Brent Hodgson, Copywriter

Copywriter and Internet Marketing Consultant

Sales Copy for Small Businesses - Now the #1 Business Podcast in iTunes

1 Comment

Recently, I’ve seen some interesting results from sales copy…

…From a marketing campaign that sold iPods for more than their recommended retail price, to a simple tweak that tripled conversion rates on a registration page.

I guess interesting news travels fast - because Luke and Tim from Small Business Big Marketing got in touch to request an interview for their regular free podcast.

(It’s one of the top Business podcasts on iTunes, and I think one of the best.)

If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, the interview is currently the #1 most-popular podcast episode in iTunes’ Business and Marketing Category.

That means it’s been more popular than the Harvard Business Review’s special podcast episode on “What Successful People Do Differently” and an interview with Jim Collins (author of “Good to Great” and “Built to Last”.)

There’s also been a heap of great feedback, like this from “Jason” (a regular listener):

Been listening to your podcast for a few months now, picked up a few tips for my online business, but none more useful than the stepped guide to writing a good sales letter. Perfect timing too.

I re-wrote my landing page blurb after listening to part 1 (couldn’t wait for part 2, but generally got it right, regardless), and my bounce rate has dropped 15%, while time average time on site has doubled, since the update.

We go into some of the copywriting tactics that have been particularly effective for me lately, and how small businesses should be using sales copy to maximise profits.

You can download it directly via iTunes’ here, or from the Small Business Big Marketing website.

It’s well worth a listen, it’s a free to enjoy, and free to subscribe.

Brent

P.S. - Part #2 (where I go through my copywriting process) is due out shortly.

Make sure you subscribe to their podcast - because it’s a pure-content episode.

Edit: Part #2 has just been released. Here’s the link to download it from the website, or from iTunes.

Popularity: 4%

→ 1 CommentPosted to Categories: Copywriting

November 10th, 2011 · Brent Hodgson

3 Top Pro-Bloggers on How To Increase Blog Traffic

21 Comments

I’m just back from Social Media Club Melbourne, where 3 professional Melbourne-based bloggers shared their tips on how to build a successful blog:

  • Duncan Riley (@DuncanRiley) - Founder of The Blog Herald (which sold in 2006 for an undisclosed sum [reported to be US$72,000]), Co-Founder of B5 media, and Founder of Inquisitr - a news site that receives nearly 6,000,000 pageviews per month, and 40,000 unique visitors per day. (!!!)
  • Darren Rowse (aka @ProBlogger) - The mega-blogger being ProBlogger.net, wellspring of wisdom and inspiration to millions of bloggers, and a regular source of blogging tips to 350,000 subscribers worldwide. And;
  • Pip Lincolne (aka @meetmeatmikes) - Craft blogger, author and retailer - and the creative streak behind Meet Me At Mike’s.

…A nice cross-section of the blogosphere spectrum.

(Also in the mix was Master of Ceremonies Yvonne Adele - who I remember as “Ms Megabyte” from television and news media around 1999-2001.)

Below are my notes from the event - they’re the tips I found most interesting, the ideas I wanted to share with others, and the thoughts I had myself while listening.

On Making Money With Blogs and Blogging Success:

After blogging every day for 8 years, you gather a following and a lot of experience about what works and what doesn’t.

It’s important to blog consistently

Started simple. Tried different things. Kept tweaking until things worked.

“Since starting, we’ve posted 22,000 blog posts.”

Write content that people will want to pass on to and share with their friends. e.g. “50 ways to…”

A lot of bloggers, when they begin, say “I’ll try this out for 2 years to see if it works.” Dunan Riley took a more aggressive approach. “I have 6 months to make money out of this.”

[Reminds me of the difference between an Amateur and a Pro in "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield - Brent]

On Multi-Person Blogging and Sharing the Load:

You’re just one view. If you’re the only voice on the blog, you only get one view on any topic.

By inviting others to guest post, you get a range of views…

You may still need to edit their posts, but you become an editor and publisher rather than a content producer.

Hire bloggers to guest post. 4-10 writers blogging weekly can help you develop a lot of content. (10 writers x 1 post per week x 52 weeks per year = 520 posts.)

Approach people who are already blogging on a topic, and invite them to post for you. [guest poster, hire for ghostwriting, or to give themselves free exposure]

On Targeting Your Blog Audience:

Develop a reader profile: Find a photo of a person who you believe represents your target market.

Who are they? What do they do? What are their needs?

But, most importantly, where are they hanging out online?

Once you know where they are hanging out (Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, a particular niche forum or site, particular blogs, etc) develop a presence there.

