(Transcript continued from the Episode 128 show notes and audio podcast)

My wife is an amazing pseudo-amateur photographer. I say pseudo-amateur photographer because she has professional photography equipment, very high end, we shoot Canon. All of you Nikon people out there, don’t stop listening, this isn’t going to be all about Canon. We have a lot of very good Canon gear that she uses to shoot fantastic photographs. Mostly, as a super mom, her subjects are our fantastic children, but she has recently gotten into shooting birds and she likes to shoot landscapes. She’s doing all kinds of stuff like that.

She has taken over a quarter of a million pictures in the last few years. As the IT professional in my house, I am responsible for making sure that those pictures get backed up. One of the things about camera equipment is that it’s incredibly expensive, at least that’s how I feel about it. Particularly lenses. Lenses are finely crafted pieces of glass. The pieces of glass in a lens can have various shapes, but they look like stacks of very precisely crafted pieces of glass, like out of magnifying glass. They’re refractive lenses. They’re incredibly expensive to manufacture to really high tolerances. When you buy a really good lens it has been essentially hand crafted. There are a lot of machines involved, but it’s really a hand aligned, hand crafted thing where lots of technology has been used to build this thing. It’s a serious piece of equipment.

These lenses can cost thousands of dollars because of the way that they’re manufactured. When you buy a lens, especially if you’re an amateur photographer, it’s a big commitment. (Again, I use the term amateur just to say that my wife doesn’t make money with her photographs, she does it as something that she loves, that’s pretty much the only thing that is amateur about her pictures.) You’re spending thousands of dollars on this piece of gear.

Lenses are the kind of thing that oftentimes you’ll have sort of a personal relationship with. Not only will they be either perfect or not for the thing that you’re doing, you get attached to these lenses. It’s hard to decide what lens to buy next sometimes. What we do oftentimes is we rent lenses before we buy them so that we can test them out.

Circling back around to marketing; there is this company that she rents lenses from and I cannot get over the kind of marketing that this company does after the sale. The name of the company is ATS Camera Rentals and you can find their very nice website at ATSrentals.com. Their slogan is, “Dedicated to the details.” They rent video cameras, lenses, regular cameras, and other expensive production equipment. This can be very helpful if you’re wanting to try a lens before you buy like we’re doing, or if you have a big job coming up and maybe you’re a freelancer and you don’t want to buy the gear that you need to cover this big job, you can rent it from ATS.

Capital equipment rental is not something new, this is something that has been going on for a long time. Big companies like GE have had entire divisions dedicated to leasing capital equipment. This business idea is not a new idea, but the way ATS is delivering customer service and doing their marketing is quite amazing. I’ll just give you two examples that I think you might find instructive for whatever it is that you’re doing in your business.

Paula is a smalltime customer for a company like ATS. She has rented a couple of lenses, maybe three to five lenses, maybe a camera or two. Yet every time she rents something from them she gets a personal handwritten note from them telling them that they hope she enjoys the product, let them know if she has any questions, hand signed by the guy in shipping who actually packed the box. You can imagine when you’re shipping a lens, packing the box is probably the most important job in the whole company. A lot of times there’s a piece of candy taped to the note. It just leaves Paula with this impression that these people at ATS Rentals really care about her and what she is trying to accomplish with her photography.

Get this. She has reached out to them on Twitter, they follow her on Twitter. They’ve put together the fact that with her recent rentals she has been photographing birds. I’ll put a couple of her bird photographs in the show notes for you to check out some of the bird photos she has been able to get recently with some of the lenses that she has rented from ATS.

They comment on this, “We hope you have a good time shooting birds with this lens.” On the last one they actually drew little pictures of birds on the note. These are hand crafted thank you notes to Paula as a customer. This is a fantastic example, you can call it customer service if you want, but really it’s remarketing to existing customers.

The way they do it you really get the feeling that they’re doing it because they actually care about customers. For whatever reason that they’re doing it, the marketing result is that Paula is never going to rent a lens from anywhere else. If they have what she needs and it works in terms of the timing, because it has to ship back and forth since it’s an online lens rental place, she is going to ATS for the rest of forever.

My question to you is what are you doing for your readers, or customers, or fans that makes them feel like you love them? We feel like ATS Lens Rentals loves us. That’s such an amazing level of customer service. I challenge you to be more like these guys in the shipping department over at ATS Rentals and do something special for whoever it is you’re serving in the marketplace.

