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

marketing tips

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.

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.

3 Power Productivity Tips To Achieve More In Less Time

“My life is one long obstacle course with me being the chief obstacle.”- Jack Parr

Practically every entrepreneur I know and work with gets presented with a lot of opportunity. Their bank account is not yet where they want it to be due to lack of opportunity.

It’s due to lack of time.

In business there are good strategies poorly executed, poor strategies well executed, but rarely is there a new revolutionary strategy. The same goes with managing your time. These strategies may well be familiar to you already. It’s just your execution of them that probably needs a little work.

Tip #1 Stop Answering Your Phone When It Rings.

How can you focus on the really important things in your business when every day you get bombarded with a tidal wave of distractions? Answering your phone anytime it rings is one of the biggest killers of productivity. It’s a sure fire way to derail the plans you had for the day as you now spend it fighting fires or helping others with tasks they’re likely more than capable of handling on their own.

Please, turn your phone off. Get your calls answered by your assistant. Train your clients to make appointments to talk to you so that you can ensure you’re always well prepared for their call (and not answering questions off the cuff). I have a client VIP list – anyone who calls my office on that list gets a call back usually the same day or a priority appointment set. Anyone not on that list gets a call back from my assistant to help them, or, if they qualify, an appointment to speak with me is set which may be in 2 or even 3 weeks time. Return your calls in a clump or schedule set times like I do. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done and how much more prepared and productive you’ll be to the people you do speak to.

Tip #2 Leverage Your “In-Between” Time

Stuck in traffic? CD’s and podcasts are arguably the greatest educational invention since the yellow highlighter. They let you easily and cheaply turn your car into a classroom or a seminar, listening to one of America’s experts discussing your subject of choice. Just about every notable self-improvement or marketing and business expert, author or speaker has a variety of material available in audio form. Information on practically every topic is now readily available for download – from fitness and learning a foreign language, to improving your memory and how to grow your business. You name it and likely an audio version is available for you to listen to during otherwise “wasted” time – when you’re stuck in airports, sitting in doctor waiting rooms, or taking road trips.

Tip #3 Delegate Or Outsource Everything That Isn’t The Highest And Best Use Of Your Time.

You know the things in your business that you’re best at. It’s likely the very thing you get paid the most by your clients to do.

In my case it’s designing growth strategies for clients, creating advertising campaigns and working with my team to create end to end marketing systems. Any task that doesn’t fall into this list I do my best to delegate, or even better outsource. My administrative tasks get done by my assistant. I have two people who do all my proof reading of my campaigns, books and articles (like this one). Through a lot of trial and error I have the most phenomenal graphic and web designers on my team.

I happen to love both graphic and web design but it’s not what I’m best at. Sure I could spend the hundreds and thousands of hours to learn how to do what they do – but why bother? I’ve found three of the most talented graphic and web designers on the planet. They take my strategy and copywriting and produce visual designs that are even better than I could have imagined.

It’s the same with my private clients. Most of them hire me to help with the marketing and growth of their business not because they couldn’t learn how to do it themselves (sure they could with the right materials and time commitment). It’s because they have better things to spend their time on – things they love to do and are outstanding at doing – like spending one on one time with clients, conducting seminars, speaking, motivating staff, securing funding, bringing on new strategic partners, etc.;

The bottom line is this: Protect your time for the precious commodity it is. Leverage your time by spending as much as you can doing only those things that you’re truly the best at doing. Let the rest go. Delegate it or outsource it to the best people you can find.

Piggybacking On Other Businesses: How To Make Co-Marketing Work For You

Client-Stampede-piggyback1
Client-Stampede-piggyback1

Here’s a great marketing strategy and a step-by-step guide on how to leverage OPC (Other People’s Customers) in your business. First of all, why co-market? Co-marketing is just a fancy schmancy term for working together with another business and doing some joint marketing.

There are many easy ways you can do this.

The first way is to structure a co-marketing arrangement in what I call the “double double relationship”. You create a marketing campaign that the other business sends out to their mailing list. And they do the same.

