Tag Archive | "Crucial"

Why You’re Missing Crucial Opportunities if You Think You’re ‘Not Creative’

I can’t stand hearing people say they’re “not creative.” That happened to me recently, after I sliced a finger and wound up in Urgent Care. When the doctor heard that my fiancé is a graphic designer, he launched into a well-rehearsed monologue: “Oh, my mom is a graphic designer; she’s so creative! I do some
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The Crucial Starting Point For Building a Digital Commerce Business

Image of Vintage Measuring Tape

In the latest episode of Rainmaker FM, Brian Clark and I talk about the big picture of digital commerce.

Many of us are now familiar with platforms like Udemy and Skillshare, but in 2007 Copyblogger launched its first product, one that was aimed directly at the myth that people wouldn’t pay for digital content.

A lot has happened in those seven years, and a lot of businesses have moved (and been born) online.

What does this mean for you?

In this 36-minute episode we discuss:

  • The powerful myth that might be ruining your online business
  • Does information really want to be free?
  • How to determine what to use as public and paid content
  • Why you should consider paying to build your audience
  • A definition of digital commerce (d-commerce)
  • Why the right information in the right place can change your life
  • The profitable intersection of direct marketing and instructional design

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker FM Episode No. 15

Or, grab it in iTunes.

About the author

Robert Bruce

Robert Bruce is VP of Marketing for the Rainmaker Platform and Resident Recluse of Copyblogger Media.

The post The Crucial Starting Point For Building a Digital Commerce Business appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Why Emotion-Based Writing is Crucial to Your Business Goals

Image of Comedy and Tragedy Theatrical Masks

Allow me to tell you two stories.

One is about a person who — through tragic accident — had part of his brain destroyed, leading to revelatory advances in psychology and brain research.

The other, about a stout, whiskered man who thinks sound decisions can come only from a cool head.

Do emotions affect our decisions? Do cool heads truly prevail when faced with choices?

And who cares? What does all this have to do the art and craft of copywriting and content creation?

Let’s find out …

Sound decisions without emotions … really?

One story begins in an ill-shaped conference room — wide at one end, narrow at the other — with a concrete floor and about a dozen halogen lamps hanging from the ceiling. Down the center of the room is a long black conference table.

Around that table sits the CIO, VP of IT, a program manager, two project managers, the marketing manager, an art director, three designers, an editor, a proofreader, several people I didn’t know, and me.

We were all gathered to kick off a bi-annual drive to focus attention on the organization’s humanitarian division. The campaign decision makers included an executive and two of his assistants.

The executive was short, stout, with large eyes, sandy hair and whiskers, wide but pleasing mouth, fine teeth. He was frank, but warm-hearted.

My job was to present rough creative and copy. The concept was simple: It spoke about the plight of poor children in the global south — the design amplified that emotion. Could the reader spare $ 50 to build a well in Sri Lanka? Feed a child in South Africa for a month?

This was content marketing designed to produce an action. We were eager to test it. But the division executive wanted nothing to do with it.

He said he never wants to feel like he is being forced to make a decision. He didn’t want to “feel” when he gave. He just wanted it to be a logical financial decision.

Fat chance.

The American Crowbar Case

Cavendish, Vermont. September 13, 1848. Phineas Gage, a 25-year old railroad construction foreman is leading a group who’s blasting rock through a bend for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad.

Gage is setting a blast. It’s a procedure he’s performed countless times: drill a hole, pour blasting powder down the hole, slide in a fuse and cover with sand.

Tamp the sand with an iron rod. Light the fuse. Run.

The sand is crucial. It keeps the explosion from going straight up the hole, maximizing the horizontal blast. But it also protects the blasting powder from the iron rod when tamped.

No one is sure why, but Gage forgot to add sand. He went to tamp the powder, created a spark when his rod struck the rock — and the powder exploded.

The rod pierced and passed through Gage’s head, landing over 80 feet away. The amazing thing is that Gage survived with no more than a damaged left eye.

But he would never be the same man again.

The surprising meaning of “Somatic Hypothesis Marker”

The doctor who treated his wounds observed that Gage’s personality had changed. He was “no longer Gage.” Once shrewd, smart and energetic, he became restless, lustful and fond of foul language.

He became an instant curiosity sitting in Barnum’s American Museum. But scientists found him curious, too.

These days Gage’s case, “The American Crowbar Case,” is a textbook fixture in neurology and psychology. It’s thought to have launched (or at least reinforced) the idea of functional specialization in the human brain — the idea that certain parts of the brain control different functions of the body (language, memory or motor skills).