11 Essential Copywriting Tips

Last week we had tremendous excitement with Terry Dean and he told us all kinds of things about email marketing. That’s Episode 127, if you didn’t get a chance to listen to that, I highly recommend that you check that out from last week. In that episode one of the most impactful things that Terry talked about was this three step formula that he describes for email marketing, a recipe for writing great emails. What Terry was talking about is email copywriting.

It turns out that copywriting is a super important skill that as an affiliate marketer you are going to need all of the time. We’re really talking about persuasive writing, how to write words that get people to do the things that we need them to do in our business, that we know will be good for them, that will help us make money. Whatever your approach to thinking about this is, how do we effectively write things that will encourage and convince people to take action, particularly the action that we want, these calls to action that we as marketers are trying to get people to take?

It turns out that copywriting is a long studied thing that you can read books and books about how to write effective copy. As you know, one of my friends Ray Edwards is a master copywriter. We’re going to talk about Ray’s particular method for writing excellent copy next week. This week I wanted to give you 11 of my favorite tips. I’ve been writing about copywriting for some time, because as an affiliate marketer you need copy if you write ads, any time you write a headline, if you write a sales page, etcetera. If you write a blog post where you’re trying to get someone to click on an affiliate link, you’re writing copy.

What I wanted to prepare for you today are 11 simple tips that you can use right now, today. Something that you can actually internalize and go do to make your copy better today. Let’s get into it.

#1: Craft a Great Headline

My first tip is one of most commonly offered tips in copywriting, that is to spend time crafting an absolutely killer headline. Why? Because more people are going to read your headline than anything else in your copy. That is the very first thing they’re going to read at the top of the page. That is the thing that is going to either consciously or subconsciously determine whether or not they read the rest of your copy.

There are lots of strategies around how to write good headlines, about whether or not you should use numbers in your headlines to stop people’s eyes, about whether you should be benefit focused in your headline. I just want to say for you as a quick and simple tip, don’t just mail it in when it comes to writing a headline.

Here’s the test that you can use. If you were to read your headline, would it make you want to see what else is in the article, what’s below the headline? If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” you’re not done. Keep writing headlines until you get something that you really like.

Here’s a bonus tip for fantastic headlines. Go ahead and copy any fantastic headlines that you see and put them in Evernote. We call this a swipe file in marketing. If you see a great headline that makes you go, “Wow,” jam that away in Evernote.

When it’s time to write a great headline you can scan that file and use it for inspiration. We’re not talking about stealing and using exactly the other person’s headline, but when it comes time and you need ideas you can be inspired by a headline about a recipe for fixing your plantar fasciitis, that headline inspires you to write a great headline about how to improve your tennis serve.

Another test that I always hear about whether or not you’ve got a great headline is if you were to put your headline and your phone number only in a classified ad in a newspaper, just those two things, and you publish that in the back of the New York Times, would people call you? That’s a great idea. If your headline is really good, people would be picking up the phone. If you’re not there yet, work a little harder on your headline.

#2: Use the Power of Storytelling

The second tip that I want to give you to improve your copywriting is to tell stories. It’s so important that you develop this skill of telling stories in your copy, whether it’s blog posts or email.

Last week Terry Dean hit this really hard. In fact, his major strategy for email marketing that he shared with you was to start every email with some kind of story, something to draw the reader in.

This is a really important idea, because stories are not only engaging but they’re also entertaining. Having a story there will draw your reader in and help get them through the copy, which will give you an opportunity to make whatever points you need to make and do whatever marketing that you need to do.

If your copy is not engaging, people are not going to read it. The easiest way to engage people is to tell stories.

#3: Inject Your Personality Into Your Copy

Tip number three, I feel strongly about this one, inject your personality into your copy. Just like it’s important that you tell a story, I think it’s important that you tell that story with some color that comes from and is informed by your own actual life. People identify with that and it makes your copy seem real and trustworthy when you take the time to actually let your personality come through in your copy.

Brand personality, for whatever it is that you’re doing, is one of the things that helps you to form your unique place, your unique selling proposition, your unique voice in the marketplace. It’s really important that you go ahead and inject a little, or in some cases if it really fits well with your offer and the thing that you’re trying to communicate maybe a lot of your personality into your copy.

