, almost double the rate of women’s razor blades.

This marketing strategy of getting women to focus on their perceived flaws is not a new one. Actually it’s about as old as the hills, but here’s the reason it’s so effective (not just on women – but on everyone).

We all base our buying decisions on how an ad, promotion or product makes us feel. Not on what it will do for us.

As human beings we are all hard wired to want the same things. We can’t help it – it’s in our DNA. We want things like better health, more money, great popularity, improved appearance, praise from others, more comfort, more leisure time, a happy life. If your marketing can whip people into a lather by appealing to one of these deep desires – you’ve got gold.

It makes no logical sense for Chinese women (who are possibly the least follicly challenged among us), to become the fastest growing users of hair removal cream. Chinese women are not buying based on whether this makes logical sense. They’re buying because of their desire for an improved appearance and happy life. They want to feel beautiful by buying the product.

This isn’t just a woman thing either.

Men buy the same way. Think about your neighbor down the street who goes out and buys himself a new Chevy Silverado truck, fully loaded. He tells himself that it’s because the truck has extremely good towing capacity and a long truck bed and it will be a safe ride for the family. But his real decision to buy is an emotional one – he loves the way this big new truck makes him feel. Tough. Strong. Powerful. He likes getting the approval of his friends and neighbors who nod admiringly as he drives past. He loves the excitement on his kids’ faces as they climb into the cab and ogle at all the shiny new buttons and heated leather seats.

The take-away for your business is this: To really create powerful marketing, you need to supercharge your sales copy with emotion – not logic. At the end of the day, as human beings, we all want the same things: To feel good about ourselves and to be happy.

So if people aren’t getting excited about buying your product or service, it’s likely not because of anything other than that you’re marketing to them the wrong way. Emotionally charged marketing is the fastest way to “manifest” desire. That’s the real trigger that gets people to buy.

As Mark Twain said, “There’s two reasons a man buys anything. The reason he’ll give you… and the real reason.”

The 5 Biggest Copywriting Mistakes (And How To Fix ‘Em’)

“I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes.”-Philip Dusenberry

There are a lot of definitions about what copywriting is and isn’t. Salesmanship in print. Writing to sell. Salesmanship multiplied. Or my personal favorite, persuasion writing.

Advertising would well and truly be extinct if each of us could talk to our prospects face-to-face. But as we can’t, our advertisements have to do the job and get the word out for us.

That’s why good copywriting is the oxygen of your business. Get it right, and the sky‘s the limit. But get it wrong, and your business is banished to the ranks of the mediocre, the forgotten, and the ignored.

Here are the 5 biggest copywriting mistakes, and how to fix them:

1. “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” Howard Gossage

One of the worst things you can do is write copy that’s boring to read. If an honest reading of your website or new client brochure makes your eyeballs dry up, or triggers an urgent need to go to the bathroom – then just image how your poor prospect must feel. Remember, you can only interest a person into buying your product, you can’t bore them.

2. Build the relationship first, ask for the sale second. As a direct response copywriter, I see many examples of bad marketing that rush the entire sales process. In this new economy, all buying power has returned to the consumer. And they know it. You can’t just expect to trundle out a cart full of your wares and have people flocking to buy them. That may have been how it worked in the boom days of the early 2000s, but certainly not today. Today, marketing is all about building relationships first. Your copy has to carefully do the same, not rush straight to the close.

3. Don’t ever try and make your copy apply to everyone. You have to niche your message along with your market. One of the biggest mistakes I see is using ad copy that is worded so generically, it doesn’t apply to anyone in particular at all. This is very bad. At first blush you might think the more people you can fit into your marketing message, the better. Wrong. Quite the opposite. The more you tightly target your marketing message to resonate with a niche, the higher the response rate. This goes back to the first point. People will only read what interests them. If you’re a retired dentist with $2 million in investable assets, 3 grandchildren and a condo in Florida, you’re far more likely to read ad copy that specifically “talks to you.”

4. Make your advertising valuable. Few people understand this extremely important point, which is why most advertising falls on deaf ears. Nothing screams out “I want to sell you sell you something” more than an advertisement that looks and sounds like an advert. That’s why writing copy that sounds like an editorial piece, using white papers, or creating a helpful animated video will typically attract a much higher level of viewership.

5. Incorporate unquestionable copy into your proof. Most copy is seriously devoid of all proof but full of empty, hollow sounding promises like “we’re the leading experts” or “your trusted provider”, etc. We’re so used to reading these claims they wash over us like tiny ocean ripples swirling around our ankles. Unnoticed. One of the strongest elements of proof is, of course, proof in your product itself. A bold guarantee to back up your promises. Legions of testimonials to say what you can’t say yourself. A product demonstration even. Proof is usually the most often overlooked aspect of any copy. If you can find a way to add it in a compelling way, it can transform even the most meager of ads into the mighty.

The 5 Helpful Marketing Tips to Write Better Ad Copy

Tucker the American Bulldog (my other partner in crime) has been hurling his guts out for the last couple of days.  Must have eaten something iffy.  So I have to make this week’s article short – I’ve got one eye on him now to make sure he doesn’t chuck up on Bella, (my favorite bean bag) while I’m talking to you. Short n’ Sweet, here it is: 5 Copywriting Tips to Write Better Sales Copy.

