You have a great product, you have a hungry market and now the moment is upon you:
It’s time to write a sales page.
The ability to write sales copy is – we believe – one of the most powerful skills for the modern marketer, business owner and entrepreneur. If you can harness direct response copy to sell your business or brand, you are bulletproof.
Understand how to write a good sales page and you capture your reader’s attention, sell them on the benefits of your product and, ultimately, win them as a customer. Cue popping of corks and a bed of money to sleep on each night a la Don Draper…
This is a long article… and it needs to be.
While most content is designed to attract attention and engage readers, direct response copy draws on sales psychology and emotional triggers to move your reader to action.
Regardless of the size of your brand, there will always be a need to “sell”… in other words, encourage your reader to make the next move. That may be making a purchase, picking up the phone or messaging you.
So who are we to be telling you to do this? Well, as an agency, we’re a bit different. We’re one of very few who are grounded in conversion copy and use direct response principles in all our own and our clients’ marketing…
Look. We love funny, smart, personality-led creative copy (the kind of clever copy you see on ads that makes you go “huh?”). But the real power is in persuasion.
Sales copy is about impressing you with “wordsmithery”. Fancy-pants phrasing and mighty puuuurrdey words do not make the sale. Understanding your reader, and what they want, does.
Your sales page is there for one reason and one reason only… to make you money.
Our copywriters don’t get creative. We use tried-and-tested techniques to write sales-grabbing promotions in the millions. And these proven techniques don’t just apply to sales pages; we use the same principles for writing emails, sales scripts and videos – anywhere where we need to connect the right buyer with the right product.
Of course, we haven’t slipped that little nugget in to tease you with a spot of braggadocio… we’re just hyped being at the sharp end of knowing how this can change your business. That’s why, in the next few thousand words, we’re going to share what we know so YOU can do the same.
But before we get to that point, there are a few key things to remember. First up, a revelation: writing a sales page doesn’t need to be complex or complicated.
(SHOCK! HORROR! Don’t tell our marketing peeps we told you…)
As long as you follow a few principles and include the right elements, you can knock out a sales page better than 99% of businesses out there who muddle through without good sales copy.
However, there’s an order to doing things… and diving in with your ballpoint and going headline crazy is NOT the right place to start.
Whatever you do…
Don’t start from scratch
The web may be awash with “million dollar sales templates” and most of them are plain useless.
How to [Insert your reader’s innermost desires here] without [Insert reader’s primary major pain point here] and [insert reader’s secondary pain point here] by [insert your USP here] instead of [insert competitor’s USP here] while juggling [insert image of fluffy kitten here]…
But don’t let that put you off using a basic structure to build your sales letter.
There really is no need to re-invent the wheel. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using long or short form copy, whether your copy is online or printed across a whole tree full of paper, the fundamentals always stay the same.
Any sales page needs to communicate the following points:
- Who you are.
- What you’re offering.
- Why it’s important to the reader
- Why they need to buy it right now
There’s some dressing around the edges but this is what you convey to the reader through the sales page.
In the article, I’ll show you the very structure we use to write best-selling sales letters and sales pages so you already have a head-start. To begin, there’s some essential groundwork we consider first to guarantee your sales page’s success and to make the writing easier.
So, before we talk about you, let’s talk about the most important person in this whole relationship:
Cheat, but don’t be lazy (a.k.a know your reader)
One of the most popular questions I’m asked about my sales copy is “How do you know your copy will hit home with your readers?”
The truth is, I know they’ll work because I ‘stole’ the ideas for them from the readers themselves. Kind of.
Here’s the other “secret” about great sales copy – you don’t have to be particularly “creative” to write great sales copy that does its job. It helps if you can write well and have a ton of ideas. Yet, the most important aspect doesn’t involve writing in any way.
It’s understanding your reader.
If you’ve done any marketing, you may be familiar with creating customer profiles, personas or avatars. These profiles are designed to provide a target for your copywriting or marketing messaging.
Pro-copywriters often spend more time researching and finding out everything they can about their reader before writing a single word of their promotion.
There are three parts to a customer profile. The first is:
These are the hard figures that define who your reader is. Information includes age, gender, relationship status, no. of children, home ownership, employment status, job, car, places they shop, apps they own, publications they read…
A quick note here – there are two common issues people find with this:
1) How can you be so specific when you have hundreds of customers who are completely different?