One thing about this is a lot of times if I talk about injecting personality into copy people will say, “Mark, what if people don’t like me? Here I am putting my personality into something. What if people don’t resonate with my personality and they don’t like me?” I’ll tell you that this actually can be a good thing, because when you put your personality into your copy one of the things that you’re doing is down-selecting the people reading your copy to the people that know, like, and trust you. Let me tell you, those are the people that are most likely to buy from you.

The next obvious question is, “If I only talk to the people that actually like me and want to buy from me, what if there aren’t enough of those?” To that I say that is the magic of the internet. That is one of the things that make online business so amazing. With the billions of people in the world you only need to find the very few of them, the tiniest percentage of them that will know, like, and trust you and actually want to buy your product, whatever it is you’re writing copy for.

They’re out there and the internet makes it possible, unlike 50 years ago, for you to easily find them. You don’t need to put a sign up on a telephone pole to find people anymore. You’re on the internet, so you can afford to find the people that really resonate with your message and your personality, so stick that personality into your copy.

#4: Appeal to Emotions

Here’s an age old copywriting tip that you will hear from literally every copywriter on the planet. Make sure you’re appealing to people’s emotion. It doesn’t matter whether that emotion is fear, greed, jealousy, insecurity. Whatever emotion people are feeling related to the thing that you’re trying to sell, make sure you tap into that and connect with what it is that your reader is feeling when they think about solving the problem that is solved by whatever it is that you’re offering them.

It’s very important. You need to amplify that so that they can understand that what you have to sell is important and what the benefit will be whenever you solve their problem. By benefit in this case I mean the emotional relief or the emotional feeling that they’re going to realize, whether it be a feeling of satisfaction or what have you, when they actually use your product.

I think when we write copy we have this tendency to want to construct a logical argument about why someone should take the action that we’re advocating that they take. That’s fine, I think you do want to do that, but you can’t make it just about the logical reasons to buy this thing.

Sometimes we buy the car not because of its four star safety rating, we buy it because we love the way it looks or we like the way it feels when we’re driving it, or maybe we like the way other people see us when they see us driving it. All of those things are emotional things. Those are real, people really have those emotions and you want to tap into those so that you can help people solve those emotions with whatever it is that you’re offering.

#5: Make Your Copy Visually Appealing

The fifth tip that I want to offer is to make sure that your copy looks good visually. By looks good I don’t necessarily mean super fancy and looks amazing like you’ve had an artist design your copy. What I mean is that it works well for people’s eyes. Some of the ugliest copy in the world has been some of the most successful, so I’m not really talking about making sure you have beautiful pictures embedded in your copy.

Rather I mean is your copy constructed visually so that it pulls people through it, is there plenty of whitespace, is it a good font that is easy to read, does it have nice lists and other itemized things in it that people can scan and skim, including headings and subheadings, and maybe visual cues like a few arrows here and there that draw people down through the copy so that their eyes keep moving down the page and they get to the information that you want them to get to.

If they TL:DR your copy (too long, didn’t read), then the chances that you’re going to convert them to whatever action it is that you’re trying to convert them aren’t very high. You need to make sure that it’s not exhausting to read your copy. The best way to do that is to make sure that it’s set up visually so that it’s easy to skim, easy to get from point to point through the copy, and that its visually appealing.

#6: Use Their Language

Tip number six is to make sure you’re talking your customer’s language.

If you’re a doctor and you’re trying to sell something to patients, you want to make sure that you’re using the language that is appropriate for patients. Don’t roll up in there with your copywriting and start using words that your patients don’t understand or don’t use. That won’t work.

By a similar token, if you’re a marketer and you don’t have experience in the basketball niche and you’re trying to sell something related to basketball, you better make sure that you understand the kinds of words that people use when they’re talking about basketball.

It’s important to persuade people in that way so that they’ll identify with the copy that you’re writing, but it also goes to this idea of authority. You might say, “Mark, I’m a marketer. I can’t be an expert in the language of all the different kinds of things that I’m trying to promote.” To this I say oh yes you can. Not only can you, but you must.

If you’re a copywriter for hire you need to spend time interviewing your client to understand everything that you can understand about the product, and then go interview their customers. If you’re the client, if you’re writing copy for yourself, you need to spend time with your customers, whether it’s via a survey, whether it’s getting on the phone with them, talk to them.

