Business Growth Masterclass 14: How to Be a (Better) Copywriter

Hello there and a belated Happy New Year to all who follow my blog. Let’s hope for a busy and very prosperous 2014 for us all.

Welcome to the 14th instalment of my Business Growth Masterclass. The step by step guide to building the business you always wished you could have.

Today, we’re going to look at what it takes to write brilliant attention-grabbing copy in all those marketing peices that are so important to the growth and prosperity of your business.

As ever though, before we get our teeth into today’s material, lets just check on actions from the last Business Growth Masterclass:

Did you do your homework?

  • You have created at least two advertisements to use in an upcoming campaign.
  • You have a plan in place to test and measure the success of each advertisement, and make changes based on your results.

Great! You’re all set to go with this month’s Masterclass. Read on.

When writing sales copy, you’re racing to hold your readers’ time.

Unlike novels or news stories, sales copy doesn’t have the luxury of a reader’s patience. No one is going to leisurely sit down with your brochure and pour over every word, or analyse your ad to really understand what it’s trying to communicate.

Writing for sales means racing to catch and hold your readers’ attention long enough to convince them to take action. Every word and every sentence needs to mean something to the reader and support your message.

There are dozens of helpful tips and suggestions in this Masterclass that will strengthen your ability to write effective copy. Someone once told me that copywriting can never be too long – just too boring. And it’s true. Copy needs to be captivating and easy to read or it simply won’t be read.

As you work through this Masterclass, I encourage you to take a few of your recent marketing pieces – like a brochure, sales letter, an ad or any other copy-heavy document – and identify the mistakes you may be making. There are always opportunities to strengthen your work, so be open to them.

In this Masterclass we will cover:

  • Copywriting myths
  • Tips for triggering emotions and hitting hot buttons
  • Strategies for improving copywriting
  • Persuasion techniques for marketing materials
  • Examples of effective copy

The first step to better copy is to stop buying into these myths about copywriting and copywriters.

I find that there are a lot of misunderstandings out there when it comes to copywriting and copywriters. This is often closely linked to advertising myths, like you have to have a big budget to be successful, or the prettier the ad, the more effective it is. It’s all just hype.

I urge you to let go of these common misperceptions:

1. Good copy needs to be clever and fancy.
Good copy needs to get the message to the right audience. Fluffy words, long sentences and poor attempts at clever humor get in the way of the message. You’re not competing for a copywriting award; you’re competing for customers. Worry less about the high budget ads in Vanity Fair, and more about your audience’s emotional triggers.

2. Copy is the crux of the marketing campaign.
Of course your copy is important to your marketing efforts, but it can’t make the ship float. You need to have your target market identified and your message clearly defined before you can reach out with success. You need to have a strong product or service offer before you can tempt your audience with it. Strong copy is essential, but only after a strong foundation has been built.

3. Only professional copywriters can write effective copy.
As a small business owner, you have a considerable advantage over professional copywriters and big budget ad agencies. You know your product inside and out, and are actually passionate about it. Once you understand the elements of strong copy, you’ll have no problem creating it yourself.

Here are the key points you need to remember when writing sales copy:

  1. Copywriting is persuasive writing.
  2. Use a strong headline to get your readers’ attention and read the sub headline.
  3. Use a captivating sub headline to get your readers to read the first sentence.
  4. Design your first sentence to persuade the reader to read your second sentence.
  5. Repeat until you convince the reader to take action.

Strong copy grabs and holds your readers’ hot buttons, and keeps them reading.

Just like you did when you practiced writing headlines and creating powerful offers, use your knowledge of your target audience to provoke emotional reactions in your sales copy.

1. Use the word ‘you’ twice as often as ‘us’ ‘we’ or ‘our’.
To avoid writing sales copy that focuses too much on the merits of your business, try writing from the perspective of your reader. Focus on answering the question “what’s in it for me?” over and over again.

