How Not To Be One-Man Charity System For Webmasters, Designers And Programmers, When You Launch Your Startup On The Web.

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Mon, 2007-05-28 07:17.
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Part I is here

Does your current Website suck?

Don't despair. Here are 3 of the fundamental ways I use to help even clueless rookies turn their sales site around, literally overnight.

To begin, I want to reveal a rather embarrassing little secret shared by all top copywriters: A poorly written ad sent to the right market... will do better than a brilliantly-written ad sent to the wrong market.

Seems simple, right? Don’t try to sell ice to Eskimos, but do offer ice water in a desert.

But I see countless entrepreneurs make this very same mistake repeatedly. Take, for example, the story of a guy I met at a Dan Kennedy seminar. This dude posted a gorgeous Website and was chagrined to get not a single blessed sale.

"What’d you pay to get the site up?" I asked, innocently.

"Ten grand," he said, without blushing. "But that included getting the product produced."

This guy was a walking around like a wounded gazelle in hyena town. He was a one-man charity system for designers and mail houses and manufacturers.

Don’t be this guy. He had violated the most basic secrets of all in business: Do the simple stuff first.

As it turns out, I know something about the market he was after. In fact, I know a LOT about that market.

And you know what? I didn’t matter how good the deal was on the Website. It didn’t matter how efficient the site captured visitors, or how easy it was to buy using the online ordering system. It didn’t matter how gloriously wonderful the product was. And it wouldn’t have made a difference if God himself descended upon earth and wrote this guy’s sales copy.

None of this was relevant.

Because there was no market there.

This guy spend ten thousand dollars to find out something he could have discovered for FREE. And it would have taken him all of about an hour too... instead of the months he spent creating the product, writing the copy, and wrangling with the website.

Here are the simple basics: First, do not create the actual product until AFTER you get a pulse from your intended market.

Second: Go to Google adwords. You can "test" most online markets without even signing up for service. It’s easy, too. The system will reveal to you how many hits certain words and phrases within your target market received. It will also suggest other words and phrases, based on what is actually getting the big numbers.

This is free market research. Just figure out what a prospect might put into a search engine in order to be in your target audience... and see if the action justifies your foray into this market. If the words and phrases you come up with are not among the most used, Google will tell you, and help you find the better ones.

And... if your and Google’s best efforts come up with pitiful results... then you are fishing in an empty pond.

Time to move on.

Now if you’ve already got a Website, and you KNOW you’ve got a market, here are three simple tips to dramatically improve sales:

First Web-Lesson: Get rid of all your whiz bang graphics.

This advice causes many geeks to sputter and clutch their chests. "What?! Ditch my dancing logo and QuickTime movies? But they look so cool!"

I have a small library of Websites pass across my desk every week for critique. And even though I have a computer so muscled-up with memory and power that after two years I haven’t dented the hard drive capacity... it still takes a full minute for some of these sites to load up.

That is suicide for a Website trying to sell something. It’s the equivalent of a door-to-door salesman standing on your porch clearing his throat for a full minute... or an infomercial with a minute of dead air... or a magazine with the pages containing your ad stuck together.

You are not in the business of entertaining your prospect.

You are in the business of creating such an urgent need deep inside his "sweet spot" that he can’t sleep until he has sent you money. And you don’t do that by asking him to twiddle his thumbs while you get your act together. And your graphics loaded.

Web-Lesson Number Two: The most successful sites I know about - and I know things about profitability that even other top players aren’t hip to yet - are also the most simple.

These sites are, in effect...

A Simple Sales Letter.

Until very recently, I’ve had clients who insisted that prospects on the Web would not read long copy. These are clients who know beyond a shadow of doubt that every other prospect they’ve ever snared has been hooked with long copy.

But suddenly, this can’t be the case on the Web. The Web is "different". Web-heads have shorter attention spans, they need to be titillated every few seconds, they pass out if something doesn’t explode soon.

It’s all B.S. And these clients realized it, after doing the simplest of tests: They pitted my long copy against their slashed-down shorter versions. And let the numbers decide.

Result: Long copy, as always and forever, slaughtered all other versions. Score another win for detailed, compelling, passionately sales-worthy copywriting.