Easy. This is your target reader, not necessarily your current market. Focus on your ideal customer – the person you love working with, who can afford you and who you want more of and model your profile on them. During this process you may even discover you have more than one target customer – create a profile for each of these… but don’t go crazy.
(We once created 13 different audience profiles for one client. Not recommended).
2) Why do you need to know details like where they shop or what they read?
The specificity is important so you know where to find them and how to reach them. Plus it allows you to ‘steal’ market information from big brands.
Let me explain.
Say you know your ideal customer shops at Waitrose. Well, already we know they must live in an affluent area. Why? Because Waitrose spends millions understanding where their ideal customers are and builds stores near them. They’ve done the research, you get to use it. The same with the publication. Waitrose publishes a regular magazine. While your ideal reader may not actually read it, the research that went into that magazine will have cost Waitrose thousands of pounds and hours of time. And you get to use it all for yourself for FREE. Look at the content in the magazine, the headlines and the offers they make. These all give you an idea of what Waitrose’s research has shown that target market likes and reads. And you’ve not had to spend a penny. This is ‘ethical stealing’.
The second part of the profile is:
How do they feel about themselves, their life, their family and community? What attitudes do they hold? What is their worldview? What are their values?
Getting to grips with their emotional needs and drivers is essential. Psychographics are all about subjectivity. How the reader feels about themselves impacts how you gain their attention, how to talk to them and how you build a relationship.
For example, a 60-year-old married man with two children who lives in the suburbs and who has been employed by the same firm his whole life is going to have a very different outlook, attitude and set of values than a 21-year-old single graduate living in London with £40,000 of student debt and no job.
It’s not just their current status that is important. It is how they see the world through the prism of their experience and their values.
Another explanation of the process of building a Customer Avatar is provided here by Rocket Marketing Hub:
The next step is understanding how they see the challenge or problem before them and how ‘aware’ they are of the means to overcome the challenge.
How to pitch your product to the right customer
An important part of knowing how to pitch your sales page is understanding the level of awareness your audience currently has about your product.
Sure, YOU love your product and you’re super-excited about it, but that’s because it’s your baby. You have to be brutally honest with yourself as to how well your wider market really knows your brand and your product.
Factors like the size of your market, your size comparative to the total market and your personal, professional and company reputation all play a part in this assessment. (Seriously, be honest with yourself…)
Why is this important? Because how you pitch your sales page will depend on the level of awareness your reader has about your product.
If you’re Coca-Cola, your opening pitch to your reader is going to be very different than if you’re a little-known brand.
If you’re on the marketing team at Coca-Cola you can confidently predict the majority of readers (depending on where your sales pitch appears) will have good brand awareness. They know you’re a sugary, fizzy drink. They’re likely to know what they get when they buy – not just taste, but what the bottle or can looks like, what it costs, how it makes them feel afterwards. All these elements are important to any buying decision.
So, knowing that, you can do one of two things if you were in charge of their marketing:
- Remind your target audience of your existence. This is what we know as ‘brand awareness’ marketing. The kind of marketing you’ll see Coca-Cola do on billboards or TV. It’s feelgood, it makes you smile, it’s just there to remind you the product exists, and…
- Tell them to buy now, via a promotion, deal or retail activation (which is a terribly pompous, technical term that means giving people bottles of Coke)
If you want to see a brilliant example of brand awareness marketing stripped bare, here’s the honest Coke ad from the film, The Invention Of Lying – set in a world where people only tell the truth.
It’s spot on…
Ok, so that’s brand marketing. What about the “Buy Now” message? Well, this is where sales or conversion copy comes in.
If you have a highly aware audience, you can sell without educating them about their situation or your product. They understand your product, they know its benefits – it’s just a case of pushing them across the line to buy. So you make offers.
Offers can be discounted or time-limited. What is important is they are designed to persuade you to take action. And taking this approach in your sales copy only works if – and this is a mighty big IF – reader awareness is high.
Here’s the general rule:
If product awareness is high, you can go straight into making an offer in your sales copy – even in your headline.
If product awareness is low, you have more work to do. Making an offer to buy too early will fall on deaf ears (or disinterested eyes) because your reader is seeing the offer too early in the relationship.
