Dear Business Builder,
Have you ever wished you could introduce the chubby chick with flawless skin on that infomercial for the miracle wrinkle cream … to that crumpled old dude hawking his fitness DVDs on the next channel?
I really think they’d be good for each other …
How about that slicked-haired, pencil-thin-mustached guy who sells those supplements that make you poop like a racehorse? Mightn’t his whole family be happier if he invested in a few of David Oreck’s air sanitizers?
… And have you ever wondered what would happen if one of the bald guys in those ads selling bad toupees … ever got lucky with a flat-chested gal from the infomercial that sells falsies?
If they hit it off, would they jump into the sack together? Or would each just curl up on the nightstand where their opposite number left his or her physical charms?
What – you’ve never thought about this stuff?
No? Oh. Uh, me neither. That would be weird!
Guess I’ve been watching too many of those wall-to-wall infomercials on early morning TV lately.
But it’s 3:30 AM and I’m up and at my desk, so maybe I should do something productive. Like write an article about something. Maybe, oh … I don’t know … make a startling confession or something.
I’ve got it – how about this …
HAVE I EVER MENTIONED I HAVE SUPER POWERS?
It’s true. I only look like a mild-mannered Clark Kent. In truth, I have more in common with his alter-ego: Superman.
I know: You’re astonished right? You’d never have guessed, to look at me.
But the truth is, just like Superman, I have four super powers.
Not the exact same four super powers he has, mind you …
I’m not indestructible. I don’t have unlimited strength for lifting stuff, bending stuff or running. Nor do I have super sensory perception (although x-ray vision would probably make girl watching A LOT more fun!).
I CAN fly – but only after strapping my butt onto something with a propeller, an engine and wings – a Cessna or Piper for instance. I learned at age six that a hop, skip, a jump and a hearty “Up, up and AWAY!” … pretty much guarantees a painful belly flop is in your future.
So although my four super powers don’t make me more powerful than a locomotive … or faster than a speeding bullet … or able to leap tall buildings with a single bound … they do help give me the power to …
1. Convince busy people to keep reading my l-o-n-g sales copy – even when they really should be doing something else …
2. Trigger powerful, visceral, actionable emotions in my prospects without necessarily resorting to emotionally charged words or hyperbole or the excessive use of slammers (exclamation points), and …
3. Magically transform my prospect’s left-brain purchase decision into an irresistible right-brain buying urge …
… all without my prospect having a single clue why he read all that sales copy … or suddenly feels he can’t live without my product … or feels like his head will probably explode if he doesn’t order IMMEDIATELY.
Pretty cool, huh?
Oh – and get this: I can do something else Superman could never do: I can transfer my super powers to anyone I want.
You, for instance.
So whaddaya say? Want some super powers, too?
OK – since you asked nice, here you go …
SUPER POWER #1: THE POWER OF THREE
Athos, Porthos and Aramis.
Lift, Drag and Gravity.
Piano, Bass and Drums.
Tinkers to Evers to Chance.
Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
Earth, Wind and Fire.
There’s something about listing things in groups of threes; something that connects with us on the most visceral of levels.
Maybe it’s because three represents the basic units of matter: The proton, neutron and electron …
Or the three states of time: The past, present and the future …
Or our most basic human needs: Air, water and food …
Or the basic family unit: Father, Mother and Child …
Or the three phases of life: Youth, Maturity and Old Age …
Or, maybe it’s because many of us were raised in Sunday School, where we first met The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost …
… But if you list two of anything, it feels unfinished, somehow.
And if you list four of anything; there’s no rhythm.
But three has – I don’t know – the feeling of completion. And all the elegance of a waltz, counted in ¾ time.
See if this passage (the intro for a promo I recently wrote for a financial client) doesn’t get your toe a-tapping …
I begged …
I pleaded …
I cajoled …
I did everything I could think of to show you how joining my X Trading Service could give you the opportunity to dramatically leverage the profits you can reap from ETFs.
