Convert … Or Die

“First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”
~ Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross

Sometimes you’re on a sweet little vacation in Italy and you need to convert miles into kilometers.

Sometimes you’re smashing your thumb with a hammer doing some light roofing and you need to switch inches to centimeters.

If you’re in business (or sales, like the Glengarry boys above), and you want to stay alive, you need to find a way to regularly convert prospects into paying customers.

Conversion’s never an easy game to play, but it can be simple.

And it can be even simpler when you’ve got the right tools to work with …

In this episode Sonia and I discuss:

  • Why some of the most talented people on the planet are also the most broke
  • The wildly popular business model that can sink your business
  • How to find the people you need to be talking, writing, and selling to
  • The single communication method that will change your game
  • How to find an endless stream of in-demand business ideas and opportunities

Hit the flash player below to listen now:

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About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.

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  1. Where is Sparkle town? Is this Barrows, Alaska? Fargo, North Dakota? Enlighten me!

    Great! I’m glad you defined conversion…since it can be an immediate sale, lead generation, etc…taking an action.

    And how many times should we ask for the sale? More than once?

    While I listened, I remembered Joe Sugarman and the blue blocker sunglasses. NASA couldn’t find a use for them….the people whom Joe asked about the glasses said to forget them – they will never make a profit. Yet he ignored them and made a fortune.

    Features and benefits? Sure! Benefits are the usually way to go. But what if your audience consists of electrical engineers? Or a group of rocket scientists? And you are selling a piece of high-tech equipment? They would also need features! They may be turned off by benefits. But it raises a good question. Why do big ad agencies sometimes miss the benefit angle?

    The use of imagination to visualize talking to the idea customer (i.e. Karen), is something Clayton Makepeace emphasized many times. Unfortunately, he recently retired his blog (i.e a few days ago).

    Thanks for sharing some good ideas. Say – where’s Sparkle Town?

    Randy

    • Sparkle Town is my way of becoming a little less ransparent about where I live. I try not to make life *too* easy for web stalkers.

      Sugarman was a complete master of balancing features and benefits. Features aren’t bad, they just need to be accompanied by benefits. Even technical audiences need benefits — your lab will avoid time-wasting errors, your facility will experience X% less downtime, your team will meet its production quota.

      Most of the great old-style copywriters have a clearly visualized ideal customer. Dan Kennedy has said that his is Al Bundy (the character from Married with Children). Which explains a lot about why I don’t feel comfortable with his style, even though his information is usually very good … I’m not Al Bundy. I’m not the person he’s talking to.

      The more times you present an offer (ask for a sale), the more sales you will make. It needs to be balanced against people getting worn out from being overpitched, and there’s no single answer — it depends on you and your market.

  2. This podcast continues to amaze me guys. You’re so well versed in this stuff that it just oozes out of you, and it’s awesome.

    So Robert, did you finally come up with a headline that passed the Great Judge? This one looks like you. :)

    And don’t worry Sonia, here in Oklahoma we’re in over our heads in snow. Like over a foot. And yesterday I spent about 2.5 hours shoveling snow.

    It’s fun Robert. You’re missing out. :P

  3. (Second prize is a set of steak knives is my favorite sales quote ever, btw. Even more than coffee is for closers.)

  4. I love you guys! ;-)

    No really, where is the “love” button? ;-)

    I exactly asked Brian via twitter few days ago, what to sell and what to give for free…

    So as from what i understand you give solutions for free and give even better and sexier solutions for money? :)

    By the way I found Sparkle town on google maps, it’s some where in the west coast…

  5. Great information! I especially liked the idea of creating an avatar… a specific individual with details about her life, and with a NAME.

    So often we feel like we are just sending information out to a nameless, faceless crowd. If we give them names and faces, our voice then changes. Suddenly we are speaking to someone real, which therefore makes us more real.

  6. Appreciate you talking directly at this. I’m your poster child for this problem, temporarily.

    High points for me in your talk:
    – the reminder ‘your ideal customer has lots of money to pay for your services’.
    – targeting an audience that wants to buy something, not that just wants to feel good
    – remind them I am selling exactly what they now realize they want
    – not being clever or vague in the call to action.