But there’s another factor to take into account…
How much does your audience know about how to solve their ‘problem’?
In other words, how sophisticated is your market. Again, let’s use the Coca-Cola example.
When you’re out and want a drink, you’re aware Coca-Cola isn’t the only drink on the block. There are multiple options available.
When a consumer has a need – like being thirsty – they choose from a selection of options which fulfil that need. Coca-Cola doesn’t operate in a market where they are the only option, but they do market themselves as the best option for their market.
Washing powder is another example of a late-stage sophisticated market – a market where there are established players, consumers are aware of the claims and benefits and now they are choosing between different brands.
The electric motorbike market, on the other hand, is less sophisticated. There are fewer companies within the space, and consumers are not jaded by competitive claims, benefits or pricing. It is still a market where new players can make an impact… just by being ‘new’.
To understand the difference between early and late stage markets, here’s a more in-depth video from Mindvalley CEO Vishen Lakhiani:
You don’t need to know the ins-and-outs of this and it’s not within this scope of this article to go too in-depth.
All you need to take from this right now is to understand how your approach may need to differ in how you speak to your reader and attract their attention.
If your reader has low awareness of your brand and the market is early stage, you will find yourself needing to educate your reader before making an offer. You have to carry them with you a little first.
If they are highly aware of your brand and your market is saturated, you need to make bigger, bolder claims, lean on promotions and stand out through differentiation.
Before we head into the nuts and bolts of a sales page, there’s just one more point to take into account.
Same reader, different motivations to buy
Every reader is different – so you have to appeal to what they want.
Ok, so this sounds like it goes against what we’re saying in terms of having a clear customer… but really this is about what they want right now.
The timing aspect is really important here. Your product may have widespread appeal; there is always a buyer who needs you right now.
What moves them to the point of action, however, may differ.
For example, if you sold cars to middle-aged women you have a clear target market. But their reason for buying right now may be different…
… they may have a job that requires a car
… they may need to upgrade a car because theirs has broken down
… they may have had a baby and need something roomier.
The messaging, tone and target stays the same… it’s just the motivations that change.
In a normal face-to-face sales conversation, a (good) salesperson would quickly identify the reasons for the purchase early on.
“Why are you here today?”
“Why are you looking at this product today?”
“Why has this become urgent to you right now?”
And they’d tailor their sales pitch to meet those needs.
On a sales page, you don’t have that luxury. So your copy needs to appeal to multiple motivations through its headers, subheaders and bullets.
Sounds daunting? But it really isn’t, we promise.
So let’s quickly recap what we need to know before we dive into writing a highly effective sales page. You should:
- Know who your reader is
- Know your reader’s awareness of the product
- Know the level of understanding your reader has about solving their problem or overcoming their challenge
- Know the different motivations your reader may have to purchase
Once you have this in the bag, it’s time to write.
The Essential Ingredients Of A Bangin’ Sales Page
Right, now we’ve got that little lot out of the way, it’s time to deal with specifics.
A good sales page is always comprised of 8 elements.
Here they are:
- The Headline… and The Lead
- Build Credibility and Trust
- Sell The Key Benefit or Promise
- Make The Offer
- Features AND Benefits
- Proof (Or How Not To Be Hypey)
- Handle Objections
- The Close
1. THE HEADLINE…
Your headline is where you win or lose the game.
If we could make you write that out 100 times on a blackboard (showing our age there…) just like Bart Simpson does, we’d get you do that.
(And in a moment, we’ll reveal why actually doing this is a great idea)
If you’re going to create a pie chart of importance about the elements of your sales page, almost the whole pie would be covered in a headline.
It’s THAT importance.
Why? Because everything depends on this. Everything depends on catching your reader’s attention with the headline. Fail to do this and nothing else matters.
You may have the most incredible, persuasive bullets known to humankind. Your sales story could be worthy of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Your proof features the greats of your profession or industry.
Yet, none of this means jack if your reader never gets to that point.
Fail with your headline and it’s game over.
Now, I’ve rammed that home as much as I can, let’s focus on what makes a great headline.
There is a good starting point for all headlines (and subheaders, email subject headers…) and it’s a really simple formula:
Benefit + Curiosity
Seems simple, doesn’t it? But the challenge is teasing out the benefit that really makes your reader stop and pay attention.