On Video Blogging (Vlogging):

Personal video increases engagement with your readers. Particularly women, who may be lurking but not leaving comments.

After Darren Rowse began posting videos to his blog [some showing his children] a woman ran up to him at a conference and hugged him. “I feel like I know you!”

It’s great to have engaged fans, but remember to also be mindful and protective - especially when involving your children.

A short video can take just as long to produce - or even longer - than a quality [text] blog post. [Especially if you're wearing lipstick.]

Transcribe videos you produce, and make the transcriptions available. Not only does this have SEO benefits [more search-engine-readable content], it also suits people with different learning styles. [Kinesthetic, auditory or visual]

On Blogging Ethics:

When your site becomes large enough, you’ll be sent / offered products to review - for free. Don’t promote just because someone sends you a free product.

You can sell your soul, but you can’t buy it back.

On Growing your Blog Following:

GET THE OPT-IN!

Darren Rowse uses a [somewhat] invasive popup on the first visit, inviting the user to opt in to receive weekly newsletter.

This has given him 350,000 email subscribers, in addition to his 100,000 RSS subscribers;

It’s led to a lot of repeat traffic;

And it means he can launch a product and be practically guaranteed of making good sales!

Facebook “Like” buttons created a substantial increase in traffic for Duncan Riley’s site Inquisitr.com - boosting its readership from XX unique pageviews per month to XX uniques.

Develop an understanding of marketing, SEO, etc. Blogging is about more than just producing content. Just because you’ve built it, doesn’t mean they will come.

On Being Master Of Your Domain:

Invest in a domain name on Day 1. Don’t start on Wordpress.com / Blogger.

A lot of bloggers moved away from blogging, and onto Facebook / Twitter. This is a mistake because they are relying on these services to continue to be popular / available / accessible. [Think what might have happened if the site you started 2, 5, 10 years ago was relying on MySpace or Geocities for traffic today!]

BH: Don’t let “tech” get in your way. BlogSetup.us will install a blog for you for free. (Use Domain Samurai [free domain search tool software] to find a good domain name for your site, and then register it through BlogSetup.us.)

On beginning:

Don’t assume your blog won’t be big / successful. This was a mistake I made. As a result, I have no categories on my blog. - Pip

Start something. You don’t have to be an expert to begin.

If you’re interested in attending the Social Media Club Melbourne events, check out http://socialmediaclubmelbourne.com/

For more tips on blogging, check out the #SMCmelb Twitter hashtag.

Edit: @CathKing also shared her notes from the event here. What I like about her notes (apart from the fact that they were written on an iPad) is her perspective - we were both at the same event, but Cath’s notes are very different to mine.

Popularity: 9%

→ 21 CommentsPosted to Categories: Internet Marketing · Traffic Generation

June 9th, 2010 · Brent Hodgson

Do or Die Time: The Small Window for Followup Autoresponder Marketing

2 Comments

I overheard a customer complaining recently that I was promoting a product too heavily.

After signing up for a free software trial, she was offended by the autoresponder sequence that followed.

It was too much, she felt bombarded, and found the experience off-putting.

(The autoresponder sequence contains 8 emails sent over 12 days. They deliver a lot of valuable information about how to get the most out of the software, plus offer a time-limited discount as incentive to buy.)

Some people love these emails. Some hate them.

While I understand both sides point of view, there’s a very good reason why I follow up so frequently in the first few days after someone signs up…

Because it works.

When Good Intentions Go Bad

As humans, our intentions are governed by the laws of physics and thermodynamics.

In other words, over time our intentions decay, slow down, wear out, grow cold and die.

We begin down a path with burning enthusiasm and excitement, but it doesn’t take long until we lose interest in the path.

Keeping Intentions Burning

To put this in a marketing context, when somebody visits your blog, trials your software, reads your sales letter, signs up to receive special offers - they do it with the best of intentions.

At that point, their interest in your product is at its maximum.

But every second that passes without them buying (or taking the next step, whatever that step is), their good intentions are atrophying - and they are growing cold and uninterested towards the idea that originally excited and enthused them.

It’s NOT because they no-longer want your product.

Usually it’s because life just gets in the way.

They have dry cleaning to pick up, a crying baby, a stressed spouse, mortgage repayments, a boss hounding them for an overdue project, a phone ringing, a pot of stew simmering on the stove, and a 9am meeting tomorrow morning.

They need you to remind them why they were interested in your product in the first place…

They need you to restoke their coals of desire…

They need you to “light a rocket beneath them”…

That’s IF you ever want to stand a chance of bringing them to the next step - the next point of decision - the sale.