People love talking about themselves, so let them. Use the word ‘your’ as often as possible, and twice as often as the words ‘us’ ‘we’ or ‘our.’ Pretend you’re having a conversation with one person in your target market, and talk about them as much as you can in that conversation.

For example, if I simply wrote, “Buy our product and receive…” it would not have the same impact as “When you buy our product, you will receive…” Similarly, “Our members benefit from hundreds of pounds in savings” doesn’t hold the reader like “When you become a member, you will save hundreds of pounds…” does.

2. Use emotional trigger words.
Keep your list of emotional trigger words and power words handy when you’re writing. Word choice is a powerful component of successful copywriting, and not because particular words or phrases are unique. A few dozen words and phrases in marketing have been proven to have a stronger impact on target audiences than others. (For examples of some of these “powerful” words, take a look at the list in Business Growth Masterclass 12)

Use the tools that are available to you to continuously update and add to your lists of powerful words and phrases for copywriting. Research ‘power words’ online, or invest in a software programme that will measure the impact of your copy based on a database of statistically measured words.

3. Describe your audience’s problem in detail.
Don’t assume that your reader knows you understand their problem, or the experience they’re going through. Sympathise with them and show that you understand their problem, just like you would with a good friend. This technique builds their trust and confidence in you, so the more specific you can be in your description, the better.

A meal delivery service might consider copy like this: Are you tired of coming home from work, exhausted after a long day, faced with coming up with yet another dinner idea for your family? The copy can then go on to describe how the audience would benefit from the service.

4. Concentrate on benefits.
People buy benefits and results, not features or attributes. No one buys water filters; they buy clean, fresh-tasting water. They don’t buy lawn mowers and fertilizer; they buy a green, well-manicured lawn.

Hit your target’s hot buttons by painting a picture of how the benefit will solve their problem. Describe how cough syrup will ease symptoms, not cure the ailment. Focus on what is bothering or irritating the reader, that’s what they care about. Show how your product will bring about relief.

Use these simple guidelines and techniques to improve your overall copywriting skills.

Tone

  • Studies have shown that conversational writing is remembered more often than formal writing. Write to your audience in the same way that you would speak to friends or family. If you struggle with this, consider taping yourself having a fake conversation with a potential client, and then transcribe what you said.
  • Read every piece aloud as part of your editing process to ensure that it flows smoothly and is easy to understand.
  • Write in a tone that your readers are comfortable with, and used to hearing. Read the publications that they read to gain an understanding of what that tone sounds like.

Sentence Structure

  • Keep sentences to about 16 words or less.
  • Maintain a rhythm in your writing by varying sentence length.
  • Split long sentences into two, and connect them with words like ‘so’, ‘and’, or ‘because’.
  • Limit paragraphs to two or three sentences, or a single thought.

Vocabulary

  • Use clear, simple language, just like you would in conversation.
  • Avoid complicated, overly descriptive words
  • When you read your copy as part of the editing process, take out any and all unnecessary words. Use the least amount of copy to communicate the most information.
  • Avoid any and all industry-specific jargon and corporate clichés
  • Keep language positive and future focused, using words like ‘can’ and ‘will’

Formatting

  • Use headlines and sub headlines to break up your copy into sections
  • Remember that most people only skim information in the newspaper or on websites, so format your writing to be conducive to that habit.
  • List benefits and other important points in bullets or numbers so the reader can quickly identify which parts are of interest to them.

The Post Script

  • Use the Post Script (P.S.) at the end of your sales letters or direct mail letters to reinforce your message.
  • Studies show that reader look first at the headline, then the signature and P.S. before deciding to read the letter.
  • The P.S. can act as a secondary headline, or last opportunity to sell your message. Use it to restate a guarantee, powerful offer, primary benefit or free trial.

Use the following persuasion techniques for a surefire boost in response rate for your marketing materials.

Now that you’ve grasped a few of the basics of copywriting, use persuasion techniques to drive your message home and convince your audience to take action. Compelling or persuasive writing gradually builds an argument and leads the reader slowly down the path to the call to action.