The purpose of this type of headline is to halt the reader in their tracks with the benefit and then pique their curiosity sufficiently to stop what they’re doing and start reading your copy.
This is the headline formula used so commonly on clickbait sites. You can see this in action on Huffington Post’s 30 most shared headlines with devastatingly effective results.
However, there’s something missing from these clickbait-style posts. They’re not personal.
They don’t punch you in the chest and force your eyes onto their words. The best headline sucker punches you when you least expect it by agitating some dark fear, worry or burning desire.
To get started, there are psychological triggers which we, as humans, simply cannot resist looking at.
These have been proven to work time and again and so are a perfect starting point for your own headline ideas. Try focusing your headline on:
- News – our brains literally cannot help switching on to new things. Every time we hear a ‘ping’ from our news apps, it releases dopamine and we can’t help looking, e.g. “New discovery helps…”
- Danger – the classic newspaper headline, e.g.“WARNING: If you’re a 60-year-old man with…”
- Shame/insecurity – if you want to sucker-punch your reader, agitate their greatest insecurity, e.g. “For the woman who is older than she looks”, “Are they being promoted right over your head?”
- Curiosity – we can’t help being drawn to ‘what happens next?’, e.g. “What NEVER to eat on an airplane”, “Six types of investors: which one are you?”
- Benefits – a clear benefit of something we deeply want is powerful, e.g. “How to win friends and influence people”, “You can laugh at money worries”
- Insider knowledge – we have a need to know something others don’t, so use it, e.g. “What everybody ought to know…”
- Money – financial headlines perform really well, we always want to know ‘how much?’, e.g. “Former barber earns $8,000 in 4 months”
- Irresistible offer – powerful but only when used with a product that has high awareness from the readership, e.g. “Limited offer…”, “Save 50%…”
Let’s see this in action.
In John Caples’ famous “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano” Ad there is great interplay between the potential fear and benefit (shame in embarrassing oneself in front of an audience vs the adulation of playing the piano beautifully in front of an audience) and the curiosity of what happened next? This is also a perfect example of how to tell a story in just a few words.
For this English course, this headline is ideal. It tugs on the reader’s insecurities with language to agitate their concern and potential shame from making basic mistakes. It adds curiosity by ‘revealing’ mistakes the reader could be making (a technique Buzzfeed-style listicles use extensively).
This headline from Matt Furey in the weight loss and fitness niche is a great example of how to balance curiosity with benefit. The benefit with weight loss is looking and feeling good and the combination of image and benefits in the headline and subheader sell the benefits while the “76-Year-Old Man” reference keeps you reading.
Gary Halbert’s “Amazing Diet Secret” uses benefit (diet) and curiosity (secret) to great effect while also calling out the target audience as housewives. The really smart part of the ad is the use of the word “desperate”. It doesn’t explain the reason for the desperation, whether that is weight loss, family life or something else… it lets the reader fill in the gap themselves.
Curiosity takes the driving seat in this health promotion. The provocative statement catches your attention because it is made by a doctor and goes against current received wisdom on hydration. This is a perfect example of how a headline and lead work together (see below) to sell a benefit and keep you reading.
One of the world’s greatest headline writers, John Carlton knows how to tell a story and heighten the emotions, as demonstrated in his famous ‘One-Legged Golfer’ and Cage Fighter ads above.
In this video, Carlton explains what makes a perfect headline: touching your reader’s deepest, darkest fears and desires so they literally can’t sleep at night thinking about it.
Now, if you want to get really good at headlines, try this.
Write out – by hand – 30 headline ideas. Write freely using a pen on a pad of paper and see where it takes you. It’s tough to write 30 but after 20 or so, you’ll already start seeing your ideas improve.
Now you’re working on the headline, here’s its important sibling:
… AND THE LEAD
If a sales page was a wedding, The Lead is always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
But it should – at least – be Maid of Honour.
Here’s why. The headline gets your reader’s attention but it’s the lead – the few sentences that follow the headline that are key to getting your reader to continue, well… reading.
In fact, it’s very difficult to separate the headline and lead and that’s why we often draft them together. They’re like an inseparable duo.
While the headline is the most important, the lead is what acts as a bridge between attracting the attention of the reader and delivering them to a place where they are firmly engaged in the sales copy.