When they use language around why they buy something or what made them interested in your product to begin with, or what they really like about the product, what the product does for them, they’ll use specific words. You need to make sure those specific words show up in your copy. So tip number six is make sure you’re speaking their language, use the words that your customers use in your copy.

#7: Focus on the Benefits

Tip number seven is another age-old one that you’ve heard many times, but I really want to bring this home. You have to focus on the benefit.

Like the car example before, I know it has a 17 point antilock braking system, that’s the feature. It has advanced technology this for braking and it has a collision avoidance this, that’s the feature. The 17 microprocessors that will make sure you avoid a collision are a feature.

The benefit is it keeps you and your children alive when it’s raining outside and you didn’t see that car going through the intersection and it stops the car. That’s the benefit, you get to live. The feature was this 1,000 point engineering plan that brought that particular antilock braking system and the collision avoidance system into existence. All of the engineering that went into that is the amazing feature. The fact that it has a cool blinking red light on the dash whenever it’s working, that’s the feature. The benefit is your kids are still alive.

When you write copy you have to focus on the benefits. That’s what sells. It’s how people are going to feel when they use your product. It’s the pain that they’re not longer going to have when they use your product. It’s the thing that they’re going to be able to do that they could never do before when they use your product.

Those are the benefits. The features are how they get there. You need to talk about the features in your copy, but you need to focus on the benefits.

#8: Have Intrinsic Value in Your Copy

Number eight is to make sure your copy has intrinsic value. By that I mean make sure that when you’re writing copy, especially long form copy, that your customers feel like they’re already getting something.

This is true whether you’re doing very long form copy, like a webinar, a video sales letter, a regular sales letter, anything where there is room to deliver value. Go ahead and deliver value inside the copy. It makes the copy more engaging and it makes the prospect feel like they can trust you.

#9: Ask “Yes” Answered Questions

Number nine is actually a tip that has been around for a long time and you’ll see sales people do this on television and in infomercials, and if you’ve ever gone to buy a car.

You’ll see that when salespeople and marketers are asking your questions they will ask you a series of questions to get you to say “yes” over and over again. The idea is by getting you to say “yes” to several things in a row it’s going to get some yes momentum to get you to say yes when it’s time to make the purchase. This is sort of a copywriting psychology kind of thing.

You can see this in real life. If you see someone speaking persuasively, once they have the audience nodding yes during their presentation that audience is hooked and engaged. They’re buying whatever it is that the speaker is selling. You want that same kind of nodding audience effect in your copy to get your readers to say yes.

Now, skeptical people, people with scarcity mentality around the issue of selling, a lot of times they’ll say that’s manipulative, using people’s psychology against them in order to get them to buy is very manipulative and you shouldn’t do that. That’s a separate show for another episode where we can talk about these kinds of limiting beliefs and how they might be holding you back in your marketing, but let me address this one of psychology right away.

What I’m saying is if you’re offering something that will help someone, whatever that is – a cure for plantar fasciitis, you have something that you know will really help people and it’s in an ebook for $29.95. These people are legitimately in pain, they’ve been paying or maybe even unable to pay hundreds of dollars, $100 a visit, for a physical therapy to solve their plantar fasciitis, and you have an ebook that will solve that for them and you’re trying to sell that online. You are actually trying to help people and deliver value in your business.

I’ve told you at least a million times that I think in order to have a legitimate business you really need to be delivering value. All I’m suggesting is that you do that in the most effective way possible. You are not proposing a one-way value extraction between you and your prospective customer. You’re not saying, “Give me your money and I’ll not give you anything in return.” Hopefully, what you’re doing is you have this business where you’re going to deliver massive value and people are going to happily exchange money for that value that you just gave.

Being effective in how you cause that transaction to happen, there is nothing unethical about that. That’s a whole other podcast episode and I’ll get down off my soapbox about that. Tip number nine, ask some questions of your reader and get them in a mode to say yes so when it comes time to buy they say yes.

#10: Include a Strong Call to Action

Number 10 makes me laugh, because a couple episodes ago we were talking about calls to action. It’s really simple, in marketing you have to make sure that you ask for the sale.

Include a strong call to action. You can’t leave it to their imagination about what they’re supposed to do next. You want to them to mash the button right now so they can start understanding the benefits of what it is that you have to offer immediately. That’s your call to action.