Sales copy is persuasive because, when done right, it:

  • Grabs the attention of the reader from the beginning
  • Supports a main focus or argument
  • Backs up claims with specific proof like stats and expert opinion
  • Makes the reader believe what the copy is saying
  • Convinces the reader to act because there is something in it for them

Use storytelling to hold your readers’ attention 
We’ve all been conditioned to pay attention and respond to storytelling, so use this technique to hold your audience’s attention. Stories are also easier to remember than facts or lists. For example, tap into their empathy and tell them the story of someone who had a similar problem to the one they do, and describe how your product or service provided the solution. Use the story to gradually build proof behind your message.

Use metaphors to communicate imagery 
You won’t always be able to include images in your marketing pieces, so train yourself to write copy that communicates imagery in words. The easiest way to do this is to compare your points to strong images and objects that your audience will relate to and feel emotional about. You can do this with metaphors like sleep like a baby, and brewing like a perfect storm.

Use repetition to reinforce key messages
It often takes several attempts before someone will truly hear and understand what you have to say, so don’t be afraid of repeating yourself in your copywriting. Repeat your key messages several different times, several different ways. You can summarise your points in bullet form at the end of letters or important paragraphs, or use testimonials to reinforce your message through someone else’s voice.

Back up your claims with ‘reasons why…”
Use the word ‘because’ or the phrase ‘here’s why’ to build trust in your statements and claims. Place short lists of proof beneath bold statements; you are more likely to be believed because you went to the effort of backing up what you had to say.

Answer silent objections
Just like in the sales process, attempt to overcome objections before they can even be raised. Based on your experience selling to live customers, address one or two of the common objections in your copy. This shows that you understand the reader’s perspective and relate to their thought process because you’ve answered questions before they’ve asked them.

All successful copywriting taps into a reader’s emotional triggers, and convinces them to take action.

I know I keep coming back to this, but it’s really important. The more you can cultivate your ability to use words and persuasion to motivate your prospects, the stronger your marketing materials will be. All you have to do is practice, and test out a few of the techniques you learned today.

If you like, I can share with you a few tried and trusted templates for getting your marketing message across. All you have to do to benefit from this is fill in the form below and we can get started straight away. These make the job super easy and will save you heaps of time working it all out for yourself.

You can also use the contact form to discuss and get help with the topics covered in any of the previous Business Growth Masterclasses. (Listen, I know some of you don’t like filling in forms like this, but I promise you it will be worth your while. Go ahead!)

Since you’re probably seeing a big increase in qualified leads by now, we’re going to shift gears in the next Masterclass and move on to step two: increasing conversion rates. Are you ready?

Until then, good luck!

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Business Growth Masterclass 12 – How to Write Headlines That Stop Them in Their Tracks

Hello there, and welcome to the 12th instalment of my Business Growth Masterclass blog. The step by step guide to building the business you always wished you could have.

Today, we’re going to look at how to write headlines for your marketing material which will stop your target customers and clients in their tracks.

As ever though, before we get our teeth into today’s material, lets just check on actions from the last Business Growth Masterclass:

  • You have created at least two offers that you can use as lead generation tools .
  • You have begun to test and measure the strength of your two strong offers to evaluate which is more effective.

Everybody done that? OK. Let’s get on with finding out how to write attention grabbing headlines.

This may sound obvious and may also sound simple, but all your headline needs to do is convince your reader to keep reading. But simple is not always that easy…..

Just like your lead generating offer, your headline has one job. It doesn’t need to close sales, or win copywriting awards, it just needs to grab and hold your reader’s attention long enough to keep them reading.

Studies have shown that around 80% of people read headlines when they’re looking through the newspaper, but only about 20% actually read the ad or article.

Your headline is the only tool you have to get the rest of your copy read, so you’ll need to focus the majority of your copywriting efforts on catching and holding your readers’ attention. The rest of your copy only matters if you can get them to read it!