Just like the headline needs to force the reader to read the next line, so the lead needs to do the same.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules about what should go into a lead, there are a few factors which will influence how you structure this.
A great starting point is to use the P.A.S. Formula, which stands for:
Problem – Agitate – Solution
First, define the problem for the reader in terms they understand and resonate with. Then, agitate the problem by widening the consequences of not dealing with the problem. And lead into the solution.
It works because it’s reader-focused. You’re not hitting them with your product or solution first. You define their problem and then show them how your product meets their needs.
This is where understanding how aware and sophisticated your audience is. Because if they are problem-aware or solution-aware, your lead will have a slightly different focus before arriving at the point your start building credibility.
The lead needs to achieve two aims:
- Show your reader that they’re in the right place
- Offer them a reason to keep reading to the end
The most important tool you have available when doing this is empathy.
What is empathy? The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Or as Bill Clinton would put it…
It really is just that. When we feel someone understands the pain or the challenges we’re going through, we’re willing to listen. We’re hopeful they not only understand us, but they can help us.
By demonstrating early in the conversation you’re having with the reader that you “get” them and can articulate the pain they are feeling, you make your copy all the more engaging.
For example, have you ever spoken with someone who has been able to read back to you your very thoughts about a situation or problem you’re dealing with?
It’s happened to all of us. It makes what they have to say compelling because we feel they understand us. And feeling “understood” is one of the most powerful human drivers.
Now, again, this needs to be authentic. You simply cannot replace or fake real understanding. You either come from a place of personal experience or you learn so much about the audience and how to help them, you can speak to their needs, wants and desires.
With this in mind, an effective way to build out a lead is to use questions around how the reader feels and talking around their situation. This may be descriptive of their situation but it needs to speak to their feelings just as much as the detail.
These emotional “triggers” are just what is needed to keep interest and curiosity high going into the rest of the sales page as Craig Garber explains in this video:
But there is one other part that is essential to keeping the reader going: hope.
The promise of a way out of the situation they are in or the problems they are facing is essential. It can be really easy to plunge your reader into their problems and bring them to life again. If you don’t offer a clear path to resolving those problems and challenges, eventually they disengage.
There is a fine line between agitating their situation and offering the hope of a way out or a solution to their problems that needs to be balanced – bear this in mind through the whole sales page.
2. BUILD CREDIBILITY AND TRUST
People don’t buy in a vacuum.
What that means is someone doesn’t just buy a product. They buy from someone.
That ‘someone’ may be an individual salesperson or a big brand. The important thing to remember is the person making the sale has to “sell” themselves as much as the product. Win your reader and you make more sales – it’s that simple.
(Think of it this way… can you recall ever buying a high ticket item from someone you didn’t like or trust?)
That’s why building credibility is a major part of your sales copy.
This is especially important if your reader has not met or encountered you in any way before. Building credibility involves demonstrating to your reader conclusively why they should listen to what you have to say and why you are the individual or company best placed to help them with their challenges.
If you already have an established brand, you’re probably on your way to this. But don’t underestimate the need to repeat who you are and how you can help again. And again. And again.
(Whisper it again with me… “no-one cares about you”)
The best way to establish credibility and win over your reader is to build K.L.T – Know, Like and Trust.
Essentially, how this expresses itself in the sales copy is through your sales story. You use the story of who you are, and how you can help to connect powerfully with your reader so they are more open to your offer later in the copy.
This doesn’t have to be a huge part of your sales letter, but it does need to be compelling, believable and engaging. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Know – Who are you? Why are you speaking/writing to me today?
- Like – What do we have in common? How do you understand my situation?
- Trust – Why are you best placed to help? Who have you helped before? How do I know you have the knowledge, expertise or experience to help me?
An example may be in weight loss.
If you’re a personal trainer, you may have been overweight and unfit for years until an incident in your personal life forced you to change direction. Since then you have learned everything there is to know about nutrition and exercise and so you’re now on a mission to help exactly the type of people you once were. You would support this story with other stories of where you struggled and how you overcome mean comments from co-workers and cravings every day until you finally got the physique you wanted.
If doesn’t necessarily have to be your story. You can tell a customer’s story and build your credibility into that. The key is to show a transformation and tie your knowledge, expertise and experience to it.
Salma Jafri offers a comprehensive explanation of the power of using KLT to establish credibility and trust with your reader:
There are other factors at play here which are equally as important.