  1. Fall in love with your product or service.  If you don’t love it, you can’t sell it.  Ask my Mom about that one (she refuses to work with any client who doesn’t wholeheartedly believe in what they’re selling).
  2. Know your target market.  Study ‘em, sniff ‘em, scout ‘em out.  If you don’t really understand them you can’t sell to them
  3. Don’t ever be boring.  If your first paragraph doesn’t get you all hot and heavy and lathered up into a frenzy, then don’t expect your prospects to feel any differently.
  4. Don’t try and impress with big fancy words. Using big words don’t make you look like a Top Dawg, they make you look like a douche.  Talk so people can understand you.
  5. Be very clear what action you want someone to take.  Should they go fetch a stick?  Bark at the neighbor’s dog next door?  You decide what that is, but whatever it is, spell-it-out.  People aren’t as smart as you think.

That’s it from me!  Adios-ruff!

Bear

What To Do When People Aren’t Buying

The huge sea change of marketing a business is well and truly upon us.  What used to make people buy in a frenzy, today has people yawning, reaching for the delete button, “unfriending,” and changing channels. Simply put, people aren’t buying the same way they used to.  I’ve noticed a big difference in even the last few years, which is just another reason it’s essential you stay on top of your marketing with fresh ad copy, fresh offers, fresh content.  There’s no such thing as set and forget!

Today’s emerging new economy consumer is far pickier, far more suspicious and far more nervous to part with their hard earned cash. Understandably so.  We’re in the trust damaged and post recession world.

If you’re struggling with getting more clients, then here are 5 valuable marketing tips to help you get things cranking again.

  1. Is your message getting lost in translation?  You might be surprised to discover that a large number of your prospects are simply not buying from you because they don’t fully understand what you do or, most importantly, how it benefits them.  A rewrite of your value proposition and companies core messaging (to answer questions like “Why should I do business with you versus any and every other business out there?”) – will do wonders for your business.  Clarity is everything.  But a clear message worded in such a way that deeply resonates with your target market is magnetic.  If your business hasn’t got your messaging perfected then it doesn’t matter what media you use and what market you choose – people aren’t going to buy like they should.
  2.  Are you following up?  C’mon now, really? Out of all the hundreds of companies I’ve written copy for, coached or consulted with, I can count on four fingers the number of businesses that had a robust follow up process for those people who said no.  Remember that old adage that people don’t care what you know until they know how much you care?  Couldn’t be more true in the new economy.  The more steps, and the more media your follow up encompasses, the more effective it’ll be.
  3. Make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.  Most times people decide NOT to buy not because something is too expensive, but because they’re scared they’ll be stuck with a lemon. One of the secrets to getting people to buy is to make it easier for them to say yes than no.
  4. Hold a focus group of your top clients and find out if what you think is important to them really still is.  Get your finger on the pulse of the people you’re marketing to.  Dive into the trenches with them.  Go hang out at their offices for a day.  Read what they read.  Join the groups they join.When writing copy or marketing a business, I spend at least 50% of my time digging around the target market, researching it in depth and getting my thinking in line with theirs.
  5. Write a great sales letter.  If people aren’t buying, maybe it’s because your sales pitch hasn’t hit the right note, or maybe your message isn’t reaching enough people.  The great, late copywriter Gary Halbert said that there’s no problem that can’t be fixed by a great sales letter.  It’s very true.  A well-written sales letter has been the tipping point for many businesses (just ask the Wall St Journal who used the same sales letter for 28 years and earned more than a billion dollars with it).

The bottom line is ­– if your prospects aren’t buying, it’s your marketing that needs work.  Sometimes just a fine tune is all that’s needed.  Other times it’s a complete overhaul.  Remember – your prospects are going to buy from someone so make sure it’s you!

Direct Response Success!

Today’s Direct Response Copywriting Tip comes to you from under the desk (not the couch).  This is where my writing inspiration runs the highest (plus I get first option on any lunch scraps that happen to fall from the heavens). Today I want to tell you a short story that illustrates the importance of testing and tweaking in your marketing.

My Mom has been working with one of our private clients over the last 5 months developing a brand new niche for them (they’re pediatricians looking to move into the branded health food supplement market).

We developed a great little marketing system for them that included this very cool sales letter wrapped inside a miniature plastic trash can (my suggestion for the record, was to wrap the letter inside a rawhide bag but  that didn’t fly).

Anyhow, this one little sales letter was pulling about a 4% response rate (not too shabby when the industry average for direct mail is less than 0.5%.

But here’s the kicker.

By tweaking just one tiny thing in our letter (and I mean tiny) we got an additional 2% in response rate.  Two percent!!!

That’s like a lifetime supply of Milk Bones!

When you hear what we tweaked you’ll be stunned.

It really was tiny.

Ready to hear what it was?

On the outside of the envelope (remember this was a bulky mail item with the little trashcan inside), we used a big red stamp that had just 4 words written on it – FOR YOUR EYES ONLY!

Amazing, huh?

So there are the big lessons in all this for you:

1)    Always track your marketing so you know what’s working and what isn’t

2)    Always be testing to try and improve your marketing results

3)    When it comes to writing copy, little things really can make a BIG difference

4)    You humans are a weird unpredictable bunch – who would have known that one silly red stamp would get so many more of you to raise your hands!  No wonder copywriting can be so complex!