If you don’t, your potential customer will atrophy, and your chances of success nosedive toward zero.

The Small Window for Followup Autoresponder Marketing

  • For email subscriptions, you have just a few minutes to get someone to double opt in before you lose them.
  • For software trials, you have just a few hours to get someone to install your software and begin using it before you lose them.
  • For sales, you have just a few days to get someone to buy before you lose them.

Outside of these brief periods, the majority of potential customers will not take action.

Your job is to look for reasons to communicate with potential customers inside these brief windows - before they atrophy - and keep those coals of desire hot within them.

Epilogue: What Happened To Our Friend?

So what happened to our friend, who complained that she was receiving too many emails?

Well, she bought.

In fact, she’d already bought.

After receiving an email reminder that our discounted price was expiring, she had decided the offer was too good to refuse and bought - despite her offense at receiving the email to begin with.

Would we have made the sale if we didn’t follow up so heavily?

Probably not, I think.

It appears it was a followup email (a reminder that the discounted price was expiring) that spurred action here.

In the end it was a pyrrhic victory - we lost a fan (at least in the short term) but made a sale - but this story reinforced why follow-up autoresponder marketing is necessary.

Popularity: 6%

→ 2 CommentsPosted to Categories: Internet Marketing Strategy · Marketing Case Studies

June 6th, 2010 · Brent Hodgson

The Power to Impress

4 Comments

Didn’t your mother ever tell you “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”‘!

Sadly, in today’s world, we have very little choice.

On an average day, we’re bombarded with 5,000 pieces of advertising - billboards, radio, television, logos, letters, emails, banners, PPC ads, circulars, flyers…;

We might have interractions with several hundred people;

And we’ll need to make thousands of decisions.

For us to function (let alone remain productive!) in society, we’ve learned to ignore most of the information we’re presented with, and make very quick judgements with very little information.

  • Judging a job applicant on a single page cover letter;
  • Judging a waitress by her brief greeting, and the soup that arrived late;
  • Judging a guy who pulls out in front of us in traffic;
  • Judging a whole company by a single support phone call or email;
  • Judging an offer by the headline;

We take a single interaction, and we magnify it.

Then we use this distorted, magnified perception to judge an entire person, product or company.

We DO judge books by their covers. Often we judge correctly, sometimes we judge wrong.

(In Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, this concept is called “Thin Slicing”.)

As leaders of marketing or customer service, we often forget that every customer we communicate with - no matter how short that communication is - is using that single interraction to judge us, our company and our products.

Just as we do, they’re taking these tiny interractions and magnifying them.

This means the odds of impressing customers are stacked against us.

One slip-up, one misunderstanding, one failed expectation - and we’re doomed.

It’s easy to impress if you have hours, days or weeks to “pile on the value” and make amends for mistakes (both past and present) - but most of the time we have just a few moments of their attention.

There are only two ways we have the power to impress, in just a few moments.

We need to:

  1. Surprise people, and;
  2. Surpass their expectations.

It’s so simple…

Every support enquiry, every marketing email, every offer, every blog post - think:

What do my customers expect?

Then, surprise them with more.

Imagine if your customers were constantly surprised and impressed by their interactions with you - and they magnified this feeling, and applied it to the rest of your business.

Imagine if your customers saw opening your emails as opening presents at Christmas time because of the surprises you left inside.

Imagine what the effects of this would be on your marketing in the short term, and the long term.

The best part is - this is not hard.

Tragically, most companies do marketing and customer service so poorly that customers expect very little.

So you’ll be shocked by how little it takes to surprise and surpass expectations, become “the good guys” in your industry, and turn your customers into rabid lifelong fans.

Popularity: 6%

→ 4 CommentsPosted to Categories: Customer Service

June 2nd, 2010 · Brent Hodgson

Who Are You Serving?

9 Comments

Good sales is just good service.

When you boil away any slick suits and used-car-salesman tactics, what you’re left with is simply serving people what they need and desire.

If we want to influence someone to say “yes” to us, we first need to convince them that our offering serves them well - better than any alternative.

The problem with sales is - everybody’s needs are different.

So before you can sell to someone, you need to work out how you can serve them.

If you want to make more product sales, you need to serve your prospects.

If you want to make repeat sales, you need to serve your customers.

If you want to sell through others, you need to serve your partners and affiliates.

Again, each group has distinct needs. The way you serve affiliates will be different to the way you serve prospects.

If we try to serve everyone the same, nobody really gets what they need, or even want.