    Very useful, friendly, direct lesson. Thank you so much, Sonia. This really hits the spot with actions I can implement right now, with my brand-new websites and a post to write today.
    Best to you

    ( BTW it was -14 here in Santa Fe last night too, all the way up to 0 by now, fahrenheit. )

  7. This is awesome as usual. It really comes down to getting over yourself, understanding the game and playing it. Just because you see through something doesn’t mean you are smart enough to execute. I love the papal talk metaphor – it’s so true! Got a lot out of this one. Thanks Bruce and Sonia!

  8. I used to think that people would just convert if what I’m doing or offering is awesome enough.

    And true, I’ve had readers become employers and clients from my old blog. But that was over a span of 5 years and having one of the most popular blogs in my niche. It also happened by accident!

    Now that I’m trying to get people to convert on purpose, in much bigger numbers, in a much shorter time, I see that I have to learn about the science of persuasion.

    And it kind of sucks.

    So, being awesome isn’t enough? Now I have to be a politician? A marketer?

    What gets me comfortable with the whole idea is that I’m sure that I’m saving people’s careers. People get burnt out or discouraged and leave my industry all the time. The turnover is super high.

    I know that Career Green Light will help them be successful and get paid for their creativity. I just have to convert them.

    • Every human being is in the persuasion business, Hashim, just by living life. Some are just better than others. ;)

    • The good news is, the more awesome you have to offer, the less conversion you have to do. In the Third Tribe seminar we posted last week with Pam Slim, I talked a little about how even with a fairly clumsy close, I was able to get a really nice number of sales at a conference … because I stacked up enough awesome to get me through the clumsiness.

      And you’ll pick up techniques that will become second-nature before you know it. :)

  9. Such smooth voices. Felt like an NPR broadcast. Good info.

  10. Great interview. Also,is it just me or is this the first year that the States experience the bulk of our Canadian winter? By the by, I love the idea of writing for an avatar. I’ll have to try that out.

  11. Great interview. I have to say that most of the time the copyblogger radio is just an entertainment for me, but today I learned a lot about the conversion and how it works, thanks. Keep up this quality work.
    Greg

  12. Ooh, you had dental references in this one – selling the allure of a sparkly smile. You’ve hit upon my industry’s weakness. So many of us are stuck in the “disease business” –peddling remedies and repairs. We haven’t translated our services into emotional transformations.

    Brilliant stuff. Loved the part of writing to an avatar to create intimacy and connection. Pope on a balcony… so funny because I’m guilty of that one.

    Joe :D

  13. Excellent podcast for today. Thank you for sharing your ideas on how to converts people into customers/clients.

  14. Never heard such an interesting podcast with great information (well I am newbie here). The idea of creating an Avatar is what amuses me most. I am not into heavy business now, but I am in this online world to create a successful business. I hope following your ideas will help me to get what I want.

  15. ‘Why some of the most talented people on the planet are also the most broke’

    That’s a very interesting discussion point. I’ve been shouting into a cave for years hearing myself speak (reading my own stuff) and it’s frustrating writing for years and seeing no fruit from it. Only once you embrace IM, SEO, and the basic of blogging (commenting, forums and pillar content) would you see results. You gotta play the game by the rules. Nobody made them, it’s just the way it is.

    ‘He that doesn’t like playing with other plays alone’.

  16. Thanks for the reminder to write for a single person. I often find myself writing as if I am leading a workshop rather than having a coffee with just one person. I’ll try to shift my style to instead imagining 1-1 conversations rather than with the group.

  17. what ever happened to imfsp-radio-9 and imfsp-radio-10?

    Did i miss 2 episodes or did you skip them ?

  18. Sonia,

    Great examples of drilling down to the true “thing” that taking an action will create. The peace-of-mind you are trying to convey with benefits takes time to sort out, at least for me.

    Thanks to Copyblogger, I’m getting a doctorate in marketing!

  19. In the podcast at around 7:20 you mentioned a comedian who tried to write a book, and then moved on to business websites. I couldn’t make out his last name or find someone on google. Who was it?