The KLT Principle

“Getting to know you, getting to know all about you./ Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.” – Oscar Hammerstein

The KLT principle is an incredibly powerful tool. When you understand it and use it in your marketing copy, buyers simply melt in your hands. When you don’t, it’s nothin’ but slammed doors, unyielding sales resistance, and the trashcan for your sales efforts.

KLT stands for Know, Like, Trust – meaning that people have to know, like, and trust you, your company, and/or your products before they will buy.

Therein lies our challenge as sales and marketing professionals: Given a 30-second commercial, a 95-character Google ad, a 300-word press release, a short- or long-copy direct-mail letter (and a 10-second consumer attention span)… how do we get people who have never met us to know, like, and trust us?

The task is daunting… but not impossible.

Everyone has an internal defense mechanism that attempts to alert them to danger and prevent them from being “had” or “ripped off.” That mechanism is the “KLT Protective Sentinel” – and it stands between you and your buyer.

How do you get past the KLT Sentinel? Better yet, how can you get it on your side, actually working to encourage the consumer to buy from you?

The key lies in understanding what makes a person know, like, and trust someone else. Simply stated, people know, like, and trust THEMSELVES. So, the more you are similar to THEM, the more they will know, like, and trust YOU.

Michael Masterson addresses this concept (although he doesn’t call it the KLT principle) in detail in Section 10 of AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting and then again, in even greater detail, in Sections 1 and 2 of The Masters Program.

According to Michael, it’s a two-step process:

1. Learn everything you can about your typical customer.

And when Michael says “everything,” he means EVERYTHING.

What magazines does he read? What are his hobbies? What products does he buy? Where does he shop? Where does he have his investment funds? Is he married? Does he have children? How old are they? Does he own or rent? What keeps him up at night and fires him up in the morning? What industry does he work in? What jargon does he use? Etc., etc., etc. You need to know. (By the way… deep research is what it takes to answer these questions)

2. Develop a 3-D image of your customer.

Michael says, “Great [direct-mail] copy, ultimately, is an exploration, stimulation, or provocation of the prospect’s greatest and deepest desires, fears, hopes, and dreams.” (And this is true of all types of sales and marketing efforts, not just direct mail.) So once you have all the facts, step back, take a seat in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and begin to picture your customer in your mind. See him sitting in the chair across from you. Look into his eyes and really discover who he is.

By taking these first two steps, you are now in a position to totally and completely relate to your prospect. You know what he knows and likes. You have the power to “speak” to him in a way that he will understand. You can talk about things you have in common and show him that he is more like you than he ever suspected. And you intuitively understand how to subtly, sincerely win his trust and confidence.

Here’s a classic example from Popular Mechanics of how this can be done. The writer of this sales letter knew exactly who he was talking to. And… by choosing the right words… he was able to develop a bond with his prospect from the very first sentence.

“Dear Friend,

“This invitation isn’t for deadbeats, rip-off artists, or ‘gentlemen’ who hate to get their hands dirty.

“It’s for the rest of us.

“It’s for the average guy who works hard for a living (and wants to live better). Who knows the value of a buck (about 50c these days). Who is willing to trade a few drops of sweat for the chance to save big bucks.”

Here’s another good example, this one from a promotion for the Oxford Club:

“Dear Fellow Investor:

“You have been chosen from a select list to receive an invitation into what must be the world’s most remarkable – and profitable – financial alliance.

“It’s an alliance that includes many wealthy investors, financial experts, and extremely successful entrepreneurs …

“By focusing our efforts on creating a legacy of PRIVATE WEALTH for ourselves and our families, we have established a long history of finding extremely safe investments with far higher yields than you are probably getting now.”

Both of these letters effectively make a personal connection with their readers – but they do it very differently because they are addressing two very different audiences.

The Popular Mechanics letter immediately tells its reader that it is not for “deadbeats, rip-off artists, or ‘gentlemen.'” It uses one- and two-syllable words, straightforward language, and vernacular like “guy” and “buck” to put the prospect at ease.

The Oxford Club letter starts by inviting the reader into an exclusive “inner circle” of “wealthy investors, financial experts, and extremely successful entrepreneurs.” The opening paragraphs focus on the high yields and safety the Oxford Club promises – benefits that would clearly appeal to the kind of person it is likely to attract. And the writing is comprised mainly of three- and four-syllable words, long sentences, and sophisticated phrasing.

Even the salutations are different. The Popular Mechanics letter establishes a “friendship” with the prospect, while the Oxford Club letter confirms that the prospect is a serious investor.

Despite their differences, both letters show that the people who wrote them knew their prospects… their prospects’ fears, desires, and dislikes… the way their prospects think of themselves… and the way their prospects speak. And that’s what helped them establish that all-important trust with their potential customers.

Once you have your prospect’s full friendship and trust, the KLT Protective Sentinel not only breaks down his sales resistance, it actually begins encouraging him to take your advice. And it will continue to work on your behalf as long as you maintain that solid relationship.

KLT. It’s a simple formula. Use it, and your sales will soar… and you’ll be flush with repeat business.

[Ed. Note: Joshua Boswell was first introduced to copywriting in April 2005 by AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. He is now well into his second year as a $100,000+ freelance copywriter with clients such as Corel, Sony, Toshiba, Microsoft, Easter Seals, and many others.

The complete Popular Mechanics and Oxford Club letters that Joshua quoted from can be found in AWAI’s book, “Great Selling Ideas for 50 Super-Successful Direct Mail Letters and Direct Response Ads.“]