NOTE: The following EPIC post comes from the book,”Marketing Basics for the Digital Writer.”
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Many writers are insecure about marketing, but they shouldn’t be.
Marketing might be the art of persuading people to buy, but it’s also so much more. Marketing is art – a study in human nature and the things that makes us all tick. Understanding marketing means understanding the world you live in.
Grow as a marketer, and grow as a writer.
Most great writers would probably make excellent marketers if they gave it half a chance. Discover how to use your writing skills to create effective marketing, and you will truly achieve limitless potential.
Once you learn how to do this well, passive income becomes easier. Even better, you’ll know more about the human triggers and laws of influence that will make it easier for you to tap into human behavior whenever you wish.
Understand the Laws of Influence
If you want to improve your life in a few short hours, read the book, Influence, by Robert Cialdini. I don’t say that lightly; I’m not one of those guys who insists you read Catcher in the Rye because it will “change everything.”
Influence is about understanding the laws of persuasion. Even if you never write a sales letter in your life, understanding the nature of influence will make you a more effective, more eloquent, and ultimately, more popular reader.
Persuasion is art and science. Whether you want your reader to turn the page or click the buy button, great writers know how to drive reader behavior. It’s worth reading the entire tome, but here’s a brief summary of Cialdini’s seven laws:
Reciprocity: People feel obligated to return favors. When you do something nice for someone, they feel subconsciously indebted to return the favor.
Commitment and Consistency: When people commit to something, either verbally or in writing, they are more likely to honor their word, even after their original incentives have been removed.
Social Proof: No one wants to get burned or be the first to discover a scam, which is why people use social proof to help them weigh their level of risk. When you see five stars in a review, 100 re-tweets on a blog post, or 1,000+ “likes” on a Facebook fan page, you are relying on the behavior of others to give you a green light.
Being Likable: Everyone wants to be liked, and we want to do business with people we like as well.
Authority: Authority figures make the rules. We trust them, in shorthand. They wear a halo that is extremely powerful and difficult to ignore.
Scarcity: We covet what we can’t have. From Cabbage Patch Kids to Elmo, or iPads to PS3’s, things are always more valuable when wanted by others. The higher the demand and lower the supply, the greater the profit potential, regardless of reality.
Compare and Contrast: People love to compare. By playing into the natural human tendency to compare apples to apples, or even apples to oranges, you can alter price perception and make a high price seem much smaller than it is. For example, if you have a top-end product for sale at $999, but your entry-level product is $199, it will seem cheap, even if it would’ve seemed expensive to the same exact buyer 10 minutes before hearing the higher priced alternative.
When you become fluent in the laws of influence, it will lead to improvement in every corner of your writing career.
Yet there is nowhere that your new knowledge will have a more significant affect than on your ability to write a powerful sales letter.
Master the Sales Letter
A great sales letter grabs the reader, then leads them along a road of persuasion, all the way to an eager buy at the end.
A professionally written sales letter is among the most lucrative types of copy in the word. If you know how to write captivating copy that inspires, motivates, and moves your audience to take action, you have a highly marketable skill that can make you mountains of money.
While some writers have a natural gift at writing compelling sales copy, others must learn to refine their skills.
Fortunately, it is a skill that can be learned. I would suggest seeking professional help in mastering the sales letter and making this skill one of your strengths. In the meantime, start with the following tips:
Know who you’re talking to. If you don’t know your market, you can’t write directly to it. Define your market’s age, sex, income level, and other demographic information, so you can start to understand who makes up the market and what makes them tick.
- What motivates them?
- What are their most pressing needs and desires?
- What are their biggest challenges?
If you know who you are talking to, you can tailor your writing to their specific needs and desires, using language that whispers in their ears with an echo of truth.
Understand what you’re selling. Know the product or service you’re selling as well as you know your audience. It isn’t enough to know you’re selling a widget, you must also know the features and, more importantly, the benefits of having that widget, and how it addresses the critical needs of your target market.
Practice Makes Perfect. Knowing how to write a sales letter isn’t enough to get you crafting killer copy out of the gate. Sales letters are worth as much as they are because the writers who do them well are few and far between. Read as many sales letters as you can. Pay attention to tone and word choice. Dig below the paragraphs to see the psychology the writers use to stoke desire for their product.
