We have spent a lot of time focusing on using a speech or presentation to sell a product or service. Let’s back up a little and talk about how to write copy that sells. For instance, how to write an article that sells a product or service. The techniques will help you craft better text on your webpages, emails, presentation slideshows, and social media posts.
Before You Write Ad Copy or Marketing Pieces, You Have to Understand the Reader.
Back in 1994, I was a new graduate from college. My dad had invited me to meet him in Fort Worth for a huge business conference. I was amazed when I walked into the convention center. There were about 10,000 people in the audience, and the agenda was packed with professional speakers. At the time, I had no idea that anyone could make a living speaking for a living. So, this was a whole new world for me.
One of the speakers was Bob Burg, and he had just released his new book (at the time) Endless Referrals. He was mesmerizing. One of the trademark phrases that he said over and over from the stage has become a standard in the business world over the last couple of decades. In fact, if you understand and design your written text and verbal content based on these words, your audience will love you.
“All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” – Bob Burg
Remember that when people see something that you write for the first time or hear you speak for the first time, they don’t know you, they don’t like you, and they certainly don’t trust you. In fact, because of all of the online gimmicks out there, you can assume that you are starting at a significant level of distrust.
Understand that People Are Self-Centered.
For the most part, human beings are self-centered. We are actually wired that way. By the way, don’t be offended by this statement. Let me explain. Sometimes folks will say, “I care more about my relationship with God than myself.” Or “My family is more important.” You can still be self-centered and both statements can still be true.
For instance, I believe that my relationship with God is the most important part of my existence. I am a God, family, country kind of person. However, I love God because he gave me a gift. I believe because I want to go to heaven and not hell.
When we give time or money to a charity, we do so because it makes us feel good to help others. The point is that when we hear a person speak or read text written by the person, we tend to focus on us. We immediately ask ourselves, “How will this information help me?”
If you understand this, you can write words that sell by focusing on what the audience wants. The audience wants to know, “What’s in This for Me?”
The Audience Doesn’t Care About How Great You Are.
Many of us will often fill parts of our written copy with how great we are. Most of the time, this is placed at the very beginning. I fell into the trap years ago. When my company first started growing, we had a number of consultants sending out different proposals. To standardize what was going out to clients, I created a proposal template. Here is what I put in the first paragraph. (I added a natural person’s reaction in parenthesis.)
The Leader’s Institute® is a group of professional speakers and trainers averaging over 15-years of experience in communication, leadership, public speaking, and team building. (Well I would hope so… You are a professional speaking company.) We have conducted training programs for thousands of different companies (Well aren’t you awesome. Want some applause?) and municipalities including many well-recognized names such as CapitalOne, Shell, Halliburton, Coca-Cola, GE, E-Trade, Boeing, the US Defense Department, NASA, the Red Cross, the US Secret Service, the FBI, the DEA, and dozens of other government branches and departments. (If you are so successful, you certainly don’t need to work with me.)
I’m embarrassed that we sent that document out to thousands of potential clients. Eventually, though, we learned to start with what potential customer wants. By the way, you will get plenty of chances to build your credibility and expertise when you speak or write. However, you do that with your case studies or success stories. (We will cover these later.)
The Audience Doesn’t Want to Buy What You Are Selling.
This will shock you. People don’t spend hard-earned money just to buy things. However, they do want the result that spending the money will get them. “But wait, Doug… I love to shop. I love to spend money.” Yes, the process of shopping does cause the brain to release Serotine. As a result, you may actually feel better hen you shop. However, we aren’t really talking about that. We are talking about the items or services themselves.
For instance, I hate to mow the lawn. In addition, I don’t really want to pay someone to mow my lawn for me either. However, I hate to mow the lawn MORE than I want the money that I pay my lawn guy.
I typically trade-in my car every three years or so. Going to a car lot is torture for me, though. So, I usually wait until I absolutely have to. The last time I traded in a car, it was because I had put the car in the shop three times in six months. I didn’t want to buy a new car. What I did want was to stop having to go back and forth to the mechanic.
So instead of thinking about how to sell your product or service to people, think about the problem you solve. If you can help your audience see how their problem will be solved, they are more likely to buy from you.
If You Want to Write Words that Sell, You Have to Solve Problems for Your Reader.
So selling and marketing are never about convincing people to spend money on your product or service. Instead, selling is about identifying a problem that your prospective customer has and showing the person how the fee that they pay you is less painful than continuing to experiencing the problem.
In some situations, the value of the solution is obvious. For instance, if four managers meet quarterly to plan the next quarter, their travel fees will be substantial. If the managers met virtually in a Zoom meeting, the cost of the solution would be way less than the travel.
In other situations, the problem is a little less obvious. Just for example sake, let’s cover a few.
Items or Services Where the Purchase Price is Less than the Value of the Problem.
- Problem: A four-person family has just a single bathroom, and school days are very challenging in the morning.
- Solution: A house with three bathrooms.
It is amazing how many salespeople and marketing directors waste words on price per square foot, curb appeal, and the like. In reality, most people aren’t concerned much with selling their house the day that they buy it. They are, however, concerned with fixing that bathroom line problem!
- Problem: The spinning wheel of death on the computer screen.
- Solution: A computer with a faster processor.
Here is a free tip. There are a number of different generations of computer processors. The processor generation will determine how fast or slow your computer is. This is similar to phone connection speeds. 4G is faster than 3G. If you continually get the spinning wheel of death on your computer, you, most likely have an older processor. A marketing piece or sales rep who explains this will be using words that sell.
- Problem: The risk of being audited by the IRS.
- Solution: Hire an accountant.
Many accountants will tell you about liquidity, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets. Most people will respond with, “So what?” However, if the accountant promotes, “I’ll keep you from getting audited,” the person will respond with, “I don’t care what it costs then.”
To write words that sell a product or service focus on what the audience wants to accomplish!
Write Words that Sell Products or Services.
When you start to write a blog post, email, brochure, presentation slideshow or social media post, ask these questions.
- What Problem is My Viewer Experiencing?
- How Can My Product or Service Solve this Problem?
- Is the Price I’m Asking Less than the Pain of Continuing to Experience the Problem?
The moment that you have clear answers to each of these questions, your marketing pieces will write themselves. Remember that marketing is a type of communication. Your goal is to communicate your solution to the reader clearly and succinctly.
In part two of this series, we will show you how to craft text in your marketing piece. The human brain has a certain way that it likes to receive information. I will give you a hint… Most people will never read every word that you write. So if you want to write words that sell, you have to also make it easy to receive the info