Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

How to write strong sales copy for your website

If you don’t currently have a sales pitch, or you’re trying to improve it, here’s a quick outline of how to put one together for your website.

The first thing I do when writing is start with an outline and I highly recommend it. Use an outline (or mind map) to just jot-down all your ideas and thoughts on the subject. It doesn’t have to make sense or flow smoothly. Not everything in your outline will make the final draft and a few things that weren’t in your outline will get added. From there, here are the steps to creating great copy.

Like catching this Yellowstone National Park geyser in action, finding quality sales copy is rare.

  1. Define your target customer. How old are they? What do they wear? Where do the shop? What do they drive? What motivates them? What do they absolutely love? What do they absolutely hate?
  2. Define what would you like the customer to do once hearing/seeing/reading your pitch. What’s the goal? Enter their email… Purchase a product… Contact you…
  3. Utilize the 4.5 Points of Marketing. Problem, Solution, Why us?, Why now?, Risk-Free
  4. Consider possible responses and questions. Don’t create a FAQ… With a FAQ you can’t control the dialogue. Step the reader through the 4.5 points of marketing while addressing all of their questions as they go along.
  5. Offer third-party testimonials and reference third-party resources. Those testimonials can be written or video. Include them along the side of your page so they’re viewable the whole time. Also, be careful when referencing third-party web pages. Generally you’re better to site the resource without a direct-link because you don’t really want someone leaving your web page to check out the resource and then never come back. However, in some instances it does make sense to provide the link; so use common sense.
  6. Pretend you’re sitting next to someone talking to them. Once you have that vision, take your outline and start writing sentences in the Conversational Marketing style as if you’re talking face-to-face.
  7. Highlight key points for the readers who will just skim. Also use numbered and bulleted lists as well as paragraph breaks, graphics, charts, and pictures to highlight important details that you don’t want the reader to miss.
  8. Test and Measure to determine which copy is most effective. In other words, have multiple landing pages and track your analytics to determine which page is achieving your goal from step 2 most often per visitor.
  9. Sign your letter, postcard, website, or marketing piece. People don’t buy from businesses. They buy from people. If you’re a small business use that personal touch to highlight how you’re different and therefore BETTER than dealing with a large faceless corporation.
  10. Include your most important part in the P.S. Whether you’re creating a newspaper ad, direct-mail postcard, writing an email, or direct-mail letter, studies have shown that people read the headline first; then they read the sub-heading; next they check out the pictures; and finally they read the P.S. or whatever is at the bottom of your ad.

Don’t forget to tell the truth! Which one are you more likely to believe and therefore respond to?

Everything must go!” OR “Our purchasing department made a mistake and ordered too much inventory so we need to clear out some stock.” Just don’t be that furniture company down the road that’s been having the “Going out of business! Must liquidate everything!” sale for the past 3 years. That’s not honest or ethical.

While we’re on the topic of ethics, your marketing should always be honest and up front. Don’t bait-and-switch… Don’t stretch the truth… Don’t tell little fibs that no one will ever notice… In the short term people will notice it and be put off… In the long run it’s toxic. It’s like a cancer lead by the marketing (or sales) department that keeps getting worse but that no one notices until it’s too late. It will eventually catch up with you and ultimately it’s never the most profitable way to run a business of any size.

To your success in writing sales copy, Bryan

P.S. My last 2 blogs were a bit long so I figured I’d shorten this one for you. My next blog on your Marketing Manual might exceed my 1,000 word limit, so consider yourself warned.

How to create the PERFECT website for a Service Business

Make everything about the consumer.

This blog is primarily targeted at service based businesses, however this can certainly work for niche Internet products as well. Once you get to the level of large e-commerce sites the rules for a PERFECT website will be a bit different. Even though quite a few would still apply.

Most importantly, your website needs a goal. The goal can be to sell a product through an immediate online transaction or get the customer to contact you via a web form or phone number. A secondary goal for all websites should be to collect the visitor’s email address to stay in touch and build a relationship. For some websites capturing that email may even be the primary goal.

Your website needs to address the 4.5 Points of Marketing.

  1. Is this your Problem? Did you know this problem also results in these other problems? This isn’t your problem? You’re on the wrong website, then. This can be relatively short and sweet. Don’t assume your customers know exactly what their problem might be.
  2. Here’s the perfect Solution! It will make your life easier, save you money, and make your love life better and here’s why. Most websites sorta start here. They often focus on a product instead of the actual solution (i.e. benefit).
  3. We’re the best company for providing the perfect solution. We’ve been around forever, have a unique business model, are experts at this solution, have a history of top-level support, you can get in touch with us 24 hours per day, and here are a BUNCH of testimonials from happy customers.
  4. Now is the time to ask us to provide the solution to your problem. If you wait any longer your competitors will take more market share, your wife will be frustrated, your kids will rebel, and your dog will pee on the carpet. Do you really want to wait for all that to happen before doing what you already know is the best option?
  5. Make the offer Risk-Free. Look, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain so take a minute and shoot us an email and we’ll get you on track to eternal happiness and bliss. If after talking with us you don’t agree that we can do that for you, no hard feelings.

