The single most effective way to make more sales, to more customers, more often is with persuasive sales copy. But for most people, this doesn’t come naturally.
Robert, age 76, sent me this email: “I’ve been struggling to make some extra money online with my knife-sharpening videos. I thank God he led me to your blog. I read your post about the copy formula, tried it out, and made enough money to pay my bills this month.”
Even though most of my copywriting clients deal in 7-figure sales volumes, that email remains one of my favorites of all time. What worked for Robert will work for you, too.
But you have to create copy that isn’t “salesy.”
First you must define what are you selling. How does it benefit the customer? Then, distill this “big idea” down to a single, clear, sentence. Clarifying and articulating your “big idea,” or Copy Thesis™, is a crucial step.
By definition, a thesis is “a proposition to be discussed and proved, or maintained against objections.”
Nailing that sentence may be hard work, and it may take time, but in the end it should always look similar to this:
Any [YOUR AUDIENCE] can [SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM] by using [YOUR PRODUCT], because [HOW IT SOLVES THE PROBLEM].
- Any OBESE PERSON can BECOME LEAN AND FIT by following THE “FREE-FROM-FAT-FOREVER DIET,” because it USES YOUR BODY’S BUILT-IN FAT-BURNING FURNACE.
Work on your Copy Thesis until you have a rock-solid “big idea” expressed in a short, crystal-clear sentence. Then use the following framework to structure your sales message.
To Sell More, P.A.S.T.O.R. Your Customers
Most people associate the term “pastor” with the preacher at church. But the original meaning of the word pastor was actually “to shepherd.” The shepherd cares for, feeds, and protects the flock.
You must adopt the same protective role as you write copy for your prospects and customers.
P.A.S.T.O.R. is an acronym that helps you plan the major sections of your copy.
“P” is for Person, Problem, and Pain.
Begin by identifying the person you are trying to reach with your message, understanding the problem that you are solving for them, and the pain that problem causes.
If you are writing about fitness and weight loss, you might begin by describing their current situation this way: You’ve tried every fad diet that’s come along. You’ve started and stopped a dozen different exercise programs, perhaps joined several different gyms, but the truth is you just can’t seem to take the weight off (or keep it off.)
Remember, you’re not judging their behavior, but rather describing their experience as it currently is. This means you have to understand their current experience. You have to know your audience and what they are thinking.
You must speak to the person, expose the problem you are helping solve, and make a clear connection to the pain the problem causes. Person, problem, pain.
Next, we need to turn up the volume on that pain.
“A” is for Amplify and Aspirations.
The next step is to amplify the consequences of not solving the problem, and the aspirations they hold for the future. This is really the key to making sales, and it is probably the most neglected step in the process.
What will motivate people to buy your product, invest in your service, or accept your idea is usually not the beautiful outcome framed in a positive light on its own. You must get them to fully experience the consequence of not solving the problem. You must make them aware of the price of indecision.
“S” is for Story, Solution, and System.
Once you have described the problem, amplified the consequences of not solving it, and painted the picture of paradise, it’s time to share the story of how the problem can be solved.
It might be the story of how you yourself finally solved this persistent problem. It might be the story of how you helped a client or customer discover the solution on his or her own.
It does need to be more than simply a description of the solution. And if you’re thinking, “But what if there is no story?” I would suggest you just haven’t looked closely enough.
There is always a story to tell.
“T” is for Transformation and Testimony.
Remember that whatever you’re selling, whether it’s a home study program, a book, a seminar, your consulting services — anything at all — what people are buying is not the “stuff,” it’s the transformation.
When people buy P90X, they do not wake up one morning and say to themselves, “I sure hope somebody tries to sell me a bunch of exercise DVDs and a wall chart today.”
Those things (DVDs, charts, etc.) are the stuff.
What P90X buyers are actually purchasing is that lean, healthy, youthful physique they desire. The transformation.
The delivery method (coaching, online videos, personal consultation, or product in a box) is merely the vehicle. Don’t get the vehicle confused with the destination.
It’s also important that you offer testimony, real-life stories of people who have successfully made the transformation that you are providing. Study the most successful infomercials, and you’ll discover that they consist of about 70% testimonials.
Provide them with proof.
“O” is for Offer.
Now describe exactly what you’re offering.
Make certain that you focus 80% of your copy on the transformation itself. You do have to talk about the deliverables (the class schedule, the DVDs, etc.), but that should only occupy about 20% of your copy in this section.
Just remember that as you describe the deliverables in the offer section, you must keep tying them back to the transformation and benefits your buyers will receive.
So instead of simply writing that the buyer will receive “8 DVDs, each containing a 45-minute workout session,” you might instead write that they will receive “8 DVDs that each contain a body-sculpting, fat-burning transformational workout that will help you craft the lean, muscular body you really want.”
“R” is for Response.
This is one of the areas where copy tends to be the weakest: the response request. Ask the customer to buy.
Don’t be timid. Tell the customer exactly what to do in order to get your product. I often write copy similar to this:
Click the button below, fill out the order form, and we will immediately ship your entire package to you. It will contain everything you need to get started.
If you truly believe that you have a solution that will solve a problem for people, why on earth would you not be as direct as possible?
In fact, aren’t you doing them a disservice by not making the strongest case?
If you apply the principles of being a shepherd to your readers, and you follow the sequence of the P.A.S.T.O.R formula, my prediction is you’ll experience more sales, more profits, and happier customers more often.
Written by Ray Edwards
About the author: Ray Edwards is a Communications Strategist, Copywriter, Author, Speaker, and host of one the top iTunes Business Podcasts. He blogs at RayEdwards.com. Ray has worked with Fortune 500 companies, and his clients include New York Times best-selling authors Michael Hyatt, Tony Robbins, and Jeff Walker. Ray has helped sell over $200 million in products and services. His new book, How to Write Copy That Sells, is available here for a limited time free of charge.