The Secret to Landing Pages That Sell? Understand Your Unique Star …

image of fingerprint on paper

Almost every big Hollywood blockbuster you’ve ever watched has common factors. There is the star, and then there is the supporting cast.

The star gets all the lines. The star gets to do most of the work. The star is the focus, and gets most of the glory. The movie is about the star.

So what does the supporting cast do?

The supporting cast have smaller roles, fewer lines. They have less work to do, but it’s crucial work.

Your sales page is a lot like that. And understanding how these two Hollywood factors work together can make all the difference in building landing pages that sell.

As every regular Copyblogger reader knows, a good sales page has features and benefits of a product or service. It has some fascinating bullet points. It has a strong headline. It has a compelling opening paragraph.

These elements are your supporting cast. They highlight the things that the customer needs and wants to know about your product or service.

But they’re not the star.

The star of your landing page is the uniqueness of the product or service. The star gets a lot more space. A lot more explanation. And in fact, the script writer (that’s you) may re-write the entire story to let a particular star shine more brightly.

Understanding the concept of the star and the supporting cast

If you understand this concept, you won’t beat your head against a wall trying to tease out the uniqueness of your product or service.

Realize that both the star of your landing page and its supporting cast have important roles to play. There’s an old theatre line that goes, “There are no small parts, only small actors,” and in the case of selling online, it’s true.

Only one element can be the star of your story. You need to find that single remarkable benefit (it may be “hidden” in the laundry list of benefits) that you can hook your story to.

Finding the star — that remarkable unique element — will take some work, but if you leave the big chunk of your page to spotlight it, it’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

A slightly flawed example of the uniqueness concept

If you ask anyone why they bought an Apple iPhone 4s, many will answer with one word …


Siri is an app on iPhone 4S that — by speaking directly to “her” — lets you send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Siri understands what you say (most of the time), talks back, and even “understands” the context of what you’ve asked.

So ask someone why they’re buying a 4s and they know the star — they know the uniqueness factor that’s causing them to lay down their cash for an upgrade.

image of apple iphone landing page

Can you spot the flaw in the landing page above? Of course you can.

The iPhone customer knows that Siri is the star — the uniquely remarkable benefit — but Apple is trying to stuff the whole enchilada into one graphic.

And worse, the real star gets booted to the bottom of the page.

But hold on, there are all those other features

There’s the  8-megapixel resolution and a custom lens with a larger f/2.4 aperture.

There’s the Dual-core A5 chip. Let’s not forget Video recording in 1080p HD.

And other such features. And yes, blah, blah, blah dee blah.

They’re all playing their roles. But they are the supporting cast, not the star. Siri takes the lead role here. Siri is the reason that the 4s stands out like it does.

And so it will be with every single iPhone that Apple produces in the future:

There will be a star that will drive home the uniqueness. And there will be the supporting cast.

On your landing page, the star should always get the most lines. The most drama.  The most ad time.

Nothing should eclipse the uniqueness of your product.

Once the client knows why they want to buy a product, they’re no longer comparing phones — they’re now comparing iPhones. They’re actually rejecting the iPhone 4, even though it’s half the price or even less. And they’re choosing the iPhone 4s for that one reason only.

What’s your one reason?

Every product or service has several great features and benefits.

You’ve always been afraid to choose the uniqueness of that product, because it would mean that you’d have to slaughter and sacrifice the rest.

Technically yes, the slaughter and sacrifice is needed, but only while you’re making sure the uniqueness gets the star role. Once that role has been established, you can bring back the rest of the features and benefits to play their role as supporting crew.

And that makes a good movie.

And a good sales page.

And they’ll all live happily ever after.

The End 😉

About the Author: Sean D’Souza offers a great free report on ‘Why Headlines Fail’ when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Be sure to check out his blog, too.

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Reader Comments (43)

  1. says

    Some great points, Sean

    Never really thought about a landing page from this angle, but some very good points.