Web-Lesson Number Three: Stop already with all the links leading off your page!

I just critiqued a site that had almost a dozen bright-blue links to other sites before the end of the second screen of manuscript.

Just follow this logic for a second here: You read a compelling sentence of sales copy, which ever-so-gently has begun to tickle your greed gland... and then, wheeee, you are rudely and abruptly transported to another Web page.

And that little tickle fades away, your greed gland goes back to sleep, and the process must start over from scratch on the new page.

Except that in most cases, the linked page doesn’t even pretend to have any relevance to the sales pitch on the main site.

It’s a jarring veer straight off a cliff into No-Sale Land. It’s death for a sales pitch. I am amazed when people argue with me about this. Yet, argue they do. Passionately.

They are simply wrong. All you need to do is run any Web-specific tactic by your inner salesman. He’ll tell you if it’s a good idea or not.

And linking people away from your sales message is like wrenching their eyes from your sales letter.

You break contact.

And your ruin the greased slide of the pitch.

Which leads nicely into the next tip. The "Bucket Brigade". Almost a lost art among new copywriters. And that’s a darn shame... because it’s so easy to use, once you take the time to learn the details.

What’s more, it’s one of the Grand Secrets behind copy that gets read.

And that means your pitch has been delivered... and that’s how sales happen, Bucko.

What, you ask, is the Bucket Brigade? You’ve been reading it, all through this report. All through every piece of copy I’ve ever written. Take a look at the first words of the six paragraphs above. The phrases "listen"..."sure"..."for example"..."what’s more"..."and that means"...and "what, you ask" are all members of the Bucket Brigade.

Hard working words that get your copy read.

Here’s the story: (That’s another phrase in the Brigade.) In the days before fire departments got organized, townsfolk would fight a fire by lining up and passing buckets of water from the nearest pump to the point of the blaze. Another line passed the buckets back to the pump.

This was the Bucket Brigade in action. Moving the water along briskly. No let up. No pauses. The buckets went in a fast, efficient, linear direction to get the job done.

Early copywriters adopted this term to explain the job of certain "keep reading" phrases. Used at the beginning of key paragraphs, these phrases and words made a simple promise to the reader: Don’t quit reading now - I have something really important for you right here. Don’t stop, or you’ll miss it.

The most common blunder rookie copywriters make is to assume the reader will "hang in there" while the writer wanders around making a convoluted pitch.

Your reader will not hang in there. At the very moment you bored him, or confuse him, or ask him to "bear with you" while you mumble and equivocate... he is out there. Sale lost.

So use the professional tricks all top copywriters use to force readers to go deeper and deeper into your pitch. Layout your sales page like a long-form sales letter. Remove any outside links. Don’t give click-happy readers any opportunity to abandon your sales pitch. Make your copy like a "greased slide" and zoom them effortlessly from start to sale.

Prospects do not leave a Webpage and come back to it later. You lose her, she’s gone.

I keep this same sort of tension going all through my copy - sometimes at the beginning of every single paragraph. I want her curiosity burning at high intensity each time her eyes move down the page.

The Bucket Brigade does that this handily: "Not only that" ... "But wait - there’s more" ... "And check this out" ... "Once more thing - it’s important" ... "And that’s just for starters" ... "We’re not through yet" ... "It gets even better" ... "Do you understand what this means?"

Or you can startle her: "You think I’m lying, don’t you?" "The doctors were sure I was going to die." "So I stole it."

Easiest: Use the old journalism trick of "who, what, why, where, when and how". "Who else uses this secret?" "What does this mean for you?" "Why would I share such a valuable tactic with a stranger?" "Where did I find this information?" "How would you like to see it for yourself?"

The good old Bucket Brigade. Leading your reader in a fast, linear path straight from your headline to your sales pitch. No let-up in tension. No chance for her to conveniently click away and "finish reading later". She will have to make an effort to tear her eyes from the screen... and that’s in your favor all the way.

So let’s hear no more whiny slander such as "but that sounds so corny!" It’s only corny until the checks start coming in.

Then it’s music to your ears.

Hey - how did Buck Rogers survive that mile-high fall from the cliff, anyway?

[Via - MarketingRebelRant.Com]

Principles of Salesmanship

Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation of Selling in America