There have been some noted abuses of Gage’s story, but Antonio Damasio, in his book Descartes’ Error, renders a fair telling of the story as an introduction to his idea of “somatic hypothesis markers.”

In English “somatic hypothesis markers” means this:

Emotions are a critical component to decision making.

Contrary to what many believe, emotions don’t get in the way of making wise, rational decisions. In fact, Damasio and many others make the point that without emotions, we are incapable of being rational, let alone pulling the trigger on even the simplest of decisions.

He’s got the studies to prove it.

Why this sad story is significant

During his work as a neuroscience professor Damasio observed patients with brain damage (bilateral lesions of the VM cortex, to be exact) struggle severely with making personal and social decisions.

They had trouble planning their day, let alone their future. They struggled with choosing friends and activities. They could calculate clearly, but couldn’t make up their minds about what to wear, where to go or when to eat … let alone giving to charity.

Why tell this sad story? What is the possible significance of such a bizarre tale? The answer is simple.

If you’re a copywriter, then — by default — you should write to the emotions of your readers. You need to know the proper appeals to use in order to gain attention, stoke interest and push for action.

This starts with knowing who your reader is. And appealing to his fears and hopes. Tapping into his beliefs and painting a picture of the world he or she wants to live in.

The 4 emotional appeals you need to master

From that platform, you can begin to build a proper appeal. The appeal is the reason you give the reader to buy. And the appeal is almost always expressed in the headline. (I’ll discuss this in greater detail below.)

John Caples, in his book Tested Advertising Methods (a must-read for any copywriter), says that all effective advertising boils down to an effective appeal. Here are the top four:

  • Love – This covers the entire gamut of love, from friendship to lust. We don’t want to be lonely. We want our children to love us. We want to get married. We want to look good. Think Men’s Health or Beautiful People.
  • Greed – We want to win the lottery, buy the fastest motorcycle, or throw the best parties. We want to retire early or send our children to the best schools. We want to dominate every opponent on the tennis court or become the smartest guy on campus. This is Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week or Forbes.
  • Fear – We fear getting laid off, dying or losing a child. We fear the government taking away our rights, our employers pushing us around, or a spouse leaving us. We fear failure. Think Stansberry & Associates or divorce lawyers.
  • Duty or Honor – We feel an obligation to our spouse, children, and parents. To our country, company, or community. To the poverty-stricken, widowed, and orphaned. Think Army or life insurance.

Naturally, these appeals overlap. And here’s what they might look like in the world of advertising:

  • Make more money
  • Save more money
  • Secure a better retirement — sooner rather than later
  • Lose weight
  • Conquer depression
  • Secure health care
  • Get promoted
  • Outshine your competition (or neighbor)
  • Grab fame and attention
  • Enjoy life
  • Reduce chores
  • Gain more leisure
  • Maximize comfort
  • Get free from worry
  • Nab a bargain
  • Belong to the popular club

In truth, it all boils down to this: eliminating anxiety.

Give the reader the sense that you will bring him peace (financial, future, relational, future, security) … that you’ll solve his problems that keep him up at night … that you will give him a good night’s sleep … and you will win his attention.

This is what happens when you fall in love with the human condition.

What this means for copywriters

You’re in the advertising trenches. Doing the dirty work. Here’s what that should look like:

  • Capture the prospect’s attention – Nothing happens unless something in your copy makes the prospect stop long enough to pay attention to what you say next. And it starts with the headline.
  • Maintain interest – Keep the copy focused on the prospect, on what he or she will get out of using your product or service
  • Move the prospect to positive action – Unless enough prospects are turned into customers, your copy has failed, no matter what.

What this means for content marketers

You’re in the war room. Maps and charts spread out before you. Here’s what your decision making should look like:

  • Evaluate your content strategy – On a macro level you must evaluate how every piece of content is designed to stop prospects — according to the goal of each particular piece of content. And don’t forget the universal connection of each piece of content: each piece is a chapter in the never-ending story of your product, company, service, or idea. It must all fit together.
  • Maintain interest – Keep the content funnel focused on the prospect, on what he or she will get out of reading and sharing your content. Segment if necessary. And diversify the format.
  • Hire the right people – Great content begins with a great team — exceptional creators and passionate subject matter experts. If you can find those qualities in the same person, don’t hesitate to nab him or her.

What this means for analytic gurus

You’re with the databases and the dashboards. You’re looking for what works and what doesn’t work. Here’s what emotional decision making means to you.

