Do you know KateCourageous? (real name: Kate Swoboda.) She’s smart, and courageous and she just asked me a terrific question. She was lunching with a CEO of a media company, and they got to talking about the sort of formulaic web pages where someone does the format of:
“Are you dealing with XYZ problem? Tired of such and such? Frustrated by blah blah! Then you need ______ ! You are not alone. I’ve helped (thousands) of people solve this problem. [insert testimonial] Sign up for my newsletter and get the 1-2-3 steps to lifelong happiness. Then, if you want, sign up for (bigger offering with a bigger financial investment).”
You know the kind.
Media CEO said that those sales pages personally “make him wince, but that they are really effective and that they work.” Wherein Kate is thinking of “media maven Danielle LaPorte, who has not gone this route and yet has still done well. I see aspects of selling, but she doesn’t have a formulaic page.” Here comes the question:
Told you she’s smart.
There is indeed plenty of how and why data on formulaic sale pages. I’d like to add some non-scientific input. Formulaic sales pages work because people are numbed out. That’s why. And when you’re numbed out, you make stupid choices. In terms of creativity, integrity, and style, formulaic sales pages suck, hard.
They work because we’re deluged by information, because we’re in a trance and need to be yelled at to press “click”, because we don’t trust ourselves. Because we think the answer is “out there” and if it’s only $99 TODAY (the price doubles if you hesitate to buy,) well then, we’ll take it! They work because they’re common and familiar, and therefore, strangely comforting.
Formulaic online sales tactics convert viewers into buyers. No question about it. And this how we end up with a lot of obnoxious sales pages and overpriced e-books–because everyone else is doing it. Which reminds me of what my lawyer buddy used to say when speaking of shysters and followers, (“A billion flies can’t be wrong, shit must taste good.”)
So should you write formulaic BUY THIS…BUY THIS…THIS WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE…NOW! sales pages?
Maybe. Because they work. They’ll make you money.
But you have options….
how to be a (profiting) truth o’mmercial, rather than a slickster
Assume intelligence. Operate on this fundamental principle: people are reachable. And there are still a lot of awake and discerning humans, with credit cards, who need what you’ve got. I believe that my folks/tribe/audience are smart and savvy, and they’d be annoyed if I treated them like autotrons.
Assume that everyone else’s time is as precious as yours. Get to the point, and don’t tease us with click thru’s.
Speak very directly about the benefits. I say, 80% simple language and 20% poetry and flash lingo. Sass and personality are beautiful, but you do need to speak plainly about the benefits of what you’re offering. And the benefits to most people usually get down to: more happiness, more money, or more love (or getting thinner, richer, or laid.)
Be transparent about why you created the product. Of course, this is how you make a living and you want to earn lotsa bucks with it. But tell us the story behind it. When we know your motivation, it’s much easier to trust you.
Test out your product. Focus groups, labs, critical editors, guinea pigs, beta users — work a customer trial period into your launch plan. This is an often-skipped phase in a lot of information products, proof reading is not the same as testing.
Test out your sales copy. Have at least five people give you their reactions.
Give us the details. Table of Contents, sneak peaks with substance, juicy overviews, visuals. Don’t be afraid of giving away so much that people won’t feel the need to buy. Show us under the hood and we’re more likely to want to go for a drive.
Trust people. Trust that they’ll make the right decisions for themselves and buy what they truly need. Selling someone something they don’t need is of no service to them, and it could back fire on you.
Feel good about your guarantees. Money back or no go? Your policies need to feel as fair to you as they do to your customers.
Prove it! Testimonials and endorsements are the single most powerful tool for promoting your goods. Get them. Get lot’s of them. Share them in detail, and share them generously, even repeatedly.
Don’t try to incite fear or panic. Pretty basic, right? Consider this the Hippocratic Oath of conscious marketing. That said:
Do create a sense of excitement and exclusivity — because launching is exciting, and because the people who invest in you do deserve special treatment.
go forth and shine,