I even told you that your first trade or two would probably hand you many times the money your membership cost you.
That was 56 days ago. And just as we said, my X Trading Service members have been given one opportunity after another to make money hand over fist:
>>Our options on the China 25 Index ETF delivered a closed-out gain of up to 238% in just 56 days …
>>Our options on the Brazil ETF delivered a closed-out gain of as much as 100% – also in just 56 days …
>>And overall, our AVERAGE gain on every open and closed trade recommended by my X Trading Service is a whopping 126.4%
Two lists of three items each in the first half-page of sales copy. And trust me – there were plenty of other “lists of three” throughout the promo.
Why? Because three creates momentum and rhythm like no other number can.
Try this: Grab your swipe file and count how many triplets like these you count throughout.
Start with The Legendary Gary Bencivenga’s Lies, Lies, Lies package if you like: Whether by instinct or design, the world’s most successful copywriters use lists of three to get their prospects in synch with them.
Then, notice how you feel when you see lists of two. They feel truncated; incomplete, anticlimactic, don’t they? And notice that lists of four or more lack that fascinatin’ rhythm.
This is no small thing. Because as your prospect feels his way through your sales copy, momentum and rhythm help keep him reading. That means more people read through to your response device. And that means more moolah for you!
SUPER POWER #2: THE POWER OF SEVEN
The number seven has a different kind of power. It doesn’t create rhythm or momentum.
But there’s little doubt that seven resonates with us in powerful ways. There are seven days in a week. After apparently wearing himself to a frazzle creating everything there is, God is said to have chilled on the seventh day.
Ask 100 people to pick a number between one and ten – and 70% of them will pick the number seven. Ask those same 100 people to name a LUCKY number, and nearly 100% will say, “seven.”
Heck: A short time ago, millions of couples all over the world made it a point to get married on 7/7/07 – just for good luck’s sake!
Here in the U.S., telephone numbers contain seven digits because seven is the maximum number of numbers the brain can quickly memorize.
Seven is cool. It also feels a bit random – not an even number; not symmetrical – so it doesn’t feel contrived.
If I offered to give you precisely eight reasons why you should buy my product, you’d probably think things were just a bit too neatly packaged. But if I give you seven reasons, ahh … now, we’re getting somewhere!
Somehow too, lists of seven are not too long; not too short; just right.
I learned this eons ago, writing fascinations for soft-offer book promos. I’d spend weeks mining each book for fascinations and writing hundreds and hundreds of ’em for a 24-page tabloid. And after awhile, that endless list of fascinations became just as intimidating and impenetrable to readers as a huge block of solid copy would have been.
It was only after I learned to organize my fascinations into groups of seven … and write a subhead and one-paragraph intro for each list … and then change up how I organized my fascinations on each new list of seven … that my sales copy took on new life.
Seven also has amazing power even if it’s not the first number in a string of numbers – mostly because it feels random.
If I told you my price was $29.99, you’d automatically assume I’m using the old retailer’s dodge on you – setting my price at just under $30 to make it seem low but still wringing every last penny I can out of you.
But if my price is $27.77 … or $27.97 … or even $29.77 – you might think, “Wow. This guy really sharpened his pencil to give me the best deal he could!”
Likewise; if I tell you a premium reveals 30 ways to double your money, you’d be suspicious at the roundness of the number. But if I offer you 7, or 17 or 27 ways, it feels more like a real number: Like that must be all the ways there are and I’m giving you every blessed one of them.
So as long as you have your swipe file open anyway, try this: See how many times the copywriters who wrote those promotions used the number seven: In headlines … in lists … in premium titles … and in prices.
Think it happens by accident? Think again! Those sevens are there because they work!
SUPER POWER #3: THE POWER OF SEQUENCING
One of the first questions copy cubs have when I hand out assignments is, “How long should this be?” Then, stinging from my caustic, “As long as it needs to be!” answer, their next question – whether spoken or unspoken – is invariably, “Where do I begin?”
Oh, buh-ROTHER. “AT THE BEGINNING, OF COURSE!”