  • What are you testing and why? – Claude Hopkins started it with Scientific Advertising — the concept of using the scientific method to create advertising (create a hypothesis, test and record results). The tools available to measure the effectiveness of your content are legion. It can overwhelm even the mightiest of number-crunching beasts. But we can’t forget to connect the dots. To ask the why.
  • Challenge everything – Accept nothing as true until you’ve tested it. Then …
  • Build a knowledge bank – Document successes and failures. Never invent the wheel more than twice.
  • Treat every ad as an ongoing test – Challenge sacred cows (even if they were proven the year before). Learn from every test.

My favorite copywriting formula

Let me close with one of my favorite formulas for writing copy: the four Ps.

  • Promise – This is your headline. This is where you get their attention by communicating a promise that speaks to them. You are hitting a pain point — you’re making an appeal. You’re making it worth their time. You’re promising to solve meaningful problems. And you are making it emotional.
  • Paint the picture – Show them what their life will look like if you fulfill the promise you made in the headline. Tell a story of someone who got the raise they wanted because they listened to your advice. Tell a story of the active life someone now lives because of the weight they lost due to your program. Show them what their own future would look like, if they listen to you.
  • Provide proof – The two principles above deal in emotion. Proof trades in logic. You are going to help validate their feelings with evidence. You are going to provide numbers, statistics and testimonials.
  • Push – You’ve satisfied both reason and emotion. You gave them both what they wanted. Now your reader can make a sound decision based upon the information before him. He can decide if what you have to offer fits into his life and goals.

To see this formula in action check out my article Gimpy Web Copy? Use This 4-step Formula to Make it Killer.

Your turn …

So here’s the moral of story: if the stout man with whiskers ever ran into the Phineas Gage, he might have to re-evaluate his beliefs about decision making.

Not because a one-eyed man and his iron bar would threaten him. But because the evidence that emotion is a critical component of decision making is definitive.

We all need emotions to make decision. And we (content marketers) need emotions to persuade people.

So, have you run into anyone with a resistance to emotional copy? How did you handle it? And what are your feelings about emotions in the art of persuasion?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share below.

About the Author: Demian Farnworth is a freelance writer who hustles the finer points of web copy at the blog The CopyBot. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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4 Crucial Elements Every Sales Letter Needs

Copywriting 101: Writing Your Sales Letter

This is part four of the Copywriting 101 series. Previously we have covered headlines and the importance of and how to craft an engaging selling story for your body text after your headline. This week we will move onto other elements of the body copy, which include bullet points, testimonials, guarantees and calls to action.

You can check out previous articles in the series here:

  • Part 1: href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/7570/how-to-nail-a-killer-headline/">Copywriting 101: How To Nail A Killer Headline
  • Part 2: href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/7643/how-to-nail-a-killer-headline-part-2/">Copywriting 101: How To Nail A Killer Headline Part 2
  • Part 3: href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/7792/the-art-of-good-storytelling/">The Art Of Good Storytelling

1. How Bullet Points Can Make Your Sales Message Shine

  • Bullet points are great because they don’t require any transition from one point to the next (so you can just pile all your thoughts on top of each other and you don’t need to worry about the flow).
  • They are great to catch the attention of skimmers because it doesn’t look that intimidating to read a bunch of bullets as opposed to paragraphs of text (and sometimes for those skimmers, all it takes is one bullet that resonates with them to turn them into a buyer).
  • When done properly they are tremendously powerful and can add a lot of value to your copy like a great 1-2 knockout combination.

The bad news is that bullets are often done poorly.

Product creators or manufacturers are often obsessed with features and bullet points become the place where they pile all the features that they are so proud of. Often this can result in a big heap of technical jargon for the prospect and a whole bunch of words that don’t actually mean anything.

When you write your bullets or features think about the benefits for the prospect.

Recently in Australia there has been a car company doing some television advertisements just like this. A car savvy friend’s jargon is translated by his wife to a non car savvy friend. It is a great way to do both the features and benefits:

e.g. Car savvy person “it’s got twin fuel injected overhead cams.”

Wife to non car savvy friend “means it goes really fast.”

Poor Bullet Examples

id="more-7891">Recently I had a client ask me to look at his salescopy. He was happy with the copy and thought the reason his sales page wasn’t converting was because of the layout and design. He was promoting a weight gaining ebook and these are a few of his bullet points about what you will learn in the book:

  • What to eat
  • How much to eat

I almost fell asleep reading the bullet points. And this is not an isolated example. I am often astounded at the under utilization of bullet points in copy. Make sure your bullets are loaded and stacked with value and benefits for the prospect. Off the top of my head I told him that maybe we could jazz up the bullets a little bit and suggested something like this:

  • Discover exactly what to eat to gain weight. We layout the ultimate weight gaining eating plan in plain black and white so there is no more guess work… it’s so easy a child could follow it.
  • XYZ manual reveals the right quantities you should be eating (most of what you read on the Internet is dead wrong in this department)… this crucial factor alone can make or break your weight gaining dreams.