In this Business Growth Masterclass we will cover:

  • The role of strong headlines in all of your marketing materials
  • Headlines as emotional motivators
  • How to create strong headlines for your audience
  • Examples of strong headlines
  • Headline templates
  • Testing and measuring headlines

Headlines shouldn’t be limited to advertising alone – they’re essential elements of sales letters, direct mail cards, websites, newsletters and brochures.

Headlines are used to grab and hold reader’s attention in ALL marketing materials – not just advertisements in newspapers. Most readers take only a few seconds to decide if they want to spend any time reading what you have to say, in an email, website, sales letter or direct mail postcard. Just like you, your audience is bombarded by information every minute of the day, so if you haven’t convinced them to care in a few seconds or less, they’ve already moved on.

Your subheadline is almost as important, because it’s your second chance to tell the reader why they should care and keep their attention. It also creates a transition between your headline and the body of your letter or advertisement, and acts as a teaser.

Every headline should:

  • Grab the reader’s attention
  • Be something the reader cares about
  • Offer your reader something
  • Trigger emotional reactions
  • Incite curiosity

Headlines need to trigger an emotional response and motivate your reader to keep reading.

When you’re writing, you have to put yourself in the mindset of your audience. People are pressed for time, so your headline has to offer something to them that is going to solve their problem, make their life easier, or give them information that they know they need. Otherwise, they’ve already turned the page.

For example, if I were to write a headline like this – Give me three hours of your time and I’ll show you how to double your annual income by creating a passive income stream – I’m probably targeting overworked, overwhelmed, underpaid professionals who are struggling to provide for their families. I’ve tapped into their emotional motivators and caught their attention.

There are a few categories of basic human needs that most purchase motivations come from. When you are aware of these, you will be able to incorporate them into your writing and appeal to your target market’s emotions.

By identifying your target market’s needs, wants, and desires, you’ll be able to identify the words and phrases that will effectively trigger emotional reactions, which will motivate them to take action.

Using the list of basic human needs below, identify which apply to your target market and create a list of words that will trigger the emotions related to these needs, wants and desires.

  • Personal, financial and emotional security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry, including peace of mind, comfort
  • Self-improvement, including spiritual, intellectual, physical
  • Acceptance and recognition from others, including self esteem, achievement, attention, respect, companionship
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, clothing, love, personal maintenance

When you begin writing your headlines, you will discover that certain word combinations are also very powerful. You can combine your list of emotional trigger words with these power words in all of your copywriting.

According to a Yale University study, the top two rows of words are the most powerful words in the English language.

Love Money Health Discovery Proven Save
Safety You Easy Results New Guaranteed
Breakthrough Profits Discover Incredible Shocking Shocked
Ultimate Free Master Uncovered Hidden Secret
Revealed Scientific Your Powerful Suddenly Miracle
Now Magic Announcing Offer Introducing Quick
Improvement Amazing Wanted Sensational Challenge Remarkable
Compare Startling Bargain Hurry

Here’s how you can write effective headlines for your business in a few easy steps.

1. Identify who you are trying to target.

You need a clear understanding of who you’re writing for and what their motivators are before you can attempt to reach them. This is the target market you identified for yourself in Business Growth Masterclass Instalment 7, published in  April 2013.

If you are trying to target a more specific group within your target market, you can chose to segment your market into sub-markets by demographic or behavioural characteristics. For example, you might choose to focus on only men, or only women with children under five years of age.

The more specific you can be with your market, the easier time you will have identifying and reaching their emotional ‘hot buttons.’

2. Identify what you are trying to communicate.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, clearly define what message you want to communicate to them. Be specific, and even write it down in plain language before you start drafting your headlines.

To clearly articulate your message, ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you have a solution to their problem?
  • Do you offer a new product or service that they need?
  • Can you provide the information they’re looking for?
  • Do you have a better option for them?

3. Identify the motivators or “hot buttons” that will elicit an emotional response from your audience.

Take the list you drafted above, and highlight or write down the words that will pique your target market’s interest, or trigger their ‘hot buttons’.