This is really just leveraging each other’s mailing list. For example, imagine you’re a financial advisor and you have a great buddy who’s an estate planning attorney. It’s very, very likely that some of his clients could use your services, and that some of your clients could do with an estate planning overhaul. Everyone wins.

Another way is the endorsed mailing – which is where you create a marketing campaign that the company you’re co-marketing with sends out, under their name (not yours). They basically say what a swell company you are and give them some reasons why they might want to do business with you. This kind of co-marketing arrangement is particularly powerful. You’re unknown to these people, yet suddenly your credibility leaps skyward because you’re getting an endorsement from someone they know and like.

One quick word of caution about the endorsed mailing – whatever you do, never ever endorse a company to your own list that you don’t know to be honest and great at what they do -- 1000%. If you have even a shred of doubt about their ability to take care of your customers – don’t do it. It will damage your own credibility and trust relationship with your clients, and will negatively impact your business and reputation.

The third way to do co-marketing is simply to approach a company and ask if you can “rent their list”. Why would you want to do such a thing? Well, if they have your ideal clients as their customers already – leveraging the list they’ve already spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on is like leap frogging to the top of the class. Of course, you could invest the thousands of dollars and many years to develop your own list, OR you could push the easy button, shave years off your learning curve and simply “buy” new ideal clients.

Why Emotional Based Marketing Works

In my private consulting & copywriting practice, I come across a lot of people who sometimes confuse sales with marketing. They’re not the only ones. You see so-called experts get it wrong all the time: Marketing/Sales Workshop: "Sizzling Marketing Ideas to Close More Sales."

What these people are confusing is this:

Marketing is the art of getting warm, interested, live bodies sitting across the desk from you (or on the phone, or visiting your website), that you have never met before.

Sales is getting those same breathing individuals to buy from you!

I have been doing a lot of marketing research on the financial services industry recently.

So far, without exception, every one of those "marketing self help" books provides some great tips on how to better close a sale. The only glaring problem is they provide very little guidance on how to get people in front of you to close in the first place!

Why is this? For the simple reason that the industry leaders have no clue about how to market, so they focus all their energies on sales training help.

Let’s face it. Selling is a heck of a lot easier than marketing.

I'm willing to bet in your business, if I could plunk an interested warm body in front of you, that you’d do a pretty good job of getting them to try your services.

You and I both know you can sell. That’s not your problem.

Your problem is getting the people to sell to!

I’m going to let you in on a little marketing secret. The reason why most people find marketing hard, is because they use logic and “intellectual” reasons to get people to respond to them.

Instead of emotions and empathy.

Remember the people you’re marketing to have no idea who you are. They don’t know how you can help them and how immensely valuable your service is to them.

All they see is someone coming at them with another thing to sell.

But here’s the thing. If you don’t use emotion to get them interested, then they’ll never find out how invaluable you are, because you’ll never get the chance to enter into their lives.

Nobody buys anything based on logic. They make 100% of their decisions based on emotions, and then rationalize their decision afterwards!

That’s because at the end of the day, all that we humans are, is a giant sack of emotions. We’re an emotional species. We can’t separate our emotions from our thought processes. We all have very strong feelings about the decisions we make.

So why does just about every business do the exact opposite?

Because of all that marketing mis-information out there.

So how do you transform your marketing from appealing to their intellect, to their emotions?

By following these four critical rules for emotional based marketing:

  1. Getting to know your prospect’s mind, inside and out. Get in touch with what they’re thinking and feeling (which is not your product or service, I guarantee!).
  2. Talk about them in your marketing, not yourself and your company (this one is tricky because it really goes against the grain of conventional "marketing wisdom").
  3. You must first talk to them about their lives, desire, fears and wants. There will be time later to talk about what you offer. First, you have to get in the gate by making them curious and interested. The only way to do that is by taking the time to build curiosity, empathy and compassion.
  4. Not making the mistake of telling people what you think they need, instead of what they truly WANT!

Still not convinced about the power of emotional based marketing? Next time you go to make a decent sized purchase start being aware of your own thought processes.

Observe how it’s an emotional driver that makes you want to buy, but then notice how your logic kicks in afterwards, to justify the buying decision!