If you’re building a product right now, and you’re expecting to get a foothold in a market by selling through affiliates, take a moment to ask them what they want and need from your product in order to promote your product most effectively. (Think about partnerships and synergies - how can your offering, together with your partners offering, broaden a market or create more sales for everyone involved?)

If you want to build relationships and secure life long sales from your current customers, ask what they want and need. (Listen to your customers. Do what you can to avoid ever disappointing them or letting them down - while working to pleasantly surprise them over and over - like their own personal fairy godmother.)

If you want to turn prospects into customers, find out about their needs. (What problems do they want you to solve? What do they need to see and hear before they trust you? What can you do to make your sales process easier to understand?)

Popularity: 6%

→ 9 CommentsPosted to Categories: Copywriting

May 7th, 2010 · Brent Hodgson

Outsourcing for Mega Profits

4 Comments

Tomorrow, I’m packing a bag full of clothes into the back of the electric blue Mini Cooper S, and traveling to a secluded cabin along the Great Ocean Road - with no phone or internet access - for a week-long vacation.

But on my trip, I’m taking something that I wished I had access to 5 years ago…

Why You Need To Know Marc Lindsay and Daniel Turner

I first came across Marc Lindsay and Daniel Turner in March 2008 at a private internet marketing event for 30-or-so people.

It was instantly clear that they had something incredible.

To give you an idea what they do today - their web empire includes several 7-figure per year businesses (yes - several businesses - each generating over $1,000,000+), 140 websites, over 100 “staff”, and an outsourcing bill of $70,000 per month (Think it’s a big bill? Take a moment to calculate their profit margins!)

But the thing that I like most about Marc and Daniel is that they run everything on systems.

This means they haven’t become “outsourcing managers” - having to chase-up contractors, review work, arrange deadlines and deliverables, etc

Instead, they “play” with new business ideas (and let their outsourced teams make-it-happen), or just enjoy spending their time however they choose.

The Outsource Method

I’ve been fortunate enough to have known Marc personally - and his advice has helped me get through several business impasses while we’ve been growing Noble Samurai.

But I never got their full systems - or their “how to” - when it came to how they created the outsourcing systems that now make them millions of dollars per year.

So when they put all of the information together and released it, I jumped on it (and will be taking it away with me this week to the secluded cabin near the Great Ocean Road to interrogate it.)

The course will sell for $995 - HOWEVER, they’ve launched it with a $1 introductory trial (with the full price being $297 [no monthly fees] if you choose to keep it.)

If you want to find out more, here’s my referrer link. (If you use this link, and choose to keep the product, I will receive a commission - which I will probably spend on my next overseas vacation.)

Alternatively, here’s a direct link that you can use. (I won’t see a cent from this one)

If you’re into outsourcing, or you’re sick of doing the jobs you hate - this is well worth the $1 it costs to take a look.

Brent

Popularity: 5%

→ 4 CommentsPosted to Categories: Outsourcing

October 11th, 2009 · Brent Hodgson

How To Write a Sales Letter

30 Comments

Let me be blunt for a moment - writing a killer sales letter that makes a ton of money takes time and effort. And it’s rare to hit a “home run” on your first attempt.

The best copywriters I know - they’re the best because they do it so often - so don’t be discouraged if you find it particularly difficult on your first attempt.

Over time, it starts to come naturally - as if it’s part of your DNA, or that it’s just like breathing or walking.

But when you’re just beginning, there are a few simple steps you can take to make copywriting a sales letter a much easier task, and get a much better result from your sales letters.

Step #1: Preparation Matters

Preparation is really the key to writing a great sales letter. And the fact is, 95% of the effort you will put into a sales letter happens in the preparation stage.

It’s not uncommon for top copywriters to spend several weeks preparing to write a sales letter, and just a few days writing.

So how do you prepare?

Well, the first thing that you can do is to get inspiration.

Look around in your industry, and beyond, for examples of written advertisements. Read as much as you can, and save the ads that you find particularly persuasive.

Next, copy them… word-for-word.

I know, it sounds tedious, but the best way to write great sales letters is by writing great sales letters.

Take the work of the naturals - Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy, John Carlton, Harlan Kilstein - and copy it until it becomes a part of you.

Don’t believe me?

Then write a headline of your own… Then copy out 50 headlines from the pro’s… then go back and write another headline of your own.

Is the second one better than the first?

You’d better believe it!

There’s no better way to get your mind thinking about sales copy.

But I’ve got to be realistic here - most people who are reading this won’t bother spending the time on this.

They’ll think it’s boring, tedious, a waste of time - so they’ll jump straight into writing their own sales copy.

For these people, I’m going to throw you a lifeline next so that you don’t waste your time writing junk - that the sales copy that you write has at least a reasonable chance of making a buck.

Step #2: Work out who you’re writing to.

We’re still in the preparation phase right now…

Grab a pen and paper, and write down the answers to these two questions:

  1. Who am I writing to?, and;
  2. What do I want them to say yes to?

You might be selling a cool piece of site-promotion software to bloggers - so the answers to these questions might be “Bloggers who own their own blog”, and “Will you buy this software for $149?”

The more specific that you can be in your “Who am I writing to?” answer, the more targeted your sales copy will be, and the more of those people will buy.

Step #3: Work Out What You’re REALLY Selling

A wise marketer once said “Sell the sizzle, not the steak!”

People don’t buy “steaks”.

They buy the juicy, tender, sizzling steak that smells *mmmmm* good, and practically melts in your mouth - that’s what people buy.

It’s the experience of eating a steak - not the idea of a rough-cut chunk of bovine flesh - that sells.

Chances are you’re not selling steak though - so we need to find the juicy, tender, meaty, filling, mouth-watering parts of your product or service for your sales letter.

The easiest way to do this is to take out several sheets of paper, and start writing a long list of EVERY feature that a customer might experience when they’re buying your product… Everything from “no interest finance” to “batteries are included” to “12 month guarantee on all parts and labour” to “made from high-tensile polycarbonate” to “free delivery”

Be as detailed as you can - mention anything and everything (even if it’s not a particularly valuable feature… even if it’s a defect!)

Step #4: Why Should I Care About That?

Don’t assume that your customer knows why they need your weatherstripping feature, or your high-tensile polycarbonate feature, or your no interest finance feature, free delivery service, or whatever.

Spell it out for them!

Beside each feature you have written down, write the benefits of this feature.

e.g. “No interest finance - saves $1,000’s off the lifetime cost of purchase, means you can afford to buy now..” etc

Here’s a few more examples:

  • Free shipping on all orders - means there is nothing extra to pay, you don’t have to drive to the store to pick it up yourself, you can make small orders…
  • High-tensile polycarbonate coating - protects the widget for 25 years so that you’ll never need to replace it, allows the widget to operate under much higher temperatures than normal, prevents dangerous widget-shattering incidents…
  • Teflon-coated bull-bar - protects you and your family from automobile accidents, and means that roadkill just slides right off…

You get the idea…

Step #4: Try Turning Them into Feature-Benefit Bullets

A feature-benefit bullet is a ol’ copywriting trick that just works ridiculously well.

Here’s the structure of a feature-benefit bullet:

  • Feature Benefit

OR, the reverse feature-benefit bullet (to mix things up a bit, and make for more interesting reading:

  • Benefit Feature

See what I did there? It’s not complicated at all!

Let’s use some examples:

  • Free Shipping on All Orders Means You Save Money, With Nothing Extra To Pay!
  • High-Tensile Polycarbonate Coating Protects Your Widget for Life, Saving You Money!

And the reversal:

  • Save Money on All Orders with Free Shipping
  • Save Money on Widget Replacement with our High-Tensile Polycarbonate Coating

Easy, huh?

Here’s a tip: It’s EASIEST if you go find about 50-100 feature-benefit points from other convincing sales letters, and copy them down one-by-one before you begin.

Once you’re done copywriting your feature-benefit bullets for your sales letter, put them aside and forget about them. We’ll come back later.

Step #5: Why should the customer care?

Have you forgotten about the product yet? Good!

I want you to think about the customer now.

Go back to the note that you wrote in Step #2 - who are they?

Put yourself in their shoes, and then answer two more questions:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Why should I care?

(Answer them as if you are the customer)

These can be difficult questions to answer, so let me help you here…

Every product solves problems.

We buy a sandwich because we have a hunger problem. We hire a bookkeeper because we have an accounting problem. We read a guide on copywriting because we have a copywriting problem… (Or maybe you’re just filling in time here, and you have a spare time problem.)

Find the biggest problem that the product solves, and the biggest benefit that it provides, and you have your answers to these questions.

In most cases, the strongest problems that a product solves are around emotional appeals:

  • Make Money / avoid losing money;
  • Avoid painful (physical, emotional or mental) experiences;
  • Save Time;
  • Have Fun / enjoy times of leisure;
  • Live in greater comfort and security;
  • Become more sexually attractive to others;
  • Become more socially popular;
  • Become more attractive;
  • Be envied by others;
  • Gain Power or Status;
  • Access something of Exclusivity;

Step #6: Only the Strong Survive

Great work so far! You’re nearly there!

You probably feel like you have more bullets now than Rambo - and in a way, you’re right. You want as much ammunition as it takes in your sales letter to get customers to say “Yes!”…

…But now, it’s time to take the big guns, and leave the small guns at home…

This is simple - go through your lists and circle only the strongest feature-benefit bullets, the strongest appeals, the biggest problems your product solves, and the most convincing arguments.

One of these should be your primary appeal - the #1 reason someone should buy your product.

The rest, you’ll simply touch on in your sales copy.

Step #7: Start Writing

Get out your pen and paper (or computer, however you write best), and begin your sales letter.

Tip: Don’t waste your time (and the reader’s) telling stories - get straight to the point.

Here’s an opening line template you can tweak for your own use:

“If you suffer from {problem that your product solves}, and would like to {solution that your product provides}, {Productname} might be the best solution for you.”

Step #8: Complete the Picture

The opening line is the hardest. Once you’ve written that, the rest of the sales letter flows.

Use short, sharp paragraphs of 3-5 lines, and write to the reader on their level.

The structure of your sales letter should be along these lines:

  1. Headline (the last thing you write)
  2. Opening paragraph
  3. Talk about how bad the problem is that your product solves
  4. Talk about it is about the problem that’s really bad
  5. Talk about it is about the problem that’s really Really bad
  6. Talk about it is about the problem that’s really Really REALLY bad
  7. Thankfully, there’s a solution!
  8. Offer the solution: Your product
  9. In what ways does your product solve the problem?
  10. What other valuable things does your product also do? (Include your feature-benefit bullets here - they’re the ammo that makes someone buy)
  11. What is your product valued at?
  12. Make a genuine time-limited offer (discount/special)
  13. Offer a guarantee
  14. Remind them why the offer is valuable, then remind them that it’s time-limited.

Step #9: Break Up The Text with Sub-Headings

We’re nearly there!

Looking over your sales letter, suddenly it feels like you’re drowning in a sea of text, right?

It’s time to add something called “eye relief” - little points that make it easy for someone to read your sales copy.

Each sub-head should be short, 1-2 lines, and relevant to what you’re writing about.

For example, to tie in with the sections from the sales letter template above, your sub-headings that you write for sections #3-#14 might be about:

  • 3. What is the problem, and why does it suck?
  • 4. What is really bad about the problem?
  • 5. What is even worse about the problem?
  • 6. What is the worst thing about the problem?
  • 7. Sum-up the problem as if it’s insurmountable
  • 8. “{Product Name} Solves All Of This and More!”
  • 9. “Here’s How {Produt Name} Works To Solve All Of These Problems For You…”
  • 10. “Plus, {Product Name} Does So Much More!”
  • 11. “OK - So What Does {Product Name Cost}?”
  • 12. “Limited Time Offer: Expires On {Date}”
  • 13. “100% Satisfaction Guarantee”
  • 14. “Remember: You Only Have Until {Date} To Secure {Product Name} at a discount and {solve} {#1 problem} forever!”

Step #10: Write Your Headline

This is where it’s handy to have completed Step #1, and copied down a few dozen headlines from the pro’s…

The easiest way to write a great headline for your product is to re-write existing great headlines for other products, and tweak them so that they suit your product.

A reliable template for headlines is simply:

“How You Can {Solve Major Problem OR Receive Major Benefit} {Very Fast OR Very Easily}…”

e.g.

“How You Can Lose 20 Pounds Overnight, While You Sleep”

A headline should be relevant, straight to the point, and attention-grabbing.

Write dozens, and pick the best one.

Step #11: Test Test Test!

As I mentioned at the start of this article, it’s almost impossible to hit a home run every time…

…But it IS possible to turn even the least successful sales letter into a winner with consistent testing.

It’s also one of the most valuable actions that you can perform as a copywriter - it will help you to see exactly how to improve your copy in the future, and give you far better results.

Split testing and multivariate testing are your friends.

Popularity: 14%

→ 30 CommentsPosted to Categories: Copywriting

December 31st, 2008 · Brent Hodgson

Market Samurai

19 Comments

It’s been an incredible few months since I last had a chance to blog.

In that time, I’ve been working to release Market Samurai - an all-in-one internet marketing software package.

Market Samurai is the Swiss Army Knife of internet marketing - it does market research, keyword analysis, SEO analysis, fetching and analysing content, building backlinks - and even more features are in development.

If you haven’t played with it yet, you can download a free trial copy from the Market Samurai web-site.

The past 10 weeks in particular have been an incredibly big period - not just for the release of Market Samurai, but for the team.

For several weeks, the Noble Samurai team was working huge rotating shifts (including some 37 hour days) just to manage the three launches.

The first, a limited “alpha” launch to the Immediate Edge. The second, a “private beta” launch to the 30 Day Challenge. And the final, a “public beta” to the general public.

It’s encouraging to see that Market Samurai is already proving itself “in the field” - even just a few weeks after launch.

Obviously with so many automated features, it’s significantly cutting the time spent on critical internet marketing tasks - but it’s also creating significantly better results too.

Already, 10,000’s of people have downloaded their copy of Market Samurai, and around 40% have upgraded to the full [paid] version - a phenomenal conversion rate, and a testament to what it does.

Here’s an example…

Within hours of setting up their first blog ever (on a brand-new domain), we had complete internet marketing “newbies” ranked on the first page of Google - for real keywords with real traffic and real customers!

Here are just a few of their results (taken from the 30 Day Challenge forums)…

#2 ranking in Google after 2 hours, #1 within 12 hours, #5 ranking after 2 hours, #1 & 2 (two listings for the same keyword) within 1 hour, #15 ranking after 30 mins, #1 in 16 hours, #5 after 5 hours 42 minutes, #7 after 9 hours, #5 after 4 hours, #4 after 8 hours, #1 after 13 hours, #3 after 6 hours, #4 after 5 hours, #1 after 5 hours, #1 after 4.5 hours, #1 in 15 hours, #3 after 5 days, #6 after 5 days, #3 after 16 hours, #3 after 6 hours, #1 ranking after 24 hours, #3 & 4 after 2 hours (rising to a double-listing at #2 & 3 shortly after), #1 overnight, #2 in 6.5 hours… etc, etc, etc…

It gives me a “warm fuzzy feeling” to see these types of results. ;)

Anyway, if you haven’t had a play of Market Samurai yet, go download a free trial. It really is the bees-knees - the kind of software you wish you had whenever you have to go without it.

Popularity: 8%

→ 19 CommentsPosted to Categories: Internet Marketing · Marketing Case Studies · Personal

October 10th, 2008 · Brent Hodgson

Why Cutting Your Price means Slitting Your Throat!

15 Comments

Last week, I received an email from a potential internet marketing consulting client.

Without wanting to give too much away about them, they sell a series of small low-cost items (most priced under $25) in a market where their key online competitors sell similar items for hundreds of dollars.

You’d think with such a compelling price-point, making sales online would be a breeze!

After all, everyone wants a bargain!

But the truth was they weren’t making money.

Yes, they had a compelling product - but they couldn’t afford to get word out, and attract traffic to their website.

So how do you make this business work?

The first thing the client wanted me to do was to help them to make money out of Adwords.

“Fantastic!” I thought - this is where I start my work with most clients.

Here’s what I did:

The first thing I looked at was the Adwords Traffic Estimator tool. It showed that there were roughly 1,000 searches per day around their core keywords, assuming they had a #1 ad position…

…But, in order to obtain #1 position for these keywords, they would need to bid around $1 per click.

With around $10 margin per item, this was going to be unprofitable!

They would need to receive a minimum 10% sales conversion rate in order to make this profitable - incredibly high considering 0.05% (half of one-percent) is generally a good sales conversion rate online.

Do the maths: 0.05% x $25.00 = $0.125

…The maximum they could profitably afford to pay per click was around 12 cents per click - and at these figures, they could only expect around 25 clicks per day…

…They would receive, on average, one sale every 8 days…

…That’s 45 sales per year…

…At around $10 profit per item, this is $450 per year in sales…

Sure, I could make their Adwords profitable by bidding $0.12 per click - but it wouldn’t make their business “work”.

The issue wasn’t their web-site…

They had one of the best designed shopping-cart based web-sites I have ever seen! (In fact, it had a brilliant design concept - categorising items visually around appearance and style!)

The issue wasn’t their Adwords account…

Sure, their Adwords account wasn’t profitable… But it wasn’t Adwords’ fault - there was only a limited amount of traffic, and it was too expensive to capture enough of it

The issue wasn’t their marketing…

They were doing a lot of good things in their marketing…

The issue wasn’t the size of their market…

Based purely on Adwords CPC’s and traffic estimates, the traffic in their market was worth around $1,100 per day… That’s over $400,000 in Adwords - before you even look at getting traffic from affiliates and SEO.

The issue was simple:

The issue was their product! Put simply, their product was TOO CHEAP to compete online.

Their value per visitor, the maximum that they could afford to pay per visitor, was around the $0.12 mark. It was TOO LOW to make any money in their market.

They needed to “control the high-ground” of marketing - they needed their ads to be in the top positions - but with just $0.12 in their war-chest (compared to the $1.10 that their competitors could afford to bid) they couldn’t afford to out-bid the other guy.

With so little profit in their product, they were stuck!

They couldn’t afford to invest in SEO, give away any sort of affiliate commission, or even profitably afford to pay for marketing consulting!

This is why you cannot afford to compete on price when marketing online… because the guy who can afford to pay more for the top positions in Adwords, who can afford to pay for the best SEO, who can afford to pay more in affiliate commissions - they will beat you every time.

Sadly, I had to turn this potential client away because I knew I couldn’t help them to make money if they were competing at the low end of the market..

But if you’re reading this, I DO want to help you.

Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing a lot about pricing strategy…

Finding the right price point for your product is something that MOST online marketers don’t understand - but it means the difference between a profitable product, and a dud.

I’m going to show you market testing strategies for finding profitable price points, and why it’s more important to work out what you’re going to sell the product for - before you work out what you’re going to sell.

If you haven’t already, make sure you’re subscribed to my blog via email (by entering your name and email address in the box under my pretty picture ;)). Some of the strategies I’ll share will you were developed as part of the campaign I ran that made $570,000 in 37 minutes - you won’t want to miss them.

Popularity: 8%

→ 15 CommentsPosted to Categories: Internet Marketing Strategy

June 16th, 2008 · Brent Hodgson

Are The Gurus Out To Help You, Or Just Make Profits?

12 Comments

Have the “Gurus” lost touch with the joe-average internet marketer?

Not all of them, but MOST of them…

Do they realise how much work it takes to actually start an internet business anymore?

Sometimes I wonder about this when I read about the latest “Get Rich Quick” software they’ve developed, and wonder how it could possibly deliver any legitimate value to any start-up internet business owner.

I wonder whether most of the gurus remember what it took to start their business, or have an appreciation of how the market has changed since their business hit critical mass.

Let’s face it - they don’t need to know these things.

Once you have a big list, and a rapport with that list, it’s all-over-red-rover!

You can sell other people’s products on affiliate commissions, and still make a killing.

You can live off the “Launch Spikes”…

(In fact, at a certain point you don’t even need to do that. Like Mark Joyner, you can simply drift off and enjoy retirement… which makes you wonder why the big “gurus” are still in the market?)

But for the rest of us - we need to carve out an internet business that is designed for today’s internet market - by ourselves…

And as I’ve said over and over again, building a business is hard work.

The good news is there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually you hit “critical mass”.

You literally end up with a money-making machine.

It’s just building that machine that’s the hard part.

When I was still a young pup (er, younger pup… starting 6 years ago…), I worked in a small team to build an online business from practically nothing into one of these “lean, mean money-making machines”.

It took 2 people 2 years part-time work to get it to the “critical mass” stage.

It was part-time work because half the time was spent building the business, half the time was spent generating the cash using another business so that we could afford to pay ourselves (peanuts) to work on the website. (At the time I was taking home around $8.50 per hour… I had to work for an hour to earn my bus ticket to work - I couldn’t afford to drive.)

It was damn hard work too.

Not all of it was rewarding either…

We promised to send subscribers a monthly newsletter…

When you have a 60,000 person database, a monthly newsletter becomes a licence to make money. (3 years later when we’d built the business to this size, we would joke that the “Send Newsletter” button was the “Make Money” button.)

But when you’re sending a newsletter to 150 people, and still have a 1% conversion rate, it hardly seems worth it.

I wonder - if most of the gurus had to start again, without their databases, finances or contacts - could they do it?

Could they break into a new market?

Do they really understand what it takes to become a success, today?

Or have they lost touch, and they’re peddling concepts that used to work yesterday?

Personally, I’m more inclined to trust a guru who is actively out there, building online businesses that have yet to reach maturity… Or if they’re truly on the cutting-edge of their marketspace.

There are a few I do trust that I can think of off the top of my head - James Brausch is one (a “guru” who is building his own business before your eyes), John Reese is another (the hardest working internet marketer in the business), Ed Dale (because his “Lab” researchers are constantly trialling new concepts in new markets).

That’s not to say I don’t believe other “gurus” have nothing to offer - just I often wonder if they’re genuinely wanting to help, or if they’re just out for the quick buck from product launches…

What are your thoughts?

Who do you trust to help YOU in the marketplace, not just make a quick buck on launch commissions?

Brent

Popularity: 9%

→ 12 CommentsPosted to Categories: Personal

May 7th, 2008 · Brent Hodgson