In this episode my call to action in just a minute is going to be for you to take a couple of these tips and go make one of your blog posts or something where you have a call to action better. That’s going to be my call to action for you, because that will allow you to achieve more success.

You have to know what your call to action is and make sure that you are making a very direct and specific call to action that doesn’t leave it to the prospect’s imagination.

A lot of people in marketing, especially when they’re first starting out, are afraid to ask for the sale. Somehow in their past history they’ve been told that selling is slimy or that they should feel guilty for selling, or it makes them feel like a used car salesman. If you’re delivering value, you want to get that to as many people as possible. If you have a cure for cancer, you want to cure as many people as possible.

I know you’re probably not marketing a cure for cancer, but really it’s a matter of scale. You are marketing something that helps people, that delivers value, you want to help as many people as possible. It’s really that simple. In order to do that, you need to ask them to take the action that you need them to take.

#11: Use a Formula for Organized Writing

My final tip for today is that you need to organize your writing with a formula. If you’re writing copy of any kind, you need to be following some kind of well thought out formula in that copy.

Last week Terry Dean offered you a formula where he talked about telling a story for the hook, delivering value, and then having a call to action at the end of the email, a three step formula.

That’s kind of similar to Dan Kennedy’s old formula of problem, stir things up, offer the solution. It was called PAS – problem, agitate, solution – that he taught for many years. In that case you’re operating on the idea that people are going to act to make sure that they get out of whatever pain that they’re in. You make sure you remind them of what their problem is, you agitate around that problem and in sympathetic way say, “This is a really bad problem.” “This extra weight you’re carrying is keeping you from playing with your kids. It’s going to mean that you don’t live long enough to see your grandkids graduate from college.” Whatever it is, make sure that pain is put in front of people. Then you offer a solution to solve that pain. That’s Dan Kennedy’s method.

Whatever your method is, you need to have one. As it happens, I mentioned Ray Edwards at the beginning of the show, he has an absolutely amazing formula for this that I think is much better and much more broadly applicable than Dan Kennedy’s PAS formula. We’re going to talk about that next week. There’s not enough time to talk about that this week. I’m going to teach you a way to think about copywriting next week that is going to help you based on Ray Edward’s stuff.

Those are your 11 tips for copywriting. You need make sure you have a killer headline. You have to get their attention. Then once you have their attention you want to (2) tell an engaging story and (3) do that with some personality. Make sure your personality is injected into that story.

While you have their attention make sure you’re (4) activating and appealing to their emotions. Really get them involved with what it is that you’re trying to talk about and the future that you’re trying to show them. While they’re reading you need to make sure that they keep reading, so you need to (5) make sure that your copy is visually appealing, has nice visual cues, bullets, and lots of whitespace so they don’t get exhausted reading it.

In that copy you need to make sure that (6) you’re speaking the customer’s language, using the words that they actually use. It gives you credibility and it keeps people engaged. As you’re describing the thing that you’re delivering, make sure (7) you’re focusing on the benefits of that thing, not just the features. (8) Deliver value right there in the copy, it will help people trust you and give them a good feeling to go forward with whatever transaction it is that you’re proposing.

(9) Ask micro questions to get people to take micro actions that get them to yes. (10) Make sure you’re asking that final question that you need a yes to, which is your strong call to action. (11) Organize your writing with a formula.

That formula is something that we’re going to talk about next week. In the meantime, I really like the two formulas that we’ve already talked about on the show. One is the one from Terry Dean where you tell a story, you do some teaching, and then you have a call to action. The other one is the Dan Kennedy formula of highlight a problem, make that problem big, and then you solve it. Those two methods are really good methods, depending on what it is that you’re doing. I’m going to give you a more comprehensive thing next week.

For now, what I want you to do is to take just one of these tips and go look at one of your most important blog posts, one of your most important sales pages, one of the places where you really want someone to do something. Maybe it’s the copy in the sidebar opt-in for your email newsletter. Maybe it’s a Facebook ad. Probably it’s long form copy where you’re recommending an affiliate product. Make sure that you apply one of these tips to that post before we talk next week. Just take one small action to make sure that a little something, a little piece of copy in your business, is a little better this week. Just one thing and my work here will be done.

Wrapping Things Up…

Thank you very much for tuning in. Next week I will be hanging with you talking about a method, a framework you can use for every piece of copy that you write. It works for every time you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and you have copy to write. We’ll be talking about that next week.

Until next time.

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