How to Write a
Third Tribe Sales Letter (Part 2)

image of a check box

You might remember that in the last lesson, we started to dissect a traditional “yellow highlighter” sales letter — the kind used by traditional high-pressure Internet marketers.

Their kind of sales letter is designed to work like a harpoon. You get one shot at your prospect, and you either make the sale or the prospect swims away forever.

We spent a lot of time just on the headline (which was fair enough, since it’s about 5 lines long). Today we’re going to get into the body of the ad.

The first mention of the offer

This kind of ad is called “direct response,” because you make an offer and then watch (and measure) to see how well prospects respond to that offer.

Jargon watch: An “offer” is what you’ve got to sell and how much you’re going to charge for it.

For higher-priced products, most copywriters are coy about the price until they’ve had a chance to sell you on how fantastic the product is. But because the price for this particular product is under $100, this sales page introduces the price early on.

Get It All For Just $47 Right Now

That “Just $47” is hyperlinked to an order form, giving the prospect the ability to buy the product right away.

”You had me at hello”

I call this the “you had me at hello” offer. Sometimes people don’t need a lot of “selling” or trust-building to order from you. They may already know you by reputation, they may have been referred by someone they trust, or your opening headline and first few lines may have communicated everything they need to know.

For a big-dollar item, this technique can scare this reader off permanently. You’re going too fast, too soon.

But for something less expensive, you can bring price up fairly early in your relationship.

If your main communication vehicle is a blog, you might have a banner ad for a product at the bottom of each post (as we do on Copyblogger for the Genesis theme framework for WordPress.)

If you’re using an email autoresponder (which you should, if you aren’t already), you can put a low-key offer into one of the early messages. Or you might promote a smaller product, like an ebook, in each message you send.

Let them know what you’re there for

I love the expression “Begin as you mean to go on.”

This isn’t just about making a small sale. It’s about communicating to your audience that you are going to provide fantastic value with content and you’re going to give them an opportunity to buy something.

Let them know early on that your relationship has a commercial side.

You might think that going for years without “pitching” anything would endear you to your audience. But in fact, it tends to just make them cranky when you finally get around to asking for the sale.

(If that’s where you are, you should still do it. Just realize that you’ll make a few of them cranky.)

If you don’t have a product of your own to offer for sale, and you don’t have the free time to create one now, find an excellent product in your topic and see if you can represent it on an affiliate basis. (Here’s a refresher on how to do that.)

Ask for a small investment early on, making sure buyers get fantastic value for their money. This lays a foundation that will pay off handsomely later.

Jumping into features and benefits

Directly under that initial offer, the sales letter starts to introduce the benefits of buying the product.

Transform Your Widget-Creation Instantly with Lessons from the Widget-Hacking LEGENDS! The Most POWERFUL, PROVEN AND PROFITABLE Lessons in Widget Creation From the Past 100 Years.

This could, frankly, be a little stronger. This is the section of the sales letter that I’d test some variations on, if I was running it.

The words the copywriter chose to highlight (in all capital letters, a technique you should probably avoid in social media) are legends, powerful, proven, and profitable.

“Legends” is, of course, about establishing the advice in the product as something that’s stood the test of time. This is echoed by the word “proven,” and by “from the past 100 years.”

In the word “profitable” we move to what this particular customer wants, which is to make money. “Powerful” is a little bit of a junk word here, but it creates nice alliteration with proven and profitable, which I assume is why it’s there.

Communicating features and benefits for the Third Tribe

Persuasion for Third Tribe marketers obviously looks pretty different. But we still want, fairly early in our communication, to start hinting at the fantastic benefits of doing business with us.

It doesn’t matter what you sell or how you’re selling it; people need to know what they’ll get out of doing business with you.

The most compelling way to do this is often with a story. Talk about how someone (someone, in fact, who looks a lot like your reader) was able to realize her dreams of widget-building bliss by using certain techniques, tools, and methods.

You’re not pitching yourself as the solution at this point. Instead, just start to paint a picture of what success looks like for your reader.

Autoresponders, again, are a great tool for something like this. You can also use interviews (text, podcasts, or video) and special reports.

Remember that stories are inherently “shareable.” Get interesting success stories on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else people are sharing content. At the end of each one, include a low-key call to action to check out something interesting on your website or blog.

Getting them to say yes

image of a check boxYes! I want to transform my widgets with the most POWERFUL, PROVEN and PROFITABLE widget-hacking lessons from the last 100 years!

This is an old school sales method. As the theory goes, you get the prospect to say yes to a lot of little things, and they’ll say yes to the big stuff because of our innate psychological habit of consistency.

In other words, people are hard-wired to want to behave consistently with how they’ve behaved in the past.

In practice, most prospects over the age of 7 have seen this technique used, and it tends to make them squirm away. It feels like you’re being sold to, which is an unpleasant feeling.

Instead of getting a prospect to check an artificial box or trying to “make” them say the word yes, the Third Tribe marketer invites discussion and interaction.

Give potential customers a place to ask questions, enter a conversation with you (and with other customers), and respond to your work.

You’re using the same principle (consistency), but in a way that doesn’t feel sales-y. You’re enticing them to behave in a way that shows they trust and like you, and that trust and like can become habit-forming.

The details of the offer

It’s probably obvious that if you want to sell something, you have to provide a clear description of exactly what the customer is going to get.

Obvious, but surprisingly easy to forget if you’re not an experienced salesperson. (I know, because I’ve done it.)

You’ve got to let people know about the features of the product, as well as all of the logical and emotional benefits they’ll enjoy after they get it.

Here’s a spot where we “Third Tribers” can benefit from studying the yellow highlighter brigade more carefully. Notice how clearly the features and benefits of the product are explained.

I understand . . . I get access to the entire Live 2-Hour Training with Sonia Simone, where she’ll hand me the MOST EFFECTIVE WIDGET HACKS OF ALL TIME.

I understand . . . I also get access to the Video and Audio Recordings of the entire training, as well as the Word-for-Word PDF transcript so I can go through the training materials as often as I like.

I understand . . . I also get a FREE 30-Day Trial Membership to the FOUNDERS CLUB which gives me INSTANT ACCESS to 5 of your top widget-creation and widget-hacking programs. And, if I want to continue with my Founders Club membership it’s only $47 a month.

Everything is spelled out — exactly what you get, and a few benefits like “so I can go through the training materials as often as I like.”

There are also a few good verbs used. So I’m not just going to give you the widget hacks, I’m going to hand them to you. The implication there is that you’re not going to have to do any work at all to get them, this transition will be effortless.

For this particular market, “easy payoff with no work” is an important sales point. Rather than making a claim (which might attract a bit too much FTC attention), the verb hints at the point without directly making a promise of results.

If you’re going to model anything from this sales letter, this section is decent. This is perfectly good copy (if a little on the hypey side) for a landing page or anywhere else you’re spelling out an offer.

The next lesson wraps up the Third Tribe sales letter

In the next lesson we’ll take a look at what this sales letter is really selling. (It’s not the relatively inexpensive Widget Hacks product.)

We’ll also look at the close of the sales letter. Just like with face-to-face selling, that “close” is one of the most important parts of the sale. It moves the prospect over the threshold to becoming a buyer. And no matter what color highlighter we’re using, that’s the goal.

Sonia Simone


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