Do you despise long sales letters, yellow highlighters and blood-red, hype-laden headlines?
These tried and true copywriting tactics are proven winners at converting “cold” traffic into paying customers – and $10,000-a-page copywriters use them without hesitation because they appeal to the baser instincts of the easily swayed. They may be embarrassing to look at, but historically, they’ve just plain worked.
But if you’re a Third Tribe type of marketer, you’re in a quandary because you know these push-comes-to-shove sales page tactics just won’t work in your case.
They won’t work for you because you won’t be able to sleep at night. They won’t work for your audience either, because they’re smart and savvy, and they’ll lose faith in you and go off in search of someone more professional.
But these cheesy tactics are tempting nonetheless, because you’ve seen them on pages that you know are converting a lot of customers. Against your better instincts, you might feel a pull to use just one or two of them to stack the deck in your favor – especially if your current page isn’t converting as well as you’d hope.
There’s good news, though – you don’t have to sell your integrity to sell more of your products. All you need to do is learn how to use some semantic aikido to harness the power of these psychologically effective strategies – all the while saying “hold the cheese.”
Let’s take a look at 5 “hard sell” tactics and apply some Third Tribe magic to make them feel better for you and your future customers.
The “Everything Will Be Better In A Week” Tactic
You see this one all the time, online or off. Online it’s usually “Give me 7 days and you’ll have a horde of customers trampling each other to give you their money!” Offline it could be more subtle, such as the SlimFast slogan “Give us a week – we’ll take off the weight.” The promise is significant (as it should be in a headline) but it’s not realistic.
Sure, it works on those desperate for results, and that’s why it will never go away. But your customers are smart enough to know that they can’t really get those results, and that hurts your credibility. They know they’re not going to go from zero to $20,000 in a week or go from a complete unknown to A-list blogger in 7 days, no matter what people tell you.
But it still works on the easily swayed, because they’re desperate for results. Your audience may be desperate as well, but they’re just too darned smart to fall for the idea of an “instant solution.” So what can you do?
Take The Third Tribe Approach: Instead of promising instant victory over a situation, promise them immediate progress instead. For example, “Give me 7 days, and you’ll have a detailed and doable plan of action for getting more customers in the door this month.”
You’re still making the implicit promise of getting more customers, but you’re explicitly promising something more realistic in the short term – a sense of certainty about what actions to take next. That’s what gets product sold while protecting your credibility.
The “Set It On Autopilot” Tactic
I’m seeing this more and more online, and I’m sure you are too – phrases like “The Lazy Marketer’s Guide To Building an Email List” or “(result happens) automatically while you sleep!” Again, this tactic works on the easily swayed, because they are likely to, well, be pretty lazy people. They don’t want to do the work. They want to push that big red magic button and get their results.
But when you’re pitching to a more savvy, successful audience, this tactic backfires almost immediately. They know that success takes hard work (because they worked hard to be successful!) and that there’s very, very little in life that falls into the “set it and forget it” realm. And beyond that, they know if something seems “too easy” it’s either not legit or something that’s bound to be ineffective.
But in reality, there may be things about your product or service that for the most part have a “hands-off” aspect (for example, building a fantastic landing page that brings opt-in subscribers to your list day in and day out). How do you position these types of things without resorting to cheesy language?
Take The Third Tribe Approach: Instead of using words like “lazy way,” “autopilot,” or “does the work for you,” focus on how this aspect of your offer is truly something that streamlines a process that your reader knows is time or effort-intensive. Then follow up with the measurable benefit they receive.
For example, an email autoresponder service that “pulls in new subscribers like clockwork” sounds corny. But a service that automates opt-in form creation and has reporting statistics frees you from coding so you can spend that time tweaking forms for higher conversion.
Now you’re talking about automating one aspect so you can redirect time to higher-value activities … and that kind of benefit-driven description makes for a stronger selling point.