See, I don’t want to get too technical here, but – in this universe at least – we experience time as a continuum. One second, minute and hour – and every day, week, month and year – follows another in a predictable, linear pattern.
So that’s how our minds have learned to work: In a predictable, linear pattern.
Now, while it is true that string theorists and quantum physicists suggest there are at least ten other dimensions and an infinite number of universes – the post office doesn’t deliver to any of them yet.
And although I’ve seen some evidence to the contrary in chat rooms and message boards, the World Wide Web is still pretty much confined to this world. (That’s probably a good thing, as attempting to process credit cards from other universes would likely raise an eyebrow or two down at my bank.)
It follows, then, that since we only care about selling stuff to folks who live in this dimension and this universe – and since all of them experience time in a linear way – having your sales copy follow a linear pattern makes sense.
So, try this: Start by establishing common ground with your prospect – with a mutually agreed-upon fact. Then add a surprising new fact that he may or may not know. Make it bullet-proof believable using data, a study, or a quote from a trusted source – or failing that, faultless logic.
Then help your prospect take the next baby step with you – once again, with a new fact or proposition that brings him one step closer to speed-dialing your order hotline.
Never jump ahead. Never recover ground you’ve already been over. Build your promotion like you’d build a brick wall – one indisputable fact upon another – until there’s only one, inescapable conclusion: He’d be certifiably insane NOT to order NOW.
SUPER POWER #4: THE POWER OF INTENSIFICATION
At its best, the art of selling is the art of seduction.
Or, if you prefer, frog-boiling.
If you begin by showing your quarry a picture of the outcome you have in mind, you will only cause the subject of the exercise to flee.
Instead, the wise man will turn up the heat gradually – so as not to alarm the object of his affection, or in the case of frog-boiling; the frog. Do it skillfully and before they know what hit them, your subject will either be basking in the afterglow of love – or in froggie heaven.
Likewise in copywriting, screaming the ultimate benefit of the product you’re hoping to sell is likely to cause prospects to stampede away from you. Because everyone else is screaming at them. Because they don’t trust people who scream at them. Because they’re not ready to go from “Hi, how’re you doing?” – to showing you their credit card in one, huge leap.
So the masterful copywriter allows his enthusiasm – and the tone of his copy – to intensify only as his prospect’s excitement rises.
That’s one use for the power of intensity. There are many others.
Like when you crank up the heat by first presenting your regular price … then the standard discount … then the “if you buy now” discount … and then throw in one bonus gift after another – also for buying right now, today … and then trivialize your final price by comparing it to a larger amount they pay for a far less helpful item.
Here’s another: The presentation of a track record in the promotion of an investment service.
Let’s say our investment newsletter product has recommended three trades in the last couple of months – all profitable. Plenty of copywriters would want to lead with the most profitable one. Right?
But think: Where does that leave you?
It leaves you telling your prospect about the less profitable trades next – right?
And how would that leave your prospect feeling?
Like the other trades are anticlimactic – right?
So what do you do? Simple: Try leading with your least profitable trade.
Feel your way through this copy, for example…
If you had bought investment “X” on June 15 and closed your position on July 12, you could have grabbed a 333% gain in just 27 days: Enough to turn a $2,000 investment into $8,666!
Or, you could have purchased investment “Y” on June 8 and closed your position 35 days later – on July 13 – for a 700% gain, and turned $2,000 into $16,000!
And you could have bought investment “Z” on June 15 and sold on July 12. That position jumped 1,008% in value – enough to turn your $2,000 molehill of money into a whopping $22,166 in just 35 days!
See how the intensity of the sales copy – and the benefit to your reader – IMPROVES with each succeeding paragraph?
Think maybe you could apply the same principal for any product? Can you see how presenting a testimonial with baseline (but still exciting) results … followed by a better result and then one that’s better still … would crank up the energy level of your copy – and help turn the purchase decision into an irresistible urge?
I hope this helps you get those bigger winners, more often.