For a salesperson, building KLT is easier. They have a face-to-face relationship with you. They can use sight, touch, their tone of voice to build rapport in a way that isn’t so easy on the page.
However, it is possible to replicate these techniques within the copy.
For example, using the appropriate tone of voice for your reader will build rapport. Or demonstrating a connection by using the same language they use. Above all, when doing this it needs to be authentic. Fake it or get this wrong and your reader will instantly know.
Also, you can build KLT by giving away some value up-front. What this means is doing a little bit of teaching on your sales page – either delivering an insight which they may not be aware of about their situation or their industry or showing them how to do something which is of value.
Don’t underestimate the power of giving value ahead of the sale. It can really build credibility and trust quickly and show the reader you know what you’re talking about.
3. SELL THE RESULT OR OUTCOME
Your reader wants something. It’s your job to work out what it is.
The problem with most sales pages is they think the thing your reader wants is the product they’re selling. Even if you’re Coke or Mercedes or Apple, that probably isn’t true.
Behind every buying decision is a real reason for purchasing. Finding out what your reader really wants deep down is the key to unlock all the sales you’ll ever need.
A salesperson can prod and pry as much as they need when they’re in a sales conversation with a prospect. But when you’re 100 miles from your reader and you’ve only got one shot, you need to know.
Already you have captured their attention with the headline and lead. What is the main benefit or desire they want.
Let’s demonstrate how.
Here’s a typical conversation between a personal trainer and a potential client that you hear every day.
PT: “Why do you want to see a personal trainer?”
What the client says:
“Oh, I just want to lose a bit of weight, feel healthier and maybe tone up a bit.”
What they actually want to say:
“I want to look incredible naked in front of the mirror, feel amazing every time I walk into a clothing store and can wear anything and finally find someone who loves me so I don’t have to be so alone… BOO HOO :(“
Ok, ok, it’s a slight exaggeration but hopefully, you get the point. No-one ever vocalises what’s really going on.
People make decisions based on emotion, not logic. It’s key to engaging their emotions first and that means telling them the story of what it is they really want.
One huge mistake people make when writing sales copy is to focus on the process to get there.
When you’re selling, you’re in the business of transformation. They care about where they are now and where they WANT to be. If you build empathy effectively and credibility you show them you know how it feels to be in the situation they find themselves in.
By selling the result or the outcome, you offer them a picture of where they want to be.
What they don’t care about is how they get there (this does come with one huge caveat*). People are interested in themselves and what they will get or become. They rarely care about your process or method from an emotional perspective.
Once you sell them on the outcome and they are invested emotionally, the how becomes a side note.
Again, with everything to this point the outcome needs to be rendered in relatable terms, i.e. story.
Back to the weight loss example.
The outcome may be to lose 10 kilos… but the real outcome is to finally fit back into those jeans you never thought you’d wear again, walk confidently into a room full of people or getting kind comments from friends.
And there are plenty more where that came from…
- Outcome: buy a sports car >>> Emotional outcome: to feel young again
- Outcome: buy a new jacket >>> Emotional outcome: to feel more confident at work
- Outcome: join a business mastermind group >>> Emotional outcome: to feel significant and part of a community
- Outcome: to get a mortgage >>> Emotional outcome: to feel secure
Understanding what the emotional outcome is important because it sits within the buyer’s decision-making process.
(* Ok, so what’s the caveat?
In markets where there is a saturation of suppliers offering the same benefits – for example, washing powder – the method or “mechanism” does become more important. That’s because the only point of differentiation isn’t around how it will benefit the reader or viewer but how it gets to the point where that benefit is realised.
Going back to the washing powder example, this may be through traditional powder, tabs or pods which offer essentially the same outcome but jostle over the means to achieve “whiter-than-white” whites)
4. MAKING THE OFFER
You don’t make any sales if you don’t make any offers. On your sales page, you need to set out your offer clearly and so your reader is in no doubt what they are getting.
Too often, assumptions are made about what
Your offer needs to be like this…
Ok, maybe not as sinister, but it needs to do a “QVC” on your product.
If you’ve ever watched QVC you’ll know exactly what this means.
The way QVC sells its products is through immersion.