Writing a great sales letter is an art. Once you see what works (and what doesn’t), you will be better able to use your own words to get the results you want.
Of course, if you can build your own crowd of raving fans, being able to write a compelling long copy sales letter isn’t nearly as important.
Master the Subject Line
Email is one of the best ways to nurture relationships with your readers. But email will do nothing for you if it goes unopened.
That’s why you need to master the art of the subject line, to make sure your email is read. The war for inbox attention is fierce, and you MUST know how to command your share better than the other guy.
After two and half years of sending emails to client lists, as well as my own, “You Are Not Alone” is the most opened subject line I’ve ever used – by far.
Because my email list software counts each email opened, even when they’re from the same user, I know that this single subject line has an average open rate of 90%, and has surpassed the 100% mark several times (meaning people opened the email more than once).
I’ve successfully seen this subject line used on emails ranging from content marketing to personal development, with a dozen verticals in between. The results are always the same.
No one wants to be alone.
The need to belong, or to know others feel the same and travel through similar life experiences, is primal. Sure, plenty of other ways exist to appeal to base, primitive needs, but such subject lines might send your message directly to spam.
No matter what message you’re sending or service you’re selling, if you remind your readers that someone understands what they are going through, and is capable of taking care of their needs, you will become their temporary hero.
Do it repeatedly, and you will permanently solidify that position.
You can use this subject line to get your email opened, but treat the open as just the first step. Once you’ve captured your readers’ attention, prove that you deserved it by providing useful solutions to their most pressing problems.
Your subject line is an invitation to dinner; you still have to cook the main course. Help people solve their problems and strip them of their feelings of isolation, and they will remember, responded to, and reward you.
The “You Are Not Alone” subject line works as well as it does because it reacts with an elemental human need – and the good news is, the well of human need is bottomless. Respond to one or respond to all, but you must provide what people truly desire if you expect to reach the root of who they are.
Discover this and everything else becomes easy –growing your list, nurturing relationships, and ultimately, closing the deal. As we’ve discussed, you must be fluent in the core desires of your audience.
What makes you feel worried, happy, sad, disgusted, afraid, surprised, or alone? What’s true for you is true for your readers. Figure out what it is and you know how to reach them.
Bonus tip: – negativity sells. People will always work harder to keep something they have than to gain something they want, even when carrying a desperate craving. But you should never use negativity for nefarious deeds. Be helpful, solve a problem, take a worry and turn it into a smile. You’ll get your email opened, make a friend, and nurture a relationship that will pay for a long time to come.
Build a Better Offer
Build a great offer, then find the people who want what you’re selling, and there’s truly no limit to the amount of money you can make. Well, unless you’re trying to sell beepers to teenagers, in which case you might need a time machine.
All kidding aside, if you have a great offer and target a populated market, you can accomplish just about anything. Being a copywriter, I probably shouldn’t say this,
but having the right offer is even more important than having the right copy.
Horrible copy with a terrific offer will usually convert better than a terrible offer with copy that ticks all the boxes. Knowing your customers and what makes their inner gears turn, and how to position your product in a way that gives them instant gratification, happiness, or whatever is missing from their lives, and they will open their wallets with a smile.
Buying isn’t always rational. In fact, most often it’s not. People will buy what they want to buy, then rationalize their purchase. Approaching your buyers with the right offer makes it ABC-easy for their minds to grant them permission. Think about your customers. Not just what they want, but how they want it, then make it difficult for them to disagree with your offer.
Be specific. People search for answers to their problems. If you want to make an offer they can’t refuse, you must promise an immediate solution to a pressing problem. Anything else is a bonus.
The best part about a great offer is getting the sale, and the best part about getting the sale is getting the one that follows. Be good to your customers and they will be good to you on repeat. Never make a promise you can’t deliver and over-deliver every chance you get. Above all, know the difference between features and benefits.
This may seem simple, but it might be the most common mistake marketers make.
Know the Difference Between Features and Benefits
Maybe you do, too. That’s okay. Since the difference in knowing and not knowing may be the difference in a digit to your annual income, we should take a few minutes now and go over it together.
