How to Write Great Sales Copy that Sells Any Info Product (Even if You Flunked English) With Lisa Rothstein
Welcome to this edition of the Real Fast Results podcast! Today, you are going to learn something that’s vital to your business, and that is the ability to actually use words to persuade people to do what you want them to do. That, in the business, is called sales copy. A very special guest is joining us today, and she is actually going to share how to go about writing sales copy that sells. The really cool thing from your standpoint is that this will be presented to you as though you were a complete newbie in order to make sure that each aspect of this is made clear. Please welcome Lisa Rothstein to the show…
Even if you think that you can’t write anything, you’re going to be able to learn how to write sales copy to sell your information products or courses. You may have flunked high school English class, but you’ll still find that you are able to do this.
Benefits of Writing Your Own Sales Copy
Here’s a great question to start with: “What are the benefits of actually putting time/effort/energy into this?” A lot of people want to just outsource their copy to a copywriter like me. I have written copy professionally for years and years, both in the advertising industry, business and in the digital marketing space. There’s a time for that, but if you don’t know how to write your own copy, it sometimes means that you don’t really even understand your own business.
A lot of times people will come to me and ask me to write some sales copy or a sales page for them, and they won’t have their target market figured out and a lot of other elements of their business figured out. They just expect someone else to figure their business out for them. It’s kind of a diagnostic tool to see how well you’re selling and why it’s good and beneficial to people.
I’ve also taught people to write their own sales copy to the point where they end up seeing the value of what they have to offer, way more than they did before. That’s because when they have to write out all those bullet points telling people why it’s great, it makes them go, “Wow! This is pretty awesome. I’m going to double the price of the product.” If they hadn’t of written it themselves, I don’t think they would have had that experience.
Obviously, the big benefit of knowing how to write better sales copy is that you will sell more of your stuff. But, there’s also a lot of other ancillary benefits. For instance, the confidence you have in what you’re offering is so exponential when you have crafted the message yourself. When someone asks you about it, you’ll be able to talk about it because you have a grounding in what you’re selling. That’s why I’m so passionate about helping people learn how to do this themselves.
I often tell people to write their sales pages before they even decide what to put into the product because as they’re doing that they’ll say, “Hey, you know what would be really cool? I should put this bonus in here because it feels like it would fit right here…” In other words, it gives them the idea to put it into the product. So, it’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s not a separate process, and that’s why, I think, some people delegate too early.
The other big reason to write your own copy is that, even though a professional might have a little better way with words, but they could also just dial up a little of what you’ve done yourself. So, you could give them a really good first draft of what you want to say in a clear way, they could do so much better of a job. Plus, it’s still your ideas and your work, whereas if you just hand it off you advocate. I don’t like that. I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to do in business. I thoroughly agree with that.
3 Reason Why People Feel Writing Sales Copy Is Hard
Before I get to the five steps I’m going to tell you about for the actual page itself, I want to share three reasons why people think this is so hard. A lot of people are probably thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag. I can’t do this. I’ve sat down and tried, and I just can’t.” There are three reasons why this is hard, okay?
- It’s Difficult to be Objective About Yourself – The #1 reason why it’s hard is because it’s difficult to be objective about yourself. I’m sure that many of the people out there could turn into their best friend or colleague and figure out ways to talk about that person’s product, but when it comes to selling yourself, whether you are a coach, or a consultant, and so on, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. Also, especially if you’re a woman, you don’t like to brag, so there can be some resistance going on. That’s one reason. Being objective is tough.
- There Is No Sales Copy Secret- The second reason is that there are a lot of copyrighting gurus out there, and I really don’t count myself as one of them, but they’ll tell you that there are all these secrets. Maybe there’s this secret handshake or this secret world that you have to know about in order to write great copy, or maybe that you have to be a really amazing writer and only certain people with the talent to do this can do it. That’s absolutely not true. We’ve already talked about that. It’s really not true. While there are some people that enjoy it and are skilled at it, there’s a big difference between writing this kind of copy that we do in the digital marketing space and the kind of Madmen “creative” stuff that I used to do in the advertising business. That’s a whole different animal you don’t need. You shouldn’t be doing that kind of clever, slick stuff in our space anyway. So, all the secret stuff, what I’m going to teach you today is really going to blast that out of the water.