Marketing Strategies Target, Costco and Starbucks Don’t Want You To Know

A couple of weeks back I stopped at a local gift store in my town. You know the kind of store – racks of greeting cards, knick-knacks, stamps, gag gifts for retiring employees…. faded wallpaper and well worn carpet. As I was standing at the counter I noticed a For Sale sign. This little business has been a permanent fixture in my town for about 35 years. Intrigued I asked the owner – a woman in her late 50s, why they were selling (this was a proudly run, family owned business for more than 3 decades).

Here’s what she told me.

“We just can’t compete with the big guys anymore… they’ve undercut our prices and we can’t match them,” she said with a shake of her head.

Wow.

Hearing that made me sad.

Not because they were being forced to sell (although it always makes me sad to see a business close its doors).

Not because they hadn't come up with a marketing plan to fix their problem.

But because here was a family who spent the last 35 years of their lives building a business who’s entire marketing strategy was based entirely around price.

I guess no one told this lady that she was actually sitting on the village goldmine.

Here’s why:

People don’t want cheap stuff. They want value.

People don’t want to buy from big nameless, faceless companies.

They want to buy from people.

And not just any people, but people who care about them and their needs.

That little business likely had incredible relationships with its customers. But the problem was they didn't know how to leverage those relationships with their marketing strategy.

Instead, they relied on word of mouth, goodwill and people remembering who they were.

In this new economythat kind of marketing strategy doesn't cut it anymore.

Here are a few marketing tips of things they could, (and should) have done in a big way:

Marketing Strategy #1 They could have run monthly campaigns to people having birthdays suggesting fun themes and invites, or graduating gifts ideas sent to proud parents every May with a personalized looking letter that says “Wow! Can’t believe “little Suzy” is graduating this year – here are some ideas to help celebrate!”

Marketing Strategy #2 They could have positioned themselves as the neighborhood party planners, sending fun promotion and marketing ideas to local businesses, to help them get more clients and be successful.

Marketing Strategy #3 They could have done some joint venture marketing with local schools, creating a sponsorship opportunity for parents (e.g. buy your back to school supplies from us and we’ll give money back to your school). This is a great marketing strategy for any business where school aged parents and kids fit the target market.

Three big lessons from all this:

  • Never, ever base your value proposition around having the cheapest prices. It’s the weakest, most vulnerable marketing strategy there is (and attracts the worst kinds of customers – a.k.a problem children).
  • You have to keep marketing to your customers to give them a reason to keep coming back. How often? Far more often that you think. Remember as David Ogilvy says you’re not marketing to a standing army – you’re marketing to a moving parade. People are moving in and out of your business all the time.
  • If you’re not marketing to your customers then someone else is. ABM (Always Be Marketing). They have to buy from someone, so make sure it’s from you!

How To (And Why You Should) Use Toilet Paper In Your Direct Response Marketing

Many small businesses in America right now are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Not because they don’t have great products or services to sell (most do). But because they don’t have the slightest clue how to market themselves.

I hear from people all the time that “there’s no money” in their industry. I ask them just one simple question: “is there anyone in your industry making a LOT of money right now?" (The answer’s always yes).

So my reply is “Well, it's not your industry that’s the problem…  it's your marketing. And frankly that problem is going to follow you around no matter what industry you work in.”

Ouch.

Harsh but oh-so-true.

Ever hear that old saying “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door?”

Total garbage.

That statement was most likely made by a someone very well versed in marketing theory but with not a scrap of experience working in the trenches, never having owned a successful business in their life.

Here’s the REAL truth.

It's not the best product that wins. It’s the best marketing. And the best kind of marketing is direct response marketing.

The problem is that very, very few people know what real marketing is. I’m talking about marketing that actually works, not what should work. Real marketing based on proven “in the trenches” scientific testing, successfully used in the top 5% of small businesses in America right now.

It's time for you to get in on the action.

So I’m going to share with you two of my secret marketing strategies that are dead simple to implement and you can get started on today.

