Entries from July 2009 ↓

Hey! D’you Want to Learn The Golden Rule of Online Marketing?

As you’ve probably guessed by now I am a great fan of Copyblogger. This is a post I came across on the site a short while ago which proved to be very relevant.

Blogging is a huge thing for me and my business and often when I try to extol its virtues I’m met with the usual response – ‘I wouldn’t know what to write about’.

As Brian Clark explains below you have to think about what buyers of your product are interested in and then write about that. By linking your posts back to your main sales site, you will be generating a supply of targeted traffic to your website which should equate to more sales.

Anyway, that’s enought from me. Brian, take it away…

The Golden Rule of Online Marketing

You’re familiar with the Golden Rule, right?

Roughly translated across cultures, it boils down to:

Treat Others as You Wish to Be Treated.

Those are words to live by, even online. But the truth is, when it comes to online marketing, you’ve got to treat people better than you wish to be treated.

So the Golden Rule of Online Marketing is:

Give Something Valuable Away in Order to Sell Something Related.

Simple enough, but what does it really mean?

The Media is the Marketing

After giving it a lot of thought, I’m afraid the phrase “social media marketing” is a tragic mistake. It gives people the wrong idea.

Some people see social media as an opportunity to shove a business card in your hand with nary a “hello” first. It’s like getting bent over at a Tupperware party without a hint of verbal foreplay.

Such a waste.

The amazing thing about social media is the ability to own true media assets. To reach niche audiences on your own terms, for your own ultimate benefit.

As long as you provide the audience a benefit first, that is.

In traditional media, content producers give people something they want in the form of entertainment or information. Then they sell access to those people to advertisers who want to sell something to those people.

In social media, smart content producers understand that they play both roles. They provide people something they want and sell something… but in this case, what they sell is something extremely relevant to the content, and therefore, to the audience.

Being a new media content producer naturally creates awareness for your products or services. That’s what marketing is supposed to do, and that’s how it’s done effectively online.

An Example: How Daniel Can Sell More Art

Daniel Edlen sells really cool portraits of rock stars hand-painted in white acrylic on an actual vinyl recording from that artist. I got to know Daniel on Twitter, and now own renditions of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain portrayed on classic albums from each.

Along the way, Daniel asked me how he could sell more of his stuff.

I get this question a lot.

Daniel has an interesting marketing problem. He creates unique stuff (like he’s supposed to), but suffers from this one simple fact:

No one knows they want his stuff until they do.

No one likely searches for rock stars painted on vinyl. I certainly didn’t.

He needs an effective media vehicle to drive his sales to a whole new level. One where he converts a large number of followers into a smaller but vibrant group of customers who begin to market for him.

So the Golden Rule of Online Marketing is especially pertinent here. What can Daniel give away that has value and also stimulates desire for his art?

Daniel blogs, and I personally like reading his stuff. But it won’t work the way he wants.

Here’s what I’d do.

What do people who buy this type of art really want? What drives the desire to hang this art on one’s wall?

I’d say it’s mostly nostalgia and identification. An opportunity to gaze upon a vivid memory from the past, and to place yourself within the sphere of that sensation.

So what kind of content puts that person in the mood?

Rock trivia.

I know it sounds simple, and that’s a good thing. People want what they want, and our desire as marketers for complex answers is an insecurity, not a virtue.

Rock trivia is something huge amounts of people will opt-in to receive daily. There’s a demonstrated desire for this type of content, so you’re not forcing anything.

You now have their attention, which is critical, but there’s a lot more to it.

Facts and little-known details about rock stars and the lives they lead put people in a certain mood. If nostalgia and identification are what you’re really selling (as Daniel is), then you’ve got to put a bunch of people in the mood within one click of your solution.

This is how Daniel could sell a lot more art. It may not be the only way, but I’m betting this way works.

What Are You Really Selling?

The day you make a breakthrough is the day you understand what you’re really selling. What’s the ultimate benefit people get from you?

When you understand that, you can make media that works as marketing. Without it, you’re likely just pissing people off.

And please… until you get it, stay away from me at Tupperware parties. Yikes.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of DIY Themes, creator of the innovative Thesis Theme for WordPress. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

Copywriting for Empty Shelves

Wouldn’t it be great if your sales copy encouraged so many sales your products flew off your shelves.

Well for high volume sales you must build a relationship of trust between you and the buyer. If they read your copy and instantly connect with you, you have a greater chance of separating them from their cash.