- The Challenge of the Blank Page – The third thing is the challenge of the blank page, which is true for everyone, professional writers included. That blank screen paralyses everyone. You don’t know where to start or how to start. What I’m going to teach you now is going to help you with all of those things. It’s going to help you with your objectivity. It’s going to help you realize that there really are no secrets because if you do these five things that you’re about to be taught, you’re really 99% of the way there, to having really great sales copy. This will also help you with the “blank page” phenomenon because it will give you five different ways to get started. Starting is the hardest part.
5 Steps to Writing Great Sales Copy
I actually learned four of these five steps on the first week on the job in the ad business. I came out of college, and I didn’t know what I was doing, and all of these old men, with their pipes and their bow ties, were there, and you know, I was totally intimidated. But, my boss took me to the side and gave me this piece of advice, that I’ve been using ever since all these years. He said, “Lisa, there’s really only four steps to writing great copy.” Now, that was advertising, so I added a fifth step. You’re not going to understand them right now, but you will when I go through them. The five steps are:
- “Oh dear!”
- “Good News”
- “Here’s Why”
- “That’s Right”
- “But wait…There’s More!”
I’m going to teach you this, but learning is remembering. The fact of the matter is, you see this every single day. It’s just like any other kind of structure. Like, if someone teaches you structure and then you go to the movies and you say, “Oh my gosh! There’s Act II…And there’s the inciting incident.” You learn the structure and then you see it everywhere. So, whenever you watch an infomercial, you’ll see this. Next time you’re up at 3:00 in the morning, turn on the television, and you will see this in action. You may not want to be as blatant as they are in your work, but it’s what’s underneath even the most elegant sales copy that you’ll see. It’s in the framework.
Step 1 “Oh Dear!”
The first expletive, “Oh dear,” is where you’ll state the problem. You’ve got a ring around the collar, and you have tried soaking and scrubbing. This works for both Madison Avenue and digital marketing. Basically, this is where you explore why the reader’s life sucks right now without your solution. One of the things that I like to do with my own clients that you can do too, which it helps to do it with a partner, is to actually pretend to be your ideal client and sit with someone else and pretend that person is your therapist.
So, you’re their client, and you come to them with a problem, and they’re like, “Okay, what seems to be the problem?” You might say something like, “Well, I’m 40 and I haven’t had a date in years. I’m afraid that I’m never going to meet anybody. I’m afraid that I’m always going to be alone and my biological clock is ticking, so I’m not going to be able to have any kids. And, every time I go on a cruise, I have to go as a single person, and every time I go visit my family for Christmas or Thanksgiving, everyone asks me, ‘So, when are you going to settle down,’ and it’s just horrible and I hate it.”
The more you talk about the problem, the more you’ll express all of that stuff, and the more that will feed your ideas. When you go to write your copy, your ideas will flow more easily, and you’ll end up saying something like, “Are you worried that you’ll be single forever? Do you hate going to family functions because people are always asking about when you’re going to meet someone? Do you feel like a third wheel with your friends, and when you go on vacation, do you have to be all alone? Are you concerned that it’s going to be this way forever and you’re just going to die alone and never have any kids?”
You can put the ideas you’ve had during your role playing right into your sales copy, and the readers of that copy are going to be like, “Oh my God! How do they know I feel this way?” So, really try to sit down and explore all the reasons why the person would need to use your product. Think about every area of a person’s life when you are thinking about how their problem affects them. How does it affect their health? How does it affect their career? How does it affect their financial situation? You know, all of these sorts of things. Just brainstorm and download all of this misery, and then you pick and choose the juiciest ones to put into your sales copy.
It’s about illuminating, expanding upon, and explaining how that problem is affecting the life of your prospect, and in an emotional way. Sometimes you have to be talking for a while before you actually hit the emotion. Something that has happened to me and some of my clients is that they go through this practice and actually start crying. They are so closely identifying with that person, and they’re like, “Oh, it’s so terrible that she’s never going to meet anyone, and she’ll never have kids, and she’ll always wonder what life could have been like if she had been able to find a partner.” That’s just one example, of course.