Direct Response Marketing Strategy #1 – Forget doing any more brand advertising. You've likely heard me beat this drum before but it bears repeating again. And again. Because it runs completely contradictory to what everyone else does (and tells you to do). It’s a giant waste of money, you don’t know if it's even working, it takes a MEGA multi-million dollar budget to make any kind of splash in a market, and it will grow your business at snail’s pace, (if it doesn’t bankrupt you first). Instead, embrace direct response marketing like the life raft it is on the titantic. Direct response marketing rocks. It is supremely powerful. It's changed my life and it will change yours.

And that brings me squarely to tactic numero dos...

Direct Response Marketing Strategy #2 – Start learning how to do REAL marketing to your prospects (REAL stands for Rewarding, Easy, Authentic and Loved). This is the kind of marketing that people actually look forward to receiving. Tell me, when was the last time a direct mail piece of yours was eagerly ripped open?

BUT. This means you have to have the backbone to swim against the current. It means doing things that other people might think is crazy, out of the box, even outrageous. Not long ago I created a multi media marketing sequence for a law firm that included a toy car, a roll of toilet paper and a video of a Scottish guy singing while wearing a wooly hat and a pair of boxer shorts.

One of the partners outright refused to send it.

Fortunately the other partner had a lot more sense and sent it anyway.

And....

The campaign is pulling like gangbusters.

It’s their single most successful ad campaign they’ve ever run. It’s got people talking, laughing, and most importantly calling to make appointments.

(Side note: When was the last time you ever heard the words "laughter" and "law firm marketing" in the same sentence?)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get REAL with your marketing.

Your business depends on it.

PS The original unhappy partner of the law firm is now one of my biggest fans. I've even got him reading David Ogilvy and Dan Kennedy and learning all about direct response marketing.

Why Most Marketing Misses The Mark (And How You Can Hit The Bullseye)

Why Most Marketing Misses The Mark (And How You Can Hit The Bullseye) Here is perhaps one of the most ancient rules of human nature (which most people conveniently forget when it comes to marketing their business).  If you truly understand it, it will forever transform the way you communicate with your prospects and clients, end your marketing headaches, and save you thousands of dollars:

Ready to learn this earth shattering truth?  Here it is:

The people you’re selling to are selfish. 

We all are.

They don’t care about why you’re in business; they don’t care about how pretty your brand is, how clever your tagline is, or how long you’ve been around.  They don’t even care what school you went to or what your credentials are.

All they care about is themselves.  How can they put an end to the pain they’re feeling – whether that’s a backache, feeling fat, a pain-in-the-neck ex-wife who just won’t sign those divorce papers, or sagging jowls?

That’s all they care about.

If you ignore this one simple fact - which most people do – you’re making a very expensive marketing mistake.

Here’s what most ads say: “Buy my brand!”  “We’re the best!”  “We’re the greatest!”  “We’ve been doing this the longest!” “Give me money and I’ll solve your problems!”

Where’s the appeal in that?

The best ads don’t ask you to buy anything.

They offer wanted information.

They’re rich with advantages to the users, and they make an offer of little or no risk, so the customer can find out for themselves if what the company is saying is really true.

“An ad where no one is asked to buy?  How could this possibly be successful?” you’re likely wondering.

It’s simple and these are not brand ads either.  They’re ads that are truly successful because they’re based on knowledge of human nature and how people’s behavior is predictableThat’s our job as copywriters – to know the triggers that make people want to buy – even when you’re not asking them to buy.  Some people call this Jedi mind tricks.  I call this true salesmanship and a deep understanding of buyer psychology. 

For example, imagine a man knocks on your front door with a pound of coffee and says, “We’ve got a new brand of coffee we’re launching.  Please accept this package and try it with our compliments.  I’ll come back in a few days and see how you liked it.”

“Great!” You think to yourself…”free coffee!”

The man returns in a couple of days, asks you how you liked the coffee but still doesn’t ask for the order.  He explains that he’d like to send you a state-of-the-art new coffee machine.  Unfortunately it isn’t free, but if you like the coffee he’ll credit every dollar you spend on the coffee towards the purchase of the new coffee maker.

Now you’re buying coffee and you get a free coffee machine for your money.  You’re thrilled!  Take that Starbucks!

Here’s another example.