The presenters not only present the product to you and explains its features and benefits, they go deep on everything about it. They show you the product from every angle, they hold it in their hands and touch it, describing to you how it feels. They use it, showing you enough context so you can see yourself using it. They hit it from every angle so you are in no doubt whatsoever about what it is, what it can do and how it will fit into your life if you were to buy it today.
QVC is an expert in removing doubt. If a buyer has any doubt in their mind, they will not buy. The careful, clear and detailed explanation of what exactly it is that you are offering them is how you remove any doubt.
You have to comprehensively and beyond any doubt answer the question the reader is asking:
“But what do I actually get?”
There’s more to the offer than just the product description. The offer is also comprised of elements such as its USP (Unique Selling Point), its price including discounts, bonuses and any guarantees, if appropriate.
How well are you describing your product right now in your marketing? It is surprising how little explanation companies give around the products they offer.
The best way to do this is to write down exactly what it is your reader gets when they buy from you. Don’t leave anything out. Explain the whole process from start to finish.
And then get someone who doesn’t know your product at all to read it.
Once you’ve nailed your offer then it brings us neatly onto…
5. FEATURES AND BENEFITS
Understand the difference between features and benefits and you can elevate your sales to another level.
At the top of this article, I wrote about different motivations and reasons for buying. This is where those different motivations have a chance to breathe.
Basically, it’s key to talk about features AND benefits.
Features are the specific technical features of your product. Size, shape, that kind of thing. They’re what your product is.
Benefits are the outcomes your product delivers. As a general rule, these are future focused – these good things happen because of the product features.
You see, no-one buys features (unless they’re a real techie geek). They buy what those features deliver. Again, it’s the emotion vs logical part of our brain in action.
To demonstrate this better, here’s a video on features vs benefits and how you need both as well as going beyond benefits to understand the key emotional drivers behind your audience.
For another explanation of how to take your features and benefits to another level, watch Derek Halpern at Social Triggers who shows you how to take a feature and turn it into a compelling benefit.
There are different ways to present benefits, but one of the most common and useful to master is using bullets.
Bullets are clean, clear and pop out of the page. And, done well, a single well-written bullet is often enough to persuade someone to buy.
Here Chris Haddad – who is a master of the bullet point benefit – explains how to use emotional triggers in bullets to agitate your reader to purchase.
6. PROOF (OR HOW NOT TO BE HYPEY)
No-one wants a sales page that’s, well, too salesy.
It’s probably this one worry that stops people from even attempting to start writing a sales page for their product. That’s why offering proof to back your claims is so important. Big claims don’t sound hypey when supported with overwhelming proof.
Your goal is to find and present that proof.
One of the biggest challenges in today’s marketing environment is believability of the claims being made. We’re assaulted on Facebook and social media from the most ridiculous, incredible, far-fetched claims about what we can and can’t achieve and our tolerance for B.S. has never been lower.
The same goes for your reader.
Assume this is what your reader thinks every time you make a claim on your sales page…
It’s not enough to tell people it works.
It’s not even enough to sprinkle a few limp testimonials into your sales copy.
Now, you have to build powerful, unassailable proof of each of your claims and back this with social proof, testimonials and case studies which are highly relevant to your reader.
The most powerful way of presenting testimonials is with heightened specificity.
We see too many sales pages and websites where people have woolly, vague testimonials about how great they think the person is. This is useless and a complete waste of pixels.
Elements like testimonials and case studies are there for two reasons:
- To demonstrate beyond doubt the truth of your claims
- To allow the reader to see themselves in context
How often have you seen sales pages peppered with testimonials like this?
“Working with Dave was great. He’s a joy to be around and really knows his stuff. Would recommend.”
How much more powerful (and useful) would this version be?
“I decided to work with Dave after working with other consultants with whom we spent a lot of money but never really seemed to get to the root of our sales issue. He came highly recommended by a member of the local Chamber of Commerce and while I was reluctant to invest again in consultancy, immediately I was reassured with how well he understood my business. After working with him for 12 months, we have increased sales by 27%, I have a more cohesive team and I’m able to leave work an hour early.”
This kind of proof offers everything you need. Specifics about the reason for choosing the product, answering the objections your reader is likely to have and specific results and how it felt achieving those.
When you write claims in your sales copy look to build proof to support each of these this strong.
This is the general rule: you can NEVER, EVER have enough proof.