If you’re selling vacuum cleaners to young mothers, you’re going to want to identify words that would appeal to her desire to keep her home germ free for toddlers, and make her cleaning efforts easier and less time consuming.

When you’re writing for sales and marketing, always try to paint a picture for your audience. Carefully select descriptive words they will relate to and resonate with, and strong power words like the ones listed above. For example, phrases like “challenging outdoor experiences” would appeal to physically fit readers, but not those who don’t like to exercise.

4. Choose a type of headline that will work best based on the emotional motivators you have identified.

Direct Headlines clearly and simply state the offer or message, without any attempt at humor or cleverness. Pure Silk Scarves – 40% This Weekend Only | Brand New Security System Just £99 Per Month

Indirect Headlines are subtle, and often use curiosity to pique a reader’s interest before providing an explanation in the body copy. Clever puns, figures of speech and double meanings are often used. The key to weight loss success lies in your backyard.

News Headlines mimic a headline you would read in the newspaper and are a great option for a new product announcement or industry scoop. These work best when you actually have news, and can stay focused on benefits, not features. Newco launches the ultimate timesaver for new moms

Question Headlines ask the reader something they can closely relate to or would need to continue reading to discover the answer. Questions are easy to read, and can immediately tap into your reader’s emotions.Are you tired of worrying about your children’s education fund? | Do you know what’s in your fruits and vegetables?

‘How to’ Headlines indicate that the rest of the copy or the offer itself will describe a step-by-step process of interest or use to the reader. These two words create headlines that work wonders. How to find a job in a recession | How to start a profitable internet business from scratch.

Command Headlines are similar to direct headlines, but always start with a strong verb or command for action. It usually focuses on the most important benefit you offer your reader. Triple your energy in just three days | Stop wasting money when you travel.

‘Reasons Why’ or ‘Ways to’ Headlines precede lists of tips, suggestions, product benefits or even mistakes of interest to your target audience. Keep the list to a reasonable length or you’ll run the risk of losing your reader. Eight ways to save money around the house | 25 mistakes you could be making at the grocery store.

Testimonial Headlines use other people’s opinions and expertise to persuade a reader to keep reading and begin to build trust. Quotation marks are used to indicate that the words are a testimonial, not the words of your business, and they can increase readership by almost 30%. “ToneYou Bootcamp completely changed the way I look at my body” – Miley Cirrus | “I never thought I’d get out of debt before I discovered Money Saver Inc!” – Grace LePage

5. Draft at least ten different headlines using the templates below, and pick your best three to test and measure.

I often get asked how long a headline should be. This is something that is debated in the marketing community quite a bit, but I always tell my clients not to worry too much about it. Use the number of words you need to get your point across, without writing a paragraph. Remember that your headline needs to do one thing: get the reader to keep reading.

Don’t be afraid to draft pages of headlines or sift through the pages of a thesaurus before you get yours just right. Sometimes you’re only a word or two away from transforming a boring headline into a really effective one. If you’re having trouble, you can rely on the headline templates I’ve included in this Business Growth Masterclass.

Headline Templates

  • How to become the smartest _____ in _____
  • How to end ______
  • How I improved my _____
  • How to develop _____
  • Seven ways to add to your _____ without cleaning out your bank account
  • How to begin _____
  • 12 innovations in _____ design
  • How to enjoy _____
  • Introducing the four key rules for _____
  • How I _____
  • Six things to check when buying a new _____
  • How to conquer _____
  • Complete these three simple steps for a _____
  • How to start_____
  • Five hints to make your _____ rise above the rest
  • How to have______
  • How to become _____
  • Announcing eight powerful answers to your “what _____ to buy” dilemma
  • Which _____ do the experts use?
  • Powerful ways to update your _____ for free
  • How to keep _____
  • The four components that make up a successful _____
  • How to improve your _____
  • Six essential questions to ask before you buy a _____
  • How to get ______
  • Three clever ways to impress _____ without breaking the bank
  • The six warning signs you don’t want to miss in _____
  • How to get the most out of ______
  • Nine tips from the _____ experts
  • How to avoid _____
  • How to stay ahead of business _____ trends in _____
  • How to get rid of _____
  • Five proven advantages that _____ enjoys over the competition
  • How you can _____
  • Finally! The latest _____ secrets revealed!
  • Learn how xxx has improved since you bought your last _____

6. Always test and measure the effectiveness of your headlines. Try two at a time and compare which generates the best results.