A sewing machine maker was struggling with his marketing, and on good advice, finally stopped trying to chase the sale.  Instead, he offered to send his brand of sewing machine to any home (through a dealer), for a one-week trial.

Sounds good so far.  The difference was that these machines were accompanied by a person specially trained to show clients step-by-step how to operate them.  The ad simply said “Let us help you with your sewing projects for a week – no cost or obligation.”  It resulted in sales nine out of ten times.

You see your marketing has to be all about the customer.  Not all about you.

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!

Dread marketing your business? 5 Ingenious Strategies To Make Marketing Painless (and Profitable)

Are you a reluctant rainmaker?  You’re great at what you do and would rather much spend your days doing that… than having to beat your own drum, and rattle neighboring trees to make new business fall into your lap. If you view marketing as a pesky, annoying activity you have to get done rather than something that makes you leap out of bed every morning as you live and breathe (like me), then my friend, this article is for you.

Chances are if you groan when you think about marketing, it might be because at some level you think sales and marketing is about pushing, coercing or manipulating people into buying your services.

Ugh.

I don’t blame you if you feel less than thrilled if that’s what you think.  Fact is that’s still the way most people teach marketing but to me that’s annoying, sneaky, and very outdated.

And, in case you needed any more reason to abandon that train of thought, in this new economy, that kind of approach just doesn’t fly.

Our clients are savvier than they’ve ever been in the history of marketing.  They’re far more demanding, And they’re far more skeptical.  Real marketing is about building relationship and establishing value first.  If you’ve done a great job doing that – they’ll be the ones coming to you asking “how do I get more?”  No magic tricks, hypnosis or voodoo involved.  Just plain old-fashioned value combined with a dash of integrity and a good dose of creativity.

Here are 5 easy strategies to climb back in the saddle and make promoting your business a breeze:

  1. Give up chasing the sale (that’s the old school, old economy method).  Most companies are so busy focusing on lead generation and finding new customers, they completely ignore the ones they have, and those customers wind up never buying from them again. That’s backwards, especially when you remember it costs five times as much money to sell to a new customer than it does to get an existing customer to buy again.  Invest at least as much time and money into developing relationships with your existing customers as you do trying to find new ones.
  2. Get very clear about who you’re selling to.  Don’t think of your target market as a target market.  Think about them as a single individual – your ideal client.  Give them a name, create a profile for them so that they’re a living breathing person.  Now write all your marketing as if you’re writing just to that person.  This will prevent your marketing from sounding like a boring mass marketing.
  3. No more marketing one night stands!  Forget firing off just one marketing piece and expecting the poor little guy to do all the heavy lifting for you.  At the bare minimum your marketing should be a 3-step campaign.  Some of the most biggest (and most successful) campaigns I’ve ever done have involved as many as 49 different steps – in a range of different media.  Repetition is key.  You have to be like Waldo in your target market – popping up everywhere your prospects are looking.
  4. Create a marketing calendar for your business. This is a monthly and then weekly breakdown of all your marketing activities that you need to be doing in order to be filling your marketing funnel with qualified leads.  Marketing is a process, not an event. It’s highly likely that if your marketing isn’t scheduled to happen in advance, then it doesn’t happen (unless you’ve got a cash flow crisis).
  5. Learn how to market your business but if it’s not your true love, then, outsource it fast and get out of your own way. Some of my best private clients are themselves very good marketers, so why do they hire me to help them?  Because while they might be good at marketing, they’re not great at it – and it’s not their one supreme skill.  Their time is far better spent doing what their supreme talent is – that might be face-to-face relationship building with giant accounts, beavering away in the back room creating new products, or implementing processes and systems to make their businesses run like a well oiled machine.  Whatever your supreme talent is, that’s where you add the most value to your clients, and to your business.  If marketing isn’t what you live and breathe – that’s ok.  You don’t have to.  There are plenty of great copywriters you can outsource it to (ahem!).

But what you do need to know is what great marketing looks like, and how to tell a great marketer from just a good one.

And one final word of advice, no matter who you use to help you with your marketing, never, ever hand over the reins to them entirely.  This is YOUR business and as business owner you always need to keep a watchful eye on your marketing.  It’s the lifeblood of your business.