A sense of urgency and trust are the 2 keys to creating copy that will open wallets. To give you an idea of how this can work, below are 8 techniques you can employ to empty your shelves quickly.

  1. Order deadlines – if they order by a certain date they will get a discount – this creates urgency.
  1. Money back guarantee – builds trust.
  2. Free on-site repair services – builds trust.
  3. Include qualified testimonials (i.e. with full names) – builds trust.
  4. Offer affiliate programme so your clients can make money. If you make this a time limited offer it can create urgency.
  5. 24 hour assistance – whether by phone or email this will build trust.
  6. Free shipping (if you can afford it)
  7. BOGOF (buy one get one free) – builds trust and urgency if a time limited offer.

Whether you use one or a combination of several of the above techniques, the overall effect will be the creating of sales copy that will build trust between you and your prospective client.

Then the only thing you have to worry about is to make sure you have enough stock to keep up demand.

Your Sales Letter & The USP

A great sales letter can stand between you and a small fortune. By getting the content, tone and sales pitch right you could open up a whole new world of customers. But writing the perfect sales letter isn’t easy.

In my post Copywriting – The Sales Letter I talked about the mechanics of the sales letter and its 3 main components – the headline, the offer and the call to action,

These elements are vital but there is something missing – your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). I came across this post recently written by Jonathan Young of Decodefy: What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition? Have a read, perhaps it will help identify your products USP’s and in turn strengthen your sales letter.

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Also known as the unique selling position or unique sales position, the USP is often one of the most misunderstood elements of a good sales letter. It’s what separates your product or service from your competitors. Let’s take a quick look at some unique selling propositions for a product itself:

Lowest Price

If you’ve got the corner marketed on budget prices, flaunt it. Tesco has made this USP famous lately, but it’s not new to them. In fact, selling for cheaper has been around as long as capitalism itself. Personally, I’m not crazy about price wars, because someone can always come along and sell for cheaper. Then it’s time for a new strategy…

Superior Quality

If it outperforms your competitor’s product or is made with higher quality materials, it’s a good bet that you could use this fact to your advantage. For example, compare Ben & Jerry’s to their competitor’s. From the packaging to the wholesome superior ingredients, the quality is evident. It may cost a little more than their competitor’s ice cream, but for their market, it sells.

Superior Service

If you offer superior service over your competitor’s, people will buy from you instead. This is especially true with certain markets that are all about service: long-distance, Internet service providers, satellite television, etc.

Exclusive Rights

My favorite! If you can legitimately claim that your product is protected by a patent or copyright, licensing agreement, etc., then you have a winner for exclusive rights. If you have a patent, even the Queen must buy it from you.

Ok, what if your product or service is no different than your competitor’s? I would disagree, because there are always differences. The trick is to turn them into a positive advantage for you. You want to put your “best foot forward.” So what can we do in this scenario?

One way is to present something that your company has devised internally that no other company does. Look, there’s a reason why computer store “A” offers to beat their competitor’s price for the same product by X%. If you look closely, the two packages are never exactly the same.

Company “B” offers a free scanner, while company “A” offers a free printer. Or some other difference. They are comparing apples to oranges. So unless you find a company with the exact same package (you won’t…they’ve seen to that), you won’t be able to cash in.

But what if you truly have the same product for sale as the guy up the road?

Unless your prospect knows the inner workings of both your and your competitor’s product, including the manufacturing process, customer service, and everything in-between, then you have a little potential creative licensing here. But you must be truthful.

For example, if I tell my readers that my product is bathed in steam to ensure purity and cleanliness (like the cans and bottles in most beer manufacturing processes), it doesn’t matter that Joe’s Beer up the road does the same thing. That fact that Joe doesn’t advertise this fact makes it a USP in your prospect’s eyes.

Want some more USP examples?

  • We are the only car repair shop that will buy your car if you are not 100 percent satisfied with our work.
  • Delivered in 30 minutes or it’s on us!
  • No other furniture company will pay for your shipping.
  • Our recipe is so secret, only three people in the world know it!

As with most ways to boost copy response, research is the key with your USP. Sometimes your USP is obvious, for example if you have a patent. Other times you must do a little legwork to discover it (or shape it to your target market).

Here’s where a little persistence and in-person selling really pays off. Let me give you an example to illustrate what I mean:

Suppose your company sells beanbag chairs for kids. So you, being the wise marketer that you are, decide to sell these beanbags in person to prospects before writing your copy. After completing twenty different pitches for your product, you discover that 75 percent of those you visited asked if the chair would eventually leak.