Really Loading Your Bullet Points

href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/7340/how-to-keep-your-finger-on-your-markets-pulse/">John Carlton is a master of bullet points. He loves to write them for the previously mentioned reason. He has said that he once wrote a salesletter with eight pages of just bullet points!

Something we can learn from Carlton is loading your bullets, which comes back to the features versus benefits. But it also comes back to knowing your prospect and realizing you are not selling a product or service. You are selling the dream, the real benefit the prospect wants. Let’s go through how we would load a bullet point for a sports car.



  • 320 horsepower engine

Feature and benefit

  • 320 horsepower engine means you will go really fast

Feature, benefit and dream

  • 320 horsepower engine means you will go really fast (and when you do eventually stop all the cute women won’t be able to take their eyes off you)

So think about your bullet points and really make them prospect value driven.

2. Testimonials

Testimonials are vitally important because they build trust and social proof. Remember href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/7792/the-art-of-good-storytelling/">last article I spoke about “checking off boxes” in the prospect’s mind before they pull out their wallet to make a sale. Well testimonials and providing social proof is one of those boxes that need to be ticked off.

If your product is new and you don’t have testimonials then you need to get them. So you may offer the product for a discount in order to get some feedback. The other thing people forget about testimonials is sometimes you have to ask for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials.

If you do have great testimonials, don’t hide them away. This is a common mistake I see in copy. It is almost like the testimonials are thrown in as an afterthought.

If you are making bold claims and you have the testimonials to back it up, then introduce them into the copy early on. Put a stop to any “bull crap” detector prospects may have with your bold claims with some crushing testimonials.

3. Guarantee

Just like testimonials, this is another “check box” that needs to be ticked off in the prospects head before they reach for that credit card.

Lots of people are scared of guarantees, thinking that they will be taken advantage of and people will try and rip them off. It is important to note that a large majority of people are honest and will not intentionally take advantage of your guarantee to get your product for free. So you have nothing to worry about.

I never advise making poor quality products. If you need to learn how to make a good quality product or ways to add value to your product, check out my href="http://entrepreneurkickstart.com/how-to-write-an-ebook/" target="_blank">product creation blueprint. So refunds based on poor quality products are a different matter.

That being said regardless of how good your product is there will always be refunds. It is just probability. For any market, it is estimated if your refund rate is below 7% you are doing great.  But the amount of refunds you get by offering a guarantee will be far out weighed by the amount of sales that having the guarantee in place generates.

How Long Should I Offer A Guarantee For?

Usually the longer the guarantee the more assurance it gives a prospect. You may not always have control over your guarantee length because of your payment processor. href="http://www.paypal.com/">Paypal will allow a 30 day refund period and href="http://www.clickbank.com/">Clickbank allows a 60 day period. You can do what some savvy marketers have done and take matters into your owns hands, which has led to two types of interesting guarantees:

1. As long as I have a pulse guarantee. Basically as long as the product owner is alive he will honor your guarantee for a refund.

2. Anytime guarantee. Even your grandchildren can get a refund on this.

Although extreme examples, it shows confidence in their product and will totally put the prospect’s mind at ease.

4. Asking For The Sale

This is also a common area where I see clients fumble the ball. After a great sales pitch, that checks all the boxes in the prospect’s mind, the sales pitch falters at the very end. It forgets to ask for the sale. /> /> The reason this is so commonly overlooked or forgotten is that it may seem like the next logical step of making purchase so obvious. Don’t make this mistake. Don’t leave anything to chance. Tell the prospect exactly what they need to do next. Don’t assume they will know the next logical step is buying the product.

This is classic direct response marketing. So don’t forget to ask for the sale. And don’t be afraid to ask for it a few times also.


Well that covers the content of writing a salesletter. If you are looking for a shortcut or crash course you can check out my href="http://entrepreneurkickstart.com/copywriting-in-a-hurry/" target="_blank">copywriting in a hurry post. There you will find a simple outline for writing a salesletter in a very short amount of time.

Stay tuned for next week where I will cover conversion testing and tracking. This is hugely important and I am shocked every time I speak to clients who are not utilizing proper testing and tracking. In my mind, that is just leaving money on the table.

Leevi Romanik

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