The problem is that a lot of writers, and a lot of writing teachers, will tell you to say what keeps them (your prospect) up at night. That has become so cliché and intellectually based in people’s minds that people really can’t reach any kind of depth that way anymore. This process helps you to get into the emotional space a little bit better. People justify with logic, but they buy on emotion. So, if you can connect with them emotionally, and you can articulate to them even better than they could even explain it themselves, what the problem is, why it is a problem, and what it feels to have it, they are going to believe that you have the solution. It’s just a psychological reflex for people to subconsciously think, “I believe that you have the answer because you’ve been able to explain the problem so well, so clearly, and so emotionally.”
The most important thing to remember, when you’re writing any kind of work, but especially sales copy, is that the creative process is to brainstorm everything. Don’t write; just get it all out there. What options would you have. It’s like smearing the paint onto the pallet, if you were a painter, and then saying, “I’m going to take a little bit of the red that I squeezed out, and a little bit of blue that I squeezed out, and dab it onto the picture.” You’re not going to use it all, but until it’s all out there, you don’t know what you have to work with. Often, people go straight into the writing, and then they wonder why it’s flat and paralyzed. You aren’t writing at first, you’re just squeezing the paint onto the board. That’s it.
Step 2 “Good News”
Now you’ve gone wait deep into the problem, and why it sucks to be them, and all the effects it’s going to have on their life. “Well, guess what? You’ve got this problem. Well, good news! There’s a solution! Introducing my brand new, handy-dandy whatever it is…That is going to solve all those problems.” Now you might want to paint an opposite picture by imagining when you have this problem solved, imagining what it’s going to be like when you bring the love of your life to Thanksgiving dinner and everyone loves him, and you plan your vacations together, and there are all of these memories that you get to share. I’m just making stuff up, and you don’t necessarily have to go into all of this detail.
You’ve stirred the pot in your “Oh Dear” section to the point where people really want to believe that you have the solution that they need, so they are just waiting for you to prove to them that what you have to offer works. They want to believe you. This leads into Step #3, which is “Here’s why”.
Step 3 “Here’s Why”
This is where a lot of people mistakenly start. “Here’s why it works. Here’s how it works. Here’s why I know what I’m talking about…Because I went through the same thing too, and here’s my story. Here’s why you can believe me…Because it worked for all these other people who are going to give you their testimonials right here. Here’s another reason you can believe me…Because I’m going to give you a money-back guarantee. Here’s the process. Here’s all you’re going to get.”
You might offer to give your prospects 8,000 hours of MP3s, and workbooks, and workshops, and live events, etc. A lot of people start with that. Nobody wants a workbook. Nobody wants a DVD. But, when you tell them, “You’ve got this horrible problem that I understand better than anyone, and I’ve got the solution to solve it,” you’ll have their attention. Then, you simply go on to tell the reader why it’s going to work. You’re going to have all of this proof that what you have worked for other people, and it’s kind of like calling for witnesses at a trial if you’re a lawyer. I like to use analogies because I think that it helps a lot.
So, you know, here’s the character witness, and here’s the glove that doesn’t fit. It’s like the demonstrations, when you see the guy driving his truck over the flashlight and it doesn’t break. Before and after pictures are often used in this capacity if you’re selling a weight loss product, or a fitness product, or something like that. They’ll show a before and after, and that’s part of the proof. You hear about social proof a lot, but there’s all kinds of other proof. “Here’s why this is important, and here’s why my process is kosher. Just look at all the statistics out there that show that you’re more likely to be shot by a terrorist than to find a mate after the age of 40.” You know, I didn’t make that statistic up, but I call it in as part of the evidence that I am presenting in my case.
You don’t necessarily have to do all of these things in this exact order, but you could do worse than to do them in this order. Watch an infomercial and you’ll see that. Even if you watch television commercials that are 30 seconds long. When you’re doing the brainstorming section of your sales page, and you realize that you don’t have a whole lot in the section, that means you really need to go out and get some more facts and evidence to bolster my case. Where can I go back to my clients to get testimonials? Where can I call in a statistic? Where can I strengthen my guarantee and show why my process works?