Your website shouldn’t be more than 2 menus deep. If it’s more then that your customer is working too hard and you can’t lead them where you want them to go.

Your website should be cross-linked. In other words, on every page where you reference a widget, the viewer should be able to click on the word widget and be taken to the full product page.

For further explanation on any of those points, please reference my blog, Internet Marketing for Small Business – Your Website.

So now that you understand the rules of the game, what exactly does a website like that look like? Firstly the content of your website should be written in the vernacular of your target audience. You MUST talk like they talk. As they sit there at their laptop reading your words, in their head it should sound as if they are talking to themselves. I call this Conversational Marketing.

Highlight the important bits for skimmers. Whether it’s bold, underlining, ALL CAPS, or different colors, make the important points jump out.

Include a call-to-action and way for them to contact you on every page.

Capture their email address in exchange for some of your expertise and then build a relationship with an auto-responder email campaign. For instance, if you’re a plumber, you might say, “Input your email for a free report on the top 7 ways to get the best rates from your plumber”. Once they have that you can send them one email every other day for the next 2 weeks explaining why you’re business is the perfect one to solve their problems.

Make it personal. Sign off on every page as if you were writing a personal letter to the person reading. As a small business owner you can do that even though large organizations cannot. Use that to your advantage.

Constantly update your content. In the internet world, inactive=dead. Since I didn’t have time to write a new blog about my business on a regular basis I simply monitored industry news and then would post links to the articles. That links page drove more traffic then any other page on my site besides my landing page.

Utilize videos to engage your visitors. Whether from testimonials or your sales pitch, adding videos and text allows your readers to choose their preferred method of communication.

Provide great content and too many details. When people see a TV commercial or a magazine ad about a product that interests them what do they do next? They visit the company’s website. Why do they do that instead of just calling or going to the business? Because they want more information… So give it to them. In person you, of course, can ramble on and say too much… On a website, however, you cannot. Give the features, benefits, specs, warranties, side-by-side comparison with competitors and anything else they might ask. Of course no one is going to read all of it. You just need it there because each person is going to read some of it and, quite frankly, you don’t know which part they’re going to read.

So if you put all of this together what do you get? Here are a few examples from some top internet marketers:

Bullseye Marketing – This business is selling a service that requires a custom quote so their goal is to get you to contact them. Notice how they start with the problem and then engage you by making you click Next to get to the solution. Granted, their interface can use some improvement.

Perry Marshall’s Personal Coaching – I’ve been following Perry’s stuff for years and he’s one of the top guys out there at turning visitors to money.

Eating for Energy – Good example of a website with the goal of simply getting your email address and nothing else.

Front Sight Offer – I highly recommend signing up for his Free Gun reports via email just to get an idea of what building a relationship via an auto-pilot is all about. Even if you don’t want anything to do with a firearm, you can learn a lot from his email marketing. Just keep in mind he is talking to “gun nuts.”

Target Focus Training – This site does a great job of hitting the 4.5 points of marketing. Notice how they start with the problem? Did you know the problem was that bad?

Wait a second… I’ve never even heard of any of those companies, how do you know they have good websites? Because they can make money and sell a service without ever talking with or interacting directly with a single customer (with the exception of Bullseye Marketing since their web page is just about selling the appointment). Can you say that about your service business?

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re a huge international organization with $10-$100 million to spend on your web presence with the goal of increased “branding”, then copy from the mainstream websites of Fortune 500 companies. If instead you’re a small business who needs to market your business online to generate immediate and measurable income,if you follow even half of these suggestions you’ll be way ahead of your competition.

If you disagree, leave some feedback and we’ll hash it out.

Keep in mind that in the grand scheme of marketing, your website is the end game. It’s a lead-generator. You can only gauge it’s success if it matches your entire marketing plan. Everything from your Vision as a company, the USP for this revenue stream, target market, branding and positioning goal, budget, ROI, method of testing and measurement must all be established so when your website is finished, you’ll know if it is working or not. In other words, it needs to fit properly into your Marketing Manual.

To your website creation success, Bryan

How to sell to the internet generation…

The generation of consumers who purchase a considerable amount online or who at least research everything online before buying is growing. Supposedly over 50% of Americans research online before making a household purchase. Approximately 100% of my friends do. Obviously these types of purchasers are only going to increase. Yet it seems many brick-and-mortar businesses, like my own, have trouble both understanding and selling to this new wave of consumer. Here are a few lessons you need to keep in mind when designing your website or responding to email inquiries from the internet generation.