As always, you will need to test and measure the strength of your headlines. Try to test at least two “hot buttons” in different media to determine where your target audience’s reaction is the strongest.

You can leverage off of the information gathered from testing and measuring your powerful offer as well. For example, if the offer geared to safety and security concerns was a roaring success, headlines that tap into those motivators will also be successful.

You can apply these headline writing techniques to all your marketing materials, as well as your copywriting.

In our fast-paced society, nearly everyone has become a skimmer instead of a reader. Strong, well-written headlines are the only way you can lure a browser into reading your message – so use them on every piece of marketing material you have.

In future Business Growth Masterclasses, you’ll work on creating brochures, newsletters, direct mail pieces, sales letters and sales scripts – all of which need strong headlines to get noticed.

In the next Business Growth Masterclass we’re going to work on a really popular lead generation tool that also relies on effective headlines for success – ads. You’ll focus on how to use print advertising to bring in qualified leads, as well as how you might benefit from trying some inexpensive forms like classifieds ads and Yellow Pages.

See you in the next one!

Dave

Oh, by the way, if you would like some help with the ideas discussed in this, or any of the previous Business Growth Masterclasses, or to get expert help with any other aspect of growing your business, use the following form to get in touch: (Listen, I know some of you don’t like filling in forms like this, but I promise you it will be worth your while. Go ahead!)

Business Growth Masterclass No. 11: How to Craft Powerful Offers

Hello there, once again, and welcome to the latest instalment of my blog series, The Business Growth Masterclass. This is the 11th in the series and I have called it “How to Craft Powerful Offers

As ever, before we get our teeth into this vital subject, I just need to check you have taken on some action fromthe last Business Growth Masterclass:

Checkpoint:

  • You have identified which marketing materials you need, and which you can live without.
  • You have completed an audit of your existing marketing materials, and identified opportunities for improvement based on the criteria in The Business Growth Masterclass no. 10.

Focus on using powerful offers to generate leads, not to close sales.

Powerful offers that drive your audience to take action can be used in your business to do a myriad of things. They’re great for moving old or overstocked product, overcoming buyer objections, eliminating purchase risk, or even just building your customer database.

Well-crafted offers are also fantastic lead generators – which is what we’re going to focus on in this Master Class. In this case, the offer is designed to get potential customers to identify themselves, not to close sales. Once those potential customers have identified themselves – they’ve taken action to redeem the offer – they enter the formal sales process and you can convert them into a loyal customer.

Offers designed to be lead generators drive more qualified prospects to your business. They weed out the buyers who would take advantage of your offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market.

I’m going to show you how to speak to your target market’s “hot buttons” and emotional motivators, instead of simply crafting an offer based on financial savings or bonuses. Let’s get started!

In this Business Growth Master Class we will cover:

  • The elements that make an offer ‘powerful’
  • A step-by-step process for creating a powerful offer
  • Types of powerful offers
  • Examples of powerful offers
  • Testing and measuring your powerful offers

A powerful offer is irresistible to your potential customers’ emotional motivators.

In simple terms, a powerful offer gets people to respond, or take action. It will provide enough motivation for the reader to pick up the phone, visit your website, or walk into your store.

Often, powerful offers are called irresistible offers because they seem too good to pass up. They make your target audience think, “Wow! This is the chance I’ve been waiting for!” or, “I’d be mad not to take advantage of this opportunity!”

