MSP Copywriting – Part 6

As a quick recap, we’ve already taken a brief look at the attention and interest parts of the AIDA model. This section (and the next couple of sections) will contain some more ideas you can use to develop extra interest and, crucially, desire to your sales copy.

Please take note that we’re trying to establish what people desire which is certainly not the same as what they need. This sounds like a small point but it’s actually absolutely crucial to get this right. People don’t need flash cars or huge TV-sets or Rolex watches but nevertheless they buy them. People don’t need scratch-cards or cigarettes or chocolates but they’ll buy them too and studies have shown that they’ll even forgo the things that they do need to pay for them, such as food or rent. This is fascinating when you consider the fact that people will pay a premium for things which they don’t need and which aren’t even scarce or even intrinsically valuable either.

Why do people do this? Because they want them!

Sell what people need instead of what people want and you’ll always be making your sales a lot harder for yourself and limit your income.  This is such an important distinction. Your prospects may need to have encrypted backups but it’s not what they want. What they want is peace of mind or a feeling of security or to not look foolish in front of their peers.

The Higher the Ticket, the Longer the Copy.

This is self-explanatory really. Expensive (typically ‘considered’) purchases require that the prospect must have access to more information to make their decision and consequently you’ve got to ‘tell it to sell it’ more. Clearly, it takes a prospect longer to gather information and ultimately make a decision about something such as whether they’d want to buy one ream of copier paper or three reams of copier paper for their photocopier, than it would for them to decide whether to enter into a three year contract for managed services for all their staff.

Consequently, when it comes to sales copy, long copy that is properly written will almost always out-pull short copy that’s equally well written. I’m fully aware this means more work and it also means it’s more challenging to write long cope that’s engaging. Remember, copy can never be too long as long as it’s interesting and relevant but it can always be too long if it’s boring!

You can try this yourself if you sell products online and have plenty of traffic and sales which you can test. I’ve tested this myself for a client selling household products sold on Amazon years ago where you could write long copy full of great facts, persuasive components and calls to action and measure your conversion rates. You can chop off the the end of it to make the copy shorter and usually you’d see the conversion rate drop. And if it doesn’t drop, then the removed component was probably irrelevant to the reader anyway.

Now, let’s quickly look at beliefs.

Tapping Into Existing Beliefs.

Trying to get people to change their beliefs is an uphill struggle. Talk politics or religion to anyone for more than five minutes and you’ll know what I mean.  It’s far easier to tap into their existing beliefs and then write copy that will sit well with your prospect.

 So how do you do that? The answeris to make statements and ask questions early that make people identify their beliefs and then you can ‘tag’ your copy onto it. Obviously if you are talking to them in person, this is far easier, although with AI and chatbots these days, the lines are definitely blurring. So, for example, if you are selling an expensive product such as a high-end laptop, you could ask the question early on in the process “Don’t you think that quality is worth an extra investment?”   or  “Would you agree that you get what you pay for in life?” and you do this well before any prices are even mentioned.

Let’s say you are selling something like an antivirus solution that scans inbound emails and hyperlinks and the solution is renowned for being really good. However, your prospect believes that they are a really knowledgeable and careful user. As an aside, much like driving, many people over-estimate their abilities. You could ask a question such as “Is it likely everyone else in your team at work and at home are always as careful and concerned about your clients and your data as you are?” This is one example but you get the idea, namely that you’re using their own beliefs to confirm what you’re saying in the copy.

Interestingly, after you’ve tapped into a belief, people will defend your ideas because they will be defending their beliefs. More about this another time, although that leads us neatly on to the topic of consistency.

Establishing Consistency and Commitment

Early on, you will ideally get your prospect to ‘take a stand’ of some sort, then position your offer next to it.

Something along the lines of “We’ve found that most sensible CEOs invest in cyber-insurance.” Of course, we’d all like to think we’re sensible, wouldn’t we? Here, your prospect has taken a stand by declaring that they’re sensible, even if they’ve done it silently.

As an example, data backup solutions are sensible, and you can position them as such. Once positioned, you then go on further to attach emotions, draw scenarios and also use stories because stories work really, really well – more on those later. It’s important to ensure your readers agree with you quickly and want what you offer early on so that they keep this belief in their mind, ideally despite any problems that get in the way later on during the sale.

Anything that gets in the way of a previously held belief causes ‘cognitive dissonance’ and, like tension, people will try and reduce their state of tension, hopefully in your favour by buying your offer.

Getting Prospects To Say ‘YES’

You may have already heard of ‘yes sets’ before. This is where you ask your prospect a simple question early on that they’ll almost certainly say ‘yes’ to, or agree with. If you can do this several times, this can precondition them to be more likely to agree with you and say ‘yes’ to other things you mention later on, including your offer.

This can be very powerful indeed and you can see politicians, salespeople and hypnotists using it to gain compliance in their subjects. For example, in an in-person setting, if you have their contact details you can simply repeat someone’s phone number back to them and ask them if it’s correct, to get a ‘yes’.

It could be argued however that this is a little obvious and it’s certainly not a new technique so you might consider being a little more subtle by making them say ‘yes’ internally. This could be via a statement somewhere in your copy, such as “It’s a daunting task for business owners trying to make sure they don’t get hacked or scammed these days.” In this example, the reader’s reaction is an internal agreement which is still a ‘yes’ and still helps you gain affirmative-momentum.

There’s another concept of getting compliance from people to increase sales. Studies have shown that if someone says ‘yes’ to a small thing, they are much more likely to say yes to a big thing further on down the line.

Apparently, this is because psychologically, once someone has agreed to a small favour or commitment, they’re more inclined to continue to act in a consistent manner with their prior behaviour. This is due to self-perception theory and the desire for consistency, where people seek to align their external actions and decisions with their internal attitudes, beliefs, and values.

This is covered in Dr Robert Cialdini’s work in his excellent book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, which I thoroughly recommend to all business people.

In a sales letter, this might be enacted more subtly than asking to use someone’s lawnmower for example but could still include asking people to click on a tick-box or press a button or some other interactive component on a web-page. Then, when it comes to the main call to action – such as entering contact details or scanning a QR code or so forth, they should hopefully then become more primed to comply with your request to take you up on your offer.

However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves and we’ll look at the calls to action in another session, but before that, we need to look at lots more ways to build interest and desire to action action, which we’ll continue next time.


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Mike Knight