Where can I pull in my own story to prove that I’ve been through this myself. A lot of people will create products where they have solved a problem for themselves, and now they are bringing their system or intellectual property out to the world. This is where you might start to talk about your story and how you were in the same place they were, and that’s why you can talk about it now, saying something to the degree of, “I discover this process, and lo and behold, it worked. Then, I tried it with my clients and it worked for them. Now I’m bringing it to you.” That’s part of the “here’s why” section. People are going to start to believe what you’re saying because there is some credibility there.
Step 4 “That’s Right”
You’ve told them that you understand the problem, and you may have made them feel a little horrible, but also hopeful because you may have the solution they’re looking for. At this point, you’ve proven to them that your solution is probably going to work. So, you have now reached Step 4, which is kind of a recap. You’ll essentially say, “That’s right. You’re going to solve this problem that’s been bothering you forever, that you thought was insoluble, and you’re going to have this amazing solution instead. You’re going to get all of this stuff, that I talked about in the previous section and all of these reasons why it’s going to work.”
Now you’re starting to talk a little about components and more about the actual physical stuff they are going to get and how they are going to be delivered. The idea here is that your prospect will be thinking, “Well, how much is this going to cost me. It sounds so great that I’m afraid it’s going to be too expensive.” That’s why you’ll sometimes see the value of each individual item listed out for a total value of a bazillion dollars, but you only have to pay $197, or something like that. I’m exaggerating to make a point, but you’ve seen this on infomercials 100 times over. Usually, in regular advertising, that’s where it starts.
I wrote an ad a long, long time ago. It was a TV commercial that did very, very well. This was way back in the day, before there was liquid dishwashing detergent to put into your dishwasher; there was only powder. So, one of my commercials launched the first liquid that went into dishwashers. In this case, it was like, “Oh no! Your dishwasher powder didn’t dissolve and your dishes aren’t clean. Good news! We have this great new Palmolive automatic dishwasher detergent that’s going to solve that problem. Here’s why it works. It’s a liquid, so it dissolves and doesn’t leave powder all over your dishes. That’s right. You’ll never have this problem again.”
I mean, that’s pretty much how it went, but in the visual people are throwing out their dishes and throwing them against the wall because they were so mad that their dishes weren’t clean. It was the 80’s, so it was a little bit cheesy, but the idea is that this is still the same structure. At this point, in the traditional advertising world, you would stop. If you’re in the infomercial or digital marketing world, you’re going to move on to Step 5, which is “But wait…There’s More!”
Step 5 “But wait…There’s More!”
This is where you would throw in all of the bonuses. It’s where the infomercial will say, “But wait! We’ll double your offer. We’ll give you two of the things you didn’t even know you needed one of five minutes ago. We’re going to give you two of them, just pay more shipping and handling.” Obviously, we are in the digital space, so if you have an info product, you’ll offer bonuses. The best bonuses in this space are things that help people consume the product and/or that add value to the product. It should be something relevant.
A lot of times I will tell my clients that they have given way too much value in their products and that they should take something out of there and make it a bonus. Put it on a little velvet pillow, and now it’s like, “Oh, and now you’ll get my amazing spreadsheet that’s going to help you to keep track of your progress.” Anyway, the point is that you were including that before, but by offering it separately you can make your offer seem even more valuable and irresistible. The best thing is that if it’s a digital download, it doesn’t cost anything to deliver, but it’s super-valuable to your prospect. So, there’s this other extra thing, and sometimes people will buy it just for the bonus.
When I take people who can’t write sales copy through what we just did I ask, “How many people thing they can write their own sales page now?” Pretty much, the whole room raises their hand, whereas in the beginning I’ll ask, “How many people think it’s impossible to write copy,” and pretty much the same people raised their hand. Once you get into the details, you may have to scratch your head a little to find the right words, but you probably don’t have a problem with writing but a problem with clarity. Now that you know what these five things are, as long as you just do:
- “Oh dear!”
- “Good News”
- “Here’s Why”
- “That’s Right”
- “But wait…There’s More!”