The traits of internet consumers:

  1. Prefer to negotiate via email
  2. Always looking for a great deal
  3. Will wait patiently for the right deal
  4. Consider ourselves to be well-informed
  5. Expect a Guarantee
  6. Have little problem purchasing something site unseen (and can even prefer it)
  7. Require Testimonials

And now the nitty-gritty details of each trait…

1. Prefer to negotiate via email – There are a few reasons for this. We don’t want to be “pressured” by a slick-talking salesman. We like to take the time to reflect on the emails we receive to do additional research on competitors, pricing, specifications etc. before replying.  Sometimes we just don’t like the human interaction. We work best at 1:30am when your office is closed.

2. Always looking for a great deal – A quick example of this is my method of purchasing anything that takes batteries or requires a plug. For me, 90% of those things I purchase online. Once I determine the exact product I want (after exhaustive research) I check prices with Tigerdirect.com, Newegg.com, Buy.com, and Froogle.com. If a vendor shows up on Buy.com or Froogle.com who I’m not familiar with, I check it out on ResellerRatings.com. After all, the lowest price doesn’t really help me if it’s a shady business and never actually send me anything. This whole process takes me less than 10 minutes, usually less than 5. Moreover, I’m on mailing lists from the first 3 so that when a super special comes up, I know about it right away. 🙂 We internet shoppers are trained to get the best price, for the best product, along with the best service EVERY time.

3. Will wait patiently for the right deal – There are numerous examples of when I’ve done this, however just last week I made a purchase of an item I’ve been watching since January 30th, 2006. That’s correct, I waited 2 years and 9 months before pulling the trigger. Was it because the product improved or because I suddenly came into a bunch of cash that was burning through my wallet? No. I was just waiting for a GREAT deal. After 2 years of waiting for that deal and trying to negotiate one out of them I was starting to think it wasn’t coming…  Then low and behold they send me an email saying if you buy a sonos bundle in the next 3 days, they’ll throw in free speakers (about a $180 value). Yes! I jumped on it and swear that my sonos is the coolest thing ever. Even better then my $320 sunglasses… Which I only paid $160 for… But we don’t need to get into that. Keep in mind, the right deal does not necessarily mean we’re cheap. Check out Sonos.com and you’ll quickly learn that to replace my “antiquated” wireless music system that I paid $80 for 2 years ago with a Sonos (that essentially did the same thing but with a whole lot more features) I forked over $1300. (But I got $180 worth of speakers for free! What a great deal!)

4. Consider themselves to be well-informed – Whether they actually are an expert in car maintenance, replacing a roof, or accounting, they’ll think, because they read a few blogs, that they are. So don’t ignore that. Ask them questions about what they want, need, have researched, and are looking for to fish out exactly what they know so you don’t offend them by telling them something they think is brilliant is not. If you do make the mistake of inadvertantly calling something we read online stupid, we won’t call you on it, we’ll just assume you’re an idiot and should spend some more time learning about your trade. Be prepared to answer tough or even outlandish questions.

5. Expect a Guarantee – Let’s be honest here, we internet consumers are a very trusting bunch. WIthout seeing your office, you, or even your product we’ll fork over some money for the item we’re looking for. However, don’t mistake that for stupidity. The BEST internet marketers always offer a guarantee. Some of them are price match guarantees. Some are 30, 60, or 90 day trial guarantees. Some are 110% satisfaction guarantees. The list goes on and on and the type of guarantees they offer are much different than the ones we in the brick-and-mortar world are used to… I’ll write another blog focussing solely on creating a great guarantee to clarify this point further.

6. Have little problem buying something sight unseen – and often prefer it that way. Reference point 1 regarding email negotiations. We’re smart, informed, know where to get the best price, read all the online reviews of your business, and like your guarantee. Why do we need to talk to someone? This is where your website needs to fully understand the mind of the Internet Generation. If you’re selling a service or product that requires an onsite evaluation, inspection, analysis, etc. your website needs to sell that appointment! It should not be trying to sell your product because we can find that product (whether it’s exactly what’s needed for our situation or not) 100 different places online. By you requiring and selling the appointment you’re differentiating yourself from everyone else who says just give us money for this one-size-fits-all item.

7. Require Testimonials – We will NOT buy something online without reading and reviewing several testimonials or objective reviews of your business and your product. We’ve been sold by radio, TV, internet, billboards, direct mail, telemarketers and who knows what else our whole lives. We don’t buy that “Trust us we have a great product” crap. Unless several credible sources post positive reviews about a product or service we’re moving on to the next thing. Check out Amazon.com, Cars.com, Cnet.com, Newegg.com, Ebay.com etc. etc. etc. All major online retailers offer customers the ability to review products they’ve purchased to help prospective customers make the best decision. We’ve been trained to only buy things with great reviews so if your website doesn’t have any objective reviews or testimonials then forget it.

In summary, we are not the same type of consumer most businesses are accustomed to. Our requirements are different and expectations are higher. You (and your website) can decide to ignore our nuances… Or you can address them before your competitors and open up your business to a huge, constantly-growing market.

To your success, Bryan