Since the chairs are for kids, it’s only logical that parents would be concerned about their youngster jumping on it, rolling on it, and doing all things possible to break the seam and “spill the beans.”

So when you write your copy, you make sure you address that issue: “You can rest assure that our super-strong beanbag chairs are triple-stitched for guaranteed leak-proof performance. No other company will make this guarantee about their beanbag chairs!”

Now, get to work and start creating your, soon-to-be, world famous USP.

Want Free Publicity? Press Release It!

Press releases are something I touched on in an earlier post Is Your Press Release Newsworthy?

They are one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business. Online press release sites provide an excellent opportunity to get your company’s news out into cyberspace. So why do so many entrepreneurs ignore this type of promotion?

Quite simply, because they don’t know how to write a press release but trust me, it is well worth learning. It’s important to promote your online business with press releases because of the media all over the internet. There is a vast amount of advice and information available on the web showing you how to write a press release, but below are some common press release writing tips:

  • Your press release must sound like news not an advert
  • Only send your press release to the media related to the topic of your release
  • Keep it to one page in length
  • Make sure your header, contact information and release date are at the top of your press release
  • Use short, simple sentences
  • Grab your reader’s attention with the header and first few sentences
  • Tell a story briefly mentioning your business/product/service in the body of the press release
  • Proofread it many times to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors

Of course, there is another reason why entrepreneurs don’t use this method of promotion. Because they don’t know what’s newsworthy. Well, here are a few suggestions of what is considered news – I think you’ll be surprised and you’ll probably find something that relates to your business right now.

  • New products/services you’re offering on your website
  • Results of an online survey you’ve completed
  • A virtual trade show or seminar you’re hosting
  • A free chat room class that you’re running
  • The launch of a new website
  • An online award your business/web site has won
  • A free e-mail newsletter you’re launching
  • A free trial/service/product that you’re giving away
  • An online business club you’re starting
  • An endorsement from a famous person you have received
  • A major joint venture you’re starting with another business
  • The launch of a new eBook you’ve written
  • A fundraising event you are doing

The list is endless but I hope the above has given you an idea of what counts as news. Do you have something that fits the bill? If so, write a press release and get it out there and start driving some traffic to your website.

7 Basics to Make Your Website Readable

website [Compatibility Mode]

Frequently I am asked by people to give them an analysis of their website copywriting. Again and again I see the same mistakes so I thought I’d write this post about it to help you review your own site.

Believe it or not, the appearance of your website text can actually have an impact on your sales. Its readability can affect your reader’s buying decision. Many companies place more importance on the design of their site than the words it contains – big mistake! It is the words that will sell not the graphics.

To give you a helping hand I have listed below 7 basics to make your website readable:

  1. Easy to read

This covers everything from simple words and sentences to the colour scheme. Use a light coloured text on a light background and your copy will be unreadable; the same goes for using a bright coloured font on a dark background.

  1. Attention grabbing

If you want to get their attention, use headlines. Make sure you work your keywords into the headings too. Break up your text with plenty of sub-headings. Not only will it make it more attractive on the screen (a huge block of text is a major turn-off) but they will also act as sign-posts so your reader can find the information that’s relevant to them.

  1. Highlight your keywords

Emphasize words that are important to your reader by making them bold, italics or a different colour. Things like free, fast, free delivery and your key selling points.

  1. Font size

Don’t use text that is either too small or too big. Save the larger text for your headings and sub-headings.

  1. CAPS are bad

If you use all capital letters in your copy you’ll come across as unprofessional plus it’s very hard to read.

  1. Spacing

A well spaced page of text is a readable page of text. Use plenty of white space, headings and sub-headings to signpost the important sections. Show your benefits as a bulleted list so they stand out. Whatever spacing format you use, make sure it’s consistent throughout your site.

  1. Check and re-check

Breaking grammar rules can be very effective in sales writing, but sloppy spelling and punctuation isn’t. Mind you that’s not to say that your grammar can be sloppy – it should always be used correctly unless you are trying to get a point across. There is nothing worse than a website full of typos – it’s very unprofessional.

This list is by no mean exhaustive and I could go on for hours about. Take time out to review your website. It is your company’s online shop window. Review every section of text from its appearance to its factual content – is there too much detail or too little, are there any call to actions?

Your website shouldn’t be viewed as an optional extra in your marketing campaign. You don’t have one just because it’s nice to have or because everyone else has one. Your website is there to sell – use it.