Customers don’t care about features, but they drool over benefits.
Features are what your product does the benefits are what gets customers to buy.
Benefits are what gets them to tell their friends, post glowing reviews of your product on Facebook, and Twitter, then buy from you again the following month.
Benefits are why buyers care about your product in the first place.
Imagine you’re selling your house. You’d start looking for realtor, right? You would get a referral, then give Rebecca Realtor a call (your friend Deb said she’s the best in the business).
Is the fact that she can sell your house a feature or benefit?
Hi-five if you said feature. The benefits are that Rebecca Realtor will help you avoid all the nightmares that can come with selling your home, and you can finally move into the perfect house in the charming neighborhood you’ve been coveting for months. You know, that dream house which will change your life.
How about something like a DVR or voicemail? The main feature of a DVR is that it records your favorite programs, the benefit is that you’ll never miss your favorite show again. The benefit of voicemail isn’t that you can ignore your phone calls whenever you want to, it’s that you’ll never miss an important call
Ask yourself what your customer really cares about – that’s the benefit. Make it easy enough for a five year old to understand, and you’re there. Don’t waste time, energy, or valuable white space telling your customers about features they’ll almost never care about. Focus on the benefits that will get them to buy.
Whether you’re writing short copy or long, you can mention the features, but make sure your benefits are clear.
If you want to earn a living selling, you will eventually have to ask for the sale.
Yet, even writers who get over their discomfort of marketing can sometimes have great difficulty closing the deal.
They won’t ask for the re-tweet, they won’t ask for referrals, and they won’t ask for the sale. Some writers are so afraid of being pushy, that they ignore their own needs. They believe in giving before receiving, and over-delivering at every opportunity, but then they don’t bring that philosophy full circle.
They give and give and give without ever coming back around to getting. It’s great to give value to others before ever asking for anything. It’s not only good business, it’s great for karma. But you must eventually ask for something if you intend to make a living.
I won’t say that asking for the sale isn’t uncomfortable. I still hate it. Yup, truly I do. I’ve grown to genuinely love marketing, but closing the deal is the chink in my armor.
I’m not naive enough to believe I can build an extraordinarily successful business without occasionally muscling my way through some discomfort, though. If you want your business and writing career to grow to its full potential, you will have to tell your readers what you want them to do.
Your clients and customers, even your diehard fans, will never be able to read your mind.
As long as you’re being ethical and creating value, you should feel proud of what you’re requesting from your readers. Though I’m never quite comfortable asking for the sale, I’m always glad when I do. So are my customers.
It’s no different from what I would tell my children – if it feels uncomfortable but you know it’s right, do it. That’s what it takes to grow into a person who knows how to ask for what they want.
Source: The Viral Marketing Cheat Sheet Infographic
Marketers Every Digital Writer Should Follow:
Hubspot - The Blog
Brian Clark - CopyBlogger
Darren Rowse - Problogger
Danny Iny - Firepole Marketing
Jay Baer – Convince and Convert
Stanford Smith – Pushing Social
Lori Taylor – Social Caffeine
Chris Brogan – Human Business Works
Epic Marketing Posts No Digital Writer Should Miss:
Internet Marketing For Smart People - CopyBlogger
The Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing – Joseph Putnam
How to Figure Out What People Want To Buy From You – Derek Halpern
How I Increased My Email Subscribers By 500% In One Week – Francisco Rosales
Research the Audience You Want … but Don’t Have - Logan Marshall
Why Marketers Must Optimize Emails for HTML & Plain Text [Infographic] – Pamela Vaughan
Of course, this EPIC Post would not have been possible without the awesome book, “Marketing Basics for the Digital Writer.”
Please share this EPIC Post on Twitter, Facebook and any other social media outlets where your audience will benefit.
Enter your best email address in the box below, absorb the free content once a week, then take action on what you learn. You will be a more successful writer.
Until next week!
I did it. So can you.
P.S. If there is a person you feel every digital writer should follow on Twitter, or a post on blogging that should be included in this post, please add it to the comments and I will look into it as soon as I can. If you have a question or comment, please leave it below and I promise to answer within 24 hours.
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