    Finding the star, well, that’s the next step :)

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  2. says

    Thanks to Sean for an insightful article. I had never really considered highlighting just ONE benefit from the laundry list of features in order to present a more compelling case. Like many others, I often fell into the trap of believing that just offering more benefits would be better, and more persuasive.

    Now, I can see that picking one and pushing it to the forefront, to make it the dominant feature, is the way to go. The next challenge is to find new and creative ways to turn a mundane-sounding benefit into the star its destined to be :-)

    • says

      Less is not always better, because bullets and features have their place in enticing a customer to buy, but the key element is the uniqueness. And that needs star treatment.

  3. says

    Very interesting twist. I really like it.

    I agree that it comes down to one reason. That allows laser focus on getting your potential lead to act and then delivering what you say you will.

    Great article.

  4. says

    “Nothing should eclipse the uniqueness of your product.”
    Great point! Why are you trying to water down what makes your product special? Being vanilla to appeal to a wider audience means no one is going to be interested. Stick to what makes it unique and useful.

    • says

      Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Until you want someone to pick something. e.g. if they’re selling a house, they want to highlight all the features.

      Takes great courage and focus to stick to ONE point.

  5. MarVeena says

    Thank you Sean for some sales page ideas!
    I am just starting to use sales pages on my blog and have quite a time trying to finesse them.
    Thank you!

  6. says

    Well put, Sean. This reminds me of a discussion I heard recently about consistency in advertising. The thesis was similar, that people know the star and get confused and distracted if you change the star mid-stream (as in, I pitch Siri in a PPC ad, but the landing page is more concerned with other features like above). A good reminder to pay attention to your USP and ad scent.

  7. says

    You’ve some great points Here. I truly believe in optimizing landing pages to produce better results. Identifying your winning key is important. As you said, your star!

  8. says

    Great information! I like how you broke down the landing page into an analogy that is easy to understand. Keep the great content coming.

    I’m wondering though, what would you have thought if, while putting Siri at the bottom of the list, they had increased the font size, bolded, and maybe italicized the information about Siri? Would that have been making Siri the star?

    • says

      Well yes, but it would be an ugly layout. Apple’s got a lot more class than that. They have made the screen the star with the iPad 3 example, though.

  9. says

    Sean. Great points and I think this is a very overlooked point. Having a “decent” landing page with “decent” messaging is so different than having a landing page with some message or “star” that turns lookie-loo’s into subscribers. Thanks for putting this idea into words!

  10. says

    Hi Sean,
    This is awesome information.

    You write that the slaughter and sacrifice is needed and I couldn’t agree more, sometimes we try to stuff everything we can in, but only one can truly be the star. I’m just finishing my new software and with these new thoughts I’ll be able to sell it better.


  11. says

    I like your example about a movie cast, but it doesn’t apply to all means. It applies to the smaller means. The big boys don’t have to follow the same rules.

    Let’s take, for example, a Hollywood movie. You know actors like Will Smith and Tom Hanks, but do you know the director behind every movie? When there’s a movie preview and it says, “From the director of MovieX, starring Tom Hanks and Will Smith”, do you focus more on who directed the movie or who is in it? Who is in it, of course! They’re the big boys – the director isn’t.

    Now let’s look at Apple. Apple is a big boy. Their selling point (among others) for the iPhone 4S is Siri, but they don’t have to market it for Siri. Everybody knows it has Siri. They are allowed to show as many new features and have it still be understood that Siri is the highlight of the device. They’re basically trying to show other key features so that they can attract a bigger audience.

    If movies marketed like Apple does, it’d be different. If movie previews said, “Starring cast members from I Am Legend, directed by John Doe.”, would they pull in as many viewers? Probably not. There’s the distinction between the big players and the smaller ones.