For more on using better proof in your copy, listen to this excellent episode of The Truth About Marketing.
7. ANSWERING OBJECTIONS
Like any salesperson, you have to overcome a multitude of objections your reader has to the purchase.
Some are emotional. Some are logical. All can be overcome when done the right way.
Remember, what we said at the top of this article: people buy on emotion and justify on logic.
That’s what we’re dealing with here. They may have emotionally bought into owning or using the product, but there are a number of hurdles still to overcome.
Some of these objections are clear and vocalised (“I can’t afford it”, “The price is too high”, “The timing isn’t right”) while others go unmentioned and are a little trickier to uncover.
The first step to overcoming these is a really simple exercise. Get a sheet of paper or a blank Word document and make a list of every single objection your customers give when trying to make the sale.
This list should be relatively long.
It will probably start with price. So let’s deal with that first.
The way to overcome price objections is to set the value of the product effectively. Just like a salesperson, there is a strategy that pre-frames what your reader feels about the price when it is revealed.
We often see that in work in retail stores.
A bag is priced at £99 and it looks expensive.
But on its tag is the old price of £1500, crossed out… and suddenly £99 doesn’t look too pricey.
The same is true in your sales page. Selling value is about building up the value of what your reader is receiving before the price is revealed. This means highlighting the value of all the elements of the offer as well as making comparisons to alternatives.
In the weight loss example, the cost of an online workout programme may be £37. On its own, the reader has nothing to compare it. However, if we add in the cost of a personal trainer at £50 an hour or the monthly cost of a gym membership which could vary from £18 to 80 a month and, again, the comparison looks favourable.
For a more detailed explanation about selling value vs price, here’s a short video from Brian Tracy.
Now look at that list of objections you’ve written as part of the exercise.
Go through each of those and focus on how you would overcome these.
We’re betting, though, there are a few objections that aren’t on your list. Things you never think would be an issue but are, such as those that focus on future problems:
“What if this works? How will it change my life?”
“What if I make too much money? What would I spend it on? How would I know whether to invest it?”
A great idea is to keep a permanent list of objections so you can work on how to overcome these both in your copy and in your business generally. And the real skill is working out those objections which are never spoken.
8. THE CLOSE
This is where it’s so easy to stumble. Without being in the room with the reader, how do you exert any pressure at all? You can’t use the urgency of your voice or your presence, so what is the answer?
Increasing the urgency by showing them what happens if they DON’T ACT RIGHT NOW.
There’s a technique called Future Pacing, which is kind of like Sliding Doors. Instead of using fake scarcity or timing to get your reader to act, you show them to very different futures: one where they don’t take action and one where they do.
This technique has been used for years in various guises, including the famous Wall Street Journal sales letter about two men from the same background but with very different futures.
The whole sales letter used this approach but you can see how the technique works from this breakdown:
Now you’ve heightened the need for them to act right now, it’s important not to forget the final piece of the puzzle:
Tell them to act and show them how.
This may be a big ‘ol BUY BUTTON or an Add To Cart call-to-action or any means… but make it clear what they have to do.
(You would be stunned how many sales pages fall down at this late stage by putting obstacles in the way of the purchase.)
Make it clear, make it simple and make sure the reader knows exactly what to do next.
So there was have it. Everything you need to know to write a great sales page.
Now it’s your turn. Start with nailing the concepts at the top of this article before you begin writing: who is your reader, what level of awareness do they have of your product and how advanced is their knowledge of the market.
When you’re sure on those details, then crack on with the rest of the letter and make sure to include all the elements.
Remember, a great sales page isn’t about your product. It’s about emotionally investing your reader in your solution and allowing them to find their way to your product.
Have a go and let us know how you get on.
If you’re writing a sales page, you need to tailor it based on how well your reader knows your brand and how well your reader knows the challenge they face (awareness vs sophistication).
Your sales page needs to appeal to multiple motivations to purchase, so needs to hit various angles. The key to success in your sales page is understanding the key benefit or promise you need to make to your audience to get them to buy.
There are 8 elements every sales page needs to incorporate. Hit all these and you’ll sell the ass off your product, no problem.
Want to know more?
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Or if you want our team of sales copywriting experts to turn their attention to making oodles of cash your business, book a strategy call today at www.bookmystrategy.com