Using emotional motivators in your offer (and in your headlines and copywriting, which we’ll review in upcoming Master Classes) will drive qualified prospects to your business, and will make the job of converting customers into repeat business easier and more cost effective.

A powerful offer will feature an element of urgency or scarcity as a key motivator for action.

If I offered “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts” every day of the year, chances are I wouldn’t have a stampede of prospects at my door. I would likely draw a few new clients a week, but the majority of those who saw the offer – even if they were interested – would probably put it off for later.

When you create an offer for lead generation, you want your prospect to take action as soon as possible. Now, let’s face it, we’re all procrastinators at heart, so you have to give your audience a reason to take action without delay.

So, instead of just “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts,” I could offer, “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, Mother’s Day weekend – 20 spots available, book your appointment today!” This offer has an element of urgency – the offer is only valid for a two-day period – and scarcity – there are a limited number of appointments during those two days.

Here are some other ways I could use scarcity or urgency to ‘sweeten’ the offer:

Strategy Scarcity / Urgency Example
Limited time offer Urgency 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts – Mondays from 1pm to 4pm.
Limited supplies available Scarcity Free! Mother’s Day gift (£50 value) with purchase for the first 20 customers on Mother’s Day.
Seasonal specials Urgency Mother’s Day Special: buy one, get one free on any service in our spa, Mother’s Day weekend only.
Free gift with action Scarcity Bring your mom in for a free haircut on Mother’s Day, and receive a salon bonus pack, worth £45, absolutely free!
Daily deal Urgency Book an appointment with us by the end of the day, and we’ll add on a free haircut for your daughter.

Let’s walk through an easy step-by-step process for creating powerful offers that will generate qualified leads for your business.

1. Establish who you are trying to target, and what you want them to do.

Like all of your lead generation efforts, you need to establish who your target market or audience is before you can attempt to reach them. In most cases, this will be the target market you originally identified. In my hair dresser’s salon example, the target market is middle-class women aged 18 to 65 with an interest in the latest trends in fashion and beauty.

You may also wish to segment that group of people into a more specific category. I could limit my target audience to those women in my target market with daughters.

Secondly, you must be clear about what you want your readers to do, and ask them to do it in your offer. Since you’re creating an offer to generate leads, in this case you want readers to identify themselves in some way, and make contact with you. In my example above, I asked customers to call and reserve their appointment today. You may ask your readers to come to the store for a free trial, or place an online order.

2. Identify the emotional motivators or “hot buttons” that will get your target to take action.

Using the categories below, decide why your target market needs or wants what you have to offer. How do they feel in general about your product or service? What problem does your offer provide the solution to?

  • Safety and financial security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry
  • Self-improvement
  • Acceptance and recognition from others
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, love, personal maintenance, etc.

In my example, I’m targeting the emotions associated with the bond between mothers and daughters, especially on Mother’s Day, and their common interest in beauty services. The offer alludes to an opportunity to spend time with each other, an activity for Mother’s Day, and a way to save money while doing so.

3. Once you have identified the emotions you will try to target, determine which type of offer will work best.

Free Offer
Ask your potential customer to act immediately for a free reward. This is a great lead generator if you can offer a solution to a common problem for free. Examples would be “Contact me now to receive your free 10-page guide to financial freedom,” or “Act now and get your first month of home security for free – a £99 value!” Try to include the pound value of what you are providing for free to increase the perceived value.

Guarantee Offer
Guarantee the performance of your product or results of your service, and you’ll take away the fear many customers feel when making a purchase. This is a great way to overcome barriers when a customer is making a large or important purchase, or when safety and security are involved.

  • Money-back guarantee: full refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Double-your-money-back guarantee: double refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Long-term guarantee: one year, multi-year or lifetime guarantee.

Free Trial or Demonstration Offer
Another great way to reverse purchase risk is to offer a free trial (7, 14, or 30 days) or to provide a free demonstration. This works with all kinds of products or services, and allows the customer to convince himself that he needs what you have to offer. Those customers who are concerned about making the right purchase decision will be put at ease by this offer.