    • says

      If you watch the presentation that Steve Jobs used to make, you’ll notice that he did isolate one thing. The big boys have to play by the same rules as the little ones. They just use their millions of dollars in PR to get a message to you differently. Just because you’re Apple, doesn’t mean you can just bring out a new product without a big deal. If If you look at iPad 1 launch vs. IPad 3 launch, there’s a big difference. It’s the same product, in a way, but iPad 3 is because of the millions of pixels on the screen. That’s the ONE thing that they’re driving home. With Siri too, everyone didn’t know Siri. They drove home the facts with their advertising over and over again.

    • says

      You’ve also misunderstood the concept of the star vs. the cast. Every movie has to have a star. This doesn’t mean the star is Tom Hanks. It could be Joe Nobody. But that person still has to carry the movie, while the supporting cast helps Joe Nobobdy to get the message across.

      That’s what you need to do with one feature from your list. It can be a Joe Nobody, but you can still elevate it to star-status. And we may think our feature is not that exciting, but it is.

      Check out this post on Copyblogger:

  12. says

    I like the way you write, Siri. I mean Sean. Sorry about that. I agree that your landing page must have that star appeal which will drive the readers to that individual unique element that’s the focus of your landing page.

  13. says

    Spot on! I’d say that no amount of great copy can ever help put a mediocre product/service on the limelight. Now your post got me thinking and I have to go back to the drawing boards.

  14. Chris says

    Right on the money. All I kept hearing in my head is “research, research, research”. To know your star you have to know your audience. Their pain points, their motivations, and their aspirations. Your star on your squeeze page will ease the pain and give them hope. But you know none of this without research. Great post!

    • says

      Actually, you don’t need research at all. Your product or service can have a feature, or you can take a feature and make it wonderful. e.g. If you took me, as an example. I wake up at 4am every day. I’m known as the 4am guy. There’s no research required to know that someone who wakes up and writes at 4am (without coffee), gets a certain amount of respect.

      The same applies to any product or service. We believe that our product or service is not quite that interesting, but every product or service has drama. You just have to find it and then drive home that uniqueness to your audience.

  15. says

    Great way to think about messaging. I love the example with the Apple ad. Even the best marketers in the world sometimes make the basic mistakes.

    • says

      Apple’s ad on the iPad has changed a bit. Their page now gives star status to resolution of the iPad 3. More than half the space on the banner ad + the graphic is dedicated to the resolution alone.

  16. says

    This article helped me tremendously! Thanks so much!

    Your “Star” concept got me thinking and pondering about competing in a crowd field of ideas, not just landing pages. I applied it to the overall marketing strategy for my On-Purpose® message. The message is foundational and it lives at the congested intersection of life and work. It orients, transforms, and raises trajectories.

    As the pioneer of the conversation around purpose, I’ve seen many speakers, authors, coaches, and consultants jump on the “purpose” bandwagon. The purpose message is being diluted in a sea of newbie imitators as well as many trusted authorities. Lots of people wading into the shallow end of the pool but few dare tread to the deep end of this most intimate idea.

    Here is my “Star” – the two-word purpose statement! No one else in the world does purpose statements like this. Since the late 1980s. I’ve been helping individuals and organizations articulate their spiritual DNA so they can lead lives or cultures, respectively, around the simplest, yet most elegantly powerful concepts to making things make sense! All in two words with the generic beginning, I exist to serve by…

    Thanks Sean for the unintended consequence when writing about landing pages. You landed a winner with me. A heartfelt thanks.

    Be On-Purpose!

  17. says

    Some good points here. However, I will argue that the reason people buy the iphone 4s is because it’s the latest iPhone and not for any particular feature.

  18. says

    The thing is, there are always going to be tools to the system that always have to have the newest big thing that is pushed on the public. It’s a total mind control psy-op in my eyes. I’m not all about conspiracy theories or anything, but it is really hard to have a normal face to face conversation with a lot of people these days. With the obsession with all the new gadgets and whatnot, I just think that the people that really run things, know that something big is going to happen soon, and they want all our eyes glued to handheld devices so that we are pretty much tuned out of reality and the universe that we are traveling through. Anyways, happy blogging everybody.

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