Then, you just fill in all of the blanks. You’d have the basis of a pretty good first draft after doing this. In fact, it would be better than most people’s and even better than some copywriters. And, how much more will you feel connected to what you’re selling once you have actually done this?
The “Here’s Why” section is probably where you would put your bullet points. I haven’t gone into all of the features, and benefits, and stuff like that. I’m bringing out a course soon that talks about that. There’s lots of people who talk about features and benefits, but I mean, all of that stuff fits into this process. It’s going to make you feel much more confident about what you’ve got. That’s why so many of my clients raise the price of their products after they do this. They may not have had that kind of confidence before, and they were just hoping that someone else would figure out why this thing was good and how to say it, you know? It’s better if you do it, at least in the first draft.
When you’re actually creating your page, after you’ve basically collected all of this material, if you have enough testimonials a great thing that you can do is dot them around and use them to break up the page visually. Also, you might put a testimonial right after a bullet point when you have a testimonial that illustrates that point. For example, if you said something in a bullet point that let people know your product will increase their income, you can follow that with a testimonial where someone says that they had an increase in sales. This essentially tells the reader, “I’m not just saying this, look what he has to say.”
It’s a luxury to have testimonials that boaster your product’s track record, but even if it doesn’t have that kind or track record yet, there are still ways that you could go about borrowing credibility or get folks to say nice things that will allow your reader to connect the dots and figure out you’re someone they should be listening to. I work with people on that too, because some folks are just getting started, and they are like, “But, I don’t have testimonials.” There are things that you can use instead. They may not be as valuable, so you should always be collecting that kind of proof, anywhere you can find it.
One thing that you can do is use beta testers to try out your products. No one has to know if they paid for it or not. They got results, and that’s what matters. As far as the reader is concerned, it’s none of their business. So, that’s awesome.
Where To Place the Guarantee
I like to put it near the order form, or near where you are going to be asking for the sale. Because, at this point they want to click “Add to Cart,” but maybe they’re scared. People always ask, “What if someone asks for their money back, and they just want to take my product and use it.” You know what? That’s the cost of doing business, and the number of people who are going to be made to feel safe enough to do business with you without knowing you far outweighs the two or three bad apples who are going be thieves. So, I always tell people not to worry about that.
There is a way that you can go about taking a person off of your list if they refund too much. For example, if a person refunds three times, you might take them off of the list and you send them an email that says something like, “We’re obviously not the company for you, so we’ve taken you off of our list. If you do buy something else from us, you will not ever be refunded again.” That’s how you can handle that, but there’s no reason to advertise this. You may have to deal with this once or twice a year, if that. It’s a really tiny percentage of people that you might have to do this with.
I would put it in more than once. I’d put it any place where I thought people would need to be reassured. The guarantee is there to make people comfortable enough to press “Buy Now”. It’s not there because you just really want to give people their money back. Obviously, you will if they ask you to, but the idea is this as a risk reversal. Also, you need to believe in your own stuff to say, “You know what? If you buy this and you use it, you should be really happy, so why wouldn’t I offer you a guarantee?”
I know some people who never offer a guarantee, and that’s their policy. I think that since we are talking about writing sales copy that works, guarantees work. That’s why people put them there. So, most people won’t come back, and if they are legitimate “refunders” like, “I’ve tried it, and it’s not for me,” then I don’t want their money. Neither should you.
Actually, I’ve had to refund a couple of things that really weren’t what I thought they were, and the people were super-cool about refunding it. I went on social media and said, “Oh my God! These people were so awesome. You know, I asked for a refund, and they said ‘no problem’. They just gave it to me.” They probably got more mileage out of me saying how great they were that it was worth way more than the sale would have been to them.
Connecting With Lisa
If you go to LisaRothstein.com/RealFastCopy, I’m going to give you guys a downloadable cheat sheet that will help you fill in the blanks on these sorts of things. This will make it even easier for you, and I use it with my own clients. It’s really fun and easy to fill in, and it’s something that you can keep with you and use it as a place to kind of capture all of your ideas for your next sales page. You can use it over and over again. I really hope that you enjoy that. You can find me on social media too. I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and of course, my website is LisaRothstein.com.
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