The “You’re Lucky I’m Talking To You” Tactic
This off-putting tactic is a staple of someone following the heavy-handed marketing techniques that by and large, have worked on the easily swayed in the past. You’ll see it in phrases like “At my normal hourly rate of $2,000/hour (if you could even get me!) …” and implies authority (based on the price) and a tension-inducing scarcity of the marketer’s time.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with stating your rates – mine are fairly high, and I use them as a selling point – but when you use it as the predominant selling point, it can work against you. This is especially true if you bring it all up before you’ve made your other, more significant selling points. And talking about how you don’t have time for clients can come off as reputation-diminishing bragging.
Savvy audiences don’t fall for this – they know that bragging is usually a sign of insecurity. And who wants to buy from someone who’s working so hard to try and impress you?
Take The Third Tribe Approach: Instead of leading with how in-demand you are and how expensive your rates are, save this selling point until later and gently position it in terms of the overall value you’re presenting and how the delivery medium causes a change in pricing.
There’s nothing pushy about saying “This workshop represents what I would cover in a ten hour, $2,500 one-on-one consulting package. But since I can only offer a large package like that to so many people, I’ve distilled those ten hours of consulting into a self-paced workshop that you can purchase for $197.”
With this approach, you’re not making a in-your-face statement that can turn off savvy customers, but you are effectively communicating the true value of what you’re offering in a way they can respect.
The “You’re Dead Meat If You Don’t Buy” Tactic
Since fear-based selling can be such an effective tactic, marketers often paint a post-apocalyptic picture of what will happen if you don’t buy their products. You may be told your business will fail, your competitors will eat your lunch and your spouse will leave you for a smarter, younger version of you who knows these “insider secrets.”
The idea is that if the sense of panic can be cranked up, the urgent need to find a solution will appear. And in 99 cases out of 100, you’ll find that same marketer telling you that only their product can save you from certain doom.
You’re too smart for this “Chicken Little” sales tactic, and since your customers are too, you need an approach that can boost the feelings of urgency and desire without resorting to panic.
Take The Third Tribe Approach: Instead of saying “all is lost” and pulling out the melodrama, paint a picture of how a particular product will be harder to solve without your product (and easier with it).
For example, you could say “It’s certainly possible to network with other savvy online business owners simply by participating in blog comments and using Twitter, but that can be a slow process with uncertain results. Being in the Third Tribe forums, however, means you’re immersed in the highest concentration of willing-to-network entrepreneurs you’re likely to find on the Internet – and that can take your business to the next level much faster.”
Could you write an effective sales letter without this tactic? You could, but you’d have to work a lot harder. (Get it?)
The “There’s No Good Reason Not To Buy” Tactic
I recently read a sales letter with this message at the bottom and shook my head, knowing that a few easily swayed individuals would fall for it. Certainly, it stands to reason that this line could work, because it’s one of those “proven” staples of a “good sales letter.” But it falls flat when selling to a savvy reader. (Which is a shame, because this marketer had a relatively savvy audience).
Why is it such an off-putting phrase? For starters, it’s insulting. It implies that whatever reason you have for not buying isn’t a reasonable one, and calling your potential (and intelligent!) customers unreasonable is a sure way to lose the sale – especially since the marketer doesn’t even know the objection.
And that’s where it gets embarrassing – because when readers realize they do have valid objections, it’s the marketer who looks foolish. Goodbye sale.
Take The Third Tribe Approach: Instead of trying to push your customers into this kind of hard-line close, do a little up-front research and discover as many potential objections as you can. Take each one and build a pre-emptive response into your sales letter.
For example, if price is an objection, remind them of how your product can pay for itself quickly. If satisfaction is an objection, re-emphasize how strong your guarantee is. The more thoroughly you defuse potential objections before the close, the less you have to work to close the sale.
And instead of bullying customers into having “no good reason not to buy,” you’re reminding them of all the very good reasons they have to give your product a shot.
What’s Your Sales Page Personal Pet Peeve?
These are only five old-school tactics that make your sales page unattractive to the Third Tribe type of customer – and as a savvy entrepreneur you’re likely to have your own set of sales page elements that drive you crazy. Share them in the comments below – and if you don’t mind, briefly tell us what you see as the “Third Tribe” alternative.