Package or Value-Added Offer
This offer appeals to customers looking for convenience because their needs are met in one place or one purchase, like start-up kits and special packages. Packaging products also increases the perception of value, often without adding costs. For example, offering a free printer with computer purchase.

Premium Offer
Always offer premiums over discounts, as they will better serve your bottom line. Reward purchases with bonus products or services, and you’ll give new customers an incentive for choosing your business over the competition.

3. Draft several hard-to-refuse offers based on these motivators.

Brainstorm as many different types of offers as you can, using emotional keywords or hot buttons. Depending on the type of business you have, and the products or services you offer, you may wish to focus on a single product or service, or open up the offer to all the items you have in store.

Are there any freebies you can throw in? Any overstock that can be handed out as a free gift, packaged with a complementary product? What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference?

Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid lengthy description of product details and benefits. Your goal is to sell the offer and motivate readers to take the next step, not to sell your product.

4. Evaluate the financial viability of each of your brainstormed offers.

Even though you’re using these offers as lead generation tools, you need to make sure that each transaction will turn an acceptable profit – or at least allow you to break even. The last thing you want to have happen is a store full of leads redeeming an outrageous offer that will leave you broke.

So, for each of your brainstormed offers, calculate your break-even point. If I were offering 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, my calculation would look something like this:

A. Costs: Determine the costs involved in your offer (hard costs – product or service, and soft costs – advertising or marketing).

Service costs:
Adult Haircut: £20
Junior Haircut: £10

Marketing costs:
Advertising: £200
Flyer Drop: £100

B. Profit: Assess how much profit you’ll generate per sale (price minus hard costs).

Adult Haircut: £40 (price) – £20 (cost) = £20 profit
Junior Haircut: $0 (offered free) – £10 (cost) = £10 expense

Profit: £20 – £10 = £10 profit per transaction

C. Break Even Point: Calculate how many transactions you’ll need to break even (how much profit will you need to make to cover soft costs).

Advertising (total): £300
Profit: £10
Transactions: £300 / £10 = 30 transactions required to break even.

From here you can assess whether or not you can realistically break even, and if your offer is financially viable. In this example, 30 transactions is a reachable target for my salon over the course of a weekend. I may also consider extending the offer over the course of a week, maintaining an element of urgency, but allowing more time to recover my costs.

Keep in mind that their initial purchase in response to your offer may only allow you to break even, but if you are able to convert them into repeat customers, the profit of their subsequent purchases may make up the difference.

5. Select two of your financially viable offers, then test them to measure which works best.

I like to test two offers at a time when I first start to use this lead generation strategy. This will tell me what emotional motivators really work with my target audience, and then I can continue to build on that knowledge.

Use your lead tracking system to measure which offers generate the highest number of leads. If coupons are a part of your offer, put a tracking code on each of them, or make sure that your staff are asking every inquiry which offer they are responding to.

Remember, testing and measuring is a vital component of your lead generation efforts, and it elicits some really valuable information. Once you know what works with your audience, you can use that information on emotional motivators to influence decisions you make when writing headlines and other copy.

Get creative and put together new and exciting offers for your potential clients on a regular basis.

Remember – you’ll need to keep improving and revising your offers to ensure you continue to draw leads from them. Otherwise, your audience will get used to seeing the same offer, assume it is always available, and it may become stale.

Use opportunities like seasons, events, anniversaries and other celebrations to change and renew offers. When you bring in a new product line, feature a new service, or try to go after a new segment of your target market, check-in to see if you can create an offer around the news and bring in some new leads.

In the next Business Growth Master Class, we’re going to spend some time cultivating your headline writing skills. You’ll see that we use headlines in all types of marketing and sales materials, and they’re a powerful – or even essential – component of your lead generation tools.

See you in the next one!

Dave

Oh, by the way, if you would like some help with the ideas idiscussed in this, or any of the previous Masterclasses, or to discuss any other aspect of your business growth strategy, use the following form to get in touch: