When your sales page isn’t converting the way you need it to, it doesn’t just hurt your bottom line – it can cripple your confidence as a writer and make you doubt your future as a marketer.
On top of that, the frustration of having to rewrite underperforming copy can make copywriting seem like a tedious chore instead of the enjoyable exercise in persuasion it’s meant to be.
Fortunately, there are simple (but powerful) ways to write highly effective copy the first time – copy that gets readers emotionally invested and ready to click that “Add to Cart” button.
Read the next few paragraphs, and you’ll have a step-by-step, can’t miss foundation that will make your next sales letter a whole lot easier to write.
1. Get in touch with the pain your reader brings to the table
Features aren’t what sell your product – solution-oriented benefits are. You know, the kind of things that say “That thing that’s keeping you up at night? This will fix it.” Before you even begin to try and impress your readers with how incredible your offer is, you’ve got to establish situational relevance with them.
You absolutely must get yourself in tune with the pain points that are bringing them to a buying decision. Why are they searching for the kind of thing you’re writing about? What’s holding them back, causing them stress, or making them break out into a cold sweat?
Take the time to step into your future customer’s shoes and get a sense of what they’re feeling. What are the most important pain points that they care about, the ones that make them say “If only this could be taken care of, I’d buy that solution in a heartbeat?”
Then you can begin framing your product not as “impressive,” but as “the thing that makes their pain go away.”
2. Understand their frustration with “so far” and “out there.”
Chances are, your reader has tried to find a solution on their own. They may have tried everything and seen no meaningful result – or worse yet, they could have seen their efforts blow up in their face. This is the “so far” element you have to look into (and if you’ve already stepped into your customer’s shoes, you’ll probably have an idea of how this could play out).
This is your chance to think about how your product or service can work for them, even if they’ve failed “so far.” Consider how you’re going to position what you’re selling as a way to make sure those mistakes don’t happen in the past. This time, it’s different. Why? It’s your job to figure that out and express it.
The same goes for the “out there.” Your customers may be feeling frustrated that others have it easier in terms of having this problem solved, because other people are smarter, or more established, or naturally have the deck stacked in their favor. There’s a lot of “if only I had what they have …” thinking going on in your customer’s head, and if you can demonstrate how your offer closes the gap, then you’re halfway to the sale.
3. Step them into their “Dream Situation”
Once your reader understands that your offering might just be what helps them get away from their pain and frustration, it’s time to take them a step further. Envision what your customer’s perfect outcome would look like as they use your product or service. What problems go away? What new opportunities appear? What changes happen in their life?
People don’t buy products – they buy outcomes. Look closely at the outcomes that your offer can produce for your customers and help them see themselves there. Phrases like “Imagine if …” and “Just think of when …” contain powerful words.
Let them taste their future, and craft your sentences in such a way that they can immerse themselves in the feeling of being there. When you do this part right, you’ve helped them vividly see how your solution can move them away from pain and frustration and toward their desired outcome.
4. Close the deal with an “Ideal Solution”
By this time your reader is excited at the prospect of making their outcome happen – and now’s your chance to position your product as a slam-dunk solution. This is where you bring the features of your offer into play, stepping them through the specifics of why what you’re offering is perfectly suited to helping them achieve that desired outcome.
Maybe it’s the format you’re delivering it in – audio, video and PDFs are a great way to guarantee hitting the top learning modalities customers want. Maybe there’s one-on-one consulting tied into the offer, or a Third Tribe-style online community … or maybe it’s all of this.
Since your customer’s shoes are still on, think about how your he or she would view the ideal delivery method of your solution. Ask yourself what would make it easier for a customer to tap into the power of your offer, and then make sure it’s worked into your product or service.
Once you’ve done that, all that’s left is communicating just how well-suited your offer is to easing their pain, ending their frustration, and helping them finally get closer to their dream situation.
Use these four steps to make your next sales letter much more powerful
There’s no denying the power of a solid headline and a killer set of opening paragraphs. But the source of that power comes from these four elements – wrap them into the headlines and teaser text at the beginning of your sales letter, and your chances of having readers stick with you to the end go through the roof.
Need proof? No you don’t – because I worked these four steps into the introduction of this very post … and you’re still here.
The question is, where will these four steps take you next. Take a moment in the comments to share which of these points resonated with you the most, and how you can use them to make your next offer more enticing than ever.
Reader Comments (59)
Josh Garcia says
#1 & #3 is where I see folks mess it up. I’ve always been in sales and the one thing that is important is identifying the pain and then showing how you are going to take the pain away. I see that the components in a sales letter is no different. Thanks for breaking it down like this.
Chat with you later…
Yea, I agree with your points but resonate with #3 the most. I know, even when I write articles, I sometimes fail to illustrate what I know to be my readers’ dream scenario.
What I’ve learned to do nowadays is ASK QUESTIONS because it’s really the only way you will know what your people want. Ask, Engage, and Provide.
Ben Congleton says
Great Article, I definitely could use some of your advice on our sales page :-). (Sending it over to our design department now).
JC, I completely agree with your “Ask, Engage, Provide” model. But think there is definitely room for a human element in the process. (i.e. it’s not just copyrighting)
Talking to your customers can help you better understand what’s going through their heads Have you tried engaging with your customers on your website?
I’ve been working on a product called Olark, (http://www.olark.com) that let’s your customers chat with you in realtime in your sales funnel (i.e. make sure those high value customers don’t leave if they run into an issue when they are about to buy).
I’d be super interested in knowing how you guys feel about realtime engagement.
I have never tried writing sale letter but it seems very challenging I guess. Breaking down a single point like this help us not missing any important components 🙂
I like this part the best “establish situational relevance”. Doh! Yes they came to your page looking for…. something. Show them that you are relevant to solving their problem first before anything else. John Caples says that the appeal of an Ad is the most important thing to consider first – i.e. relevance.
But identifying the ‘pain’ that they are trying to solve comes a very close second.
I am going to tweet this article out to my friends and bookmark it for future reference.
Awesome points you made here and sure I am going to try it for making my next sales.Hope it works to make my customer purchase.
Thanks For The Awesome Points
From a home business point of view, Number 3 is definitely the hardest for me- I feel like I am promising prospects a better life when I know it really all depends on THEM, not me. This is speaking of the recruiting side of course…the services themselves (health plans) are MUCH easier to sell….
As far as my blogging services, not so hard to sell…………….
James Taylor says
Sales page / letter / pitch tips like these are applicable across the board, no matter what your desired outcome is – for a potential client to buy your product, service, or sign up for your e-mail newsletter.
My blog readers are amateur photographers making the transition to paid professionals. A short example of applying these tips to their sales copy might result in…
How long has it been since your last family photo?
Because of cost and trying to find the time, sometimes years can go by without making a proper record of your family as it grows and matures. It seems like your friends are always posting great photos to their Facebook walls, but from very expensive boutique photographers. Sometimes it feels like you have to be rich to get great, stylish family photos done.
What you need is no-risk, affordable, buy-what-you-love service from a professional photographer with experience, personality, and style.
Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of the guilt of not having recent family photos to share? Wouldn’t it be great to pay a fraction of the cost of what your friends are paying?
With our digital photo packages, no session fees, and no minimum order, we’re solving all the family photo problems you’ve faced up to now.
Just wait ’till you see the glowing comments friends and family will make when you post your own professionally-done family photos. The pride you will feel of showing off your beautiful family. (And the grin you’ll be wearing when your friends ask what you paid!)”
Not brilliant prose, but compared to the lonely and demotivating “Call for prices” line I see on most photographers’ web sites, just about anything is better than nothing.
With the coming of the digital age of photography, consumers have more options than ever – including the especially attractive option of just buying a good camera and doing photos themselves.
Photographers, like many others affected by the digital age, have to adapt and rely on their business and marketing skills – not just their artistic talent – to pay the bills.
Thanks for another great article Brian!
James Taylor says
My apologies! Just saw this was posted by Dave. Great article Dave!
Dave Navarro says
No problem, James.
This balances out a previous post’s comment, where someone said “Dave, you’ve got a great blog here!”
Yo Le says
Number 3, painting the vision and that “dream situation” is really what resonated with me the most because I’m very much a visual person. If I don’t see something solving a problem… I tend to write it off.
People are their own defense against their thoughts. If you get them to see themselves getting the desired outcome with your product or service, it’s pretty difficult for them to argue with that.
Thanks for the Phenomenal post!
Did we talk last night Dave? This is no B.S.. Right now I am writing content for my sales page, when I received notice of this post.
The post timing is perfect!
I must say, you make it sound like writing about benefits is easy.
Exposing benefits without sounding like a cheesy sales pitch is a lot harder than listing features. I’ve been struggling to come up with the right right words, laid out in the right order to expose those benefits.
I’m starting over, only this time I’ll be using this post as my guide. Thanks for being right on time and sharing your tips.
Vince Robisch says
Great post! I think people start to squirm on #4. My thought would be:
“If you don’t think you offer the ideal solution to their problem, maybe you need to reconsider the solution.” Potential customers need to know what they are supposed to do next in order to solve their problem. This is not the step to leave them with any ambiguity. Thanks again Dave.
P.S. If you haven’t used Dave’s free worksheets, get them now!!!
Great way to sell products in person, as well as in a sales piece, Dave.
I think Copyblogger needs more sales-ish related articles, because it’s hard to write sales pieces if you can’t sell.
Most great salespeople can spot great sales copy.
Most poor salespeople only think they write great sales copy.
Brian Clark says
Mike, you’re right of course. To me, they’re the same thing, just the context and presentation changes. It’s still about finding the story they want (need) to hear.
And young Mr. Navarro is a salesman at heart and it shows in everything he writes … much like yourself 😉
BTW – you need a job? I got an opening for someone with your mad storytellin’ skillz!
Shane Arthur says
@Mike: I’d love to see a “Sigers Sales Series” here. Good idea.
Although I appreciate the pimpin’, young fella, you gotta take into consideration that the fine folks here have an agenda of their own and that they just weren’t put here for my own selfish desires 😉
Brian Clark says
Ah come one… you owe us a series. 😉
Well, sir, if you’d not mind, I actually have one that would play nicely here, I think.
I’ll email you the “skeleton” of the thought/idea.
If I don’t get a reply, I’ll sic Shane on ya 😉
John Zajaros says
I am always telling the people I work with to sell the sizzle not the steak. They invariably laugh until I walk them through what I mean. You are exactly right! You have to take them from feeling and reliving their pain to the happy ending…and they have to see it! And then, ask for the order.
One other thing that helps is to use the business card trick. By that, what I mean is you sum up your proposal on that back of a business card and make it remarkable. If you can make it clear, concise, and remarkable…you have a great shot at a close.
Thanks for a great article!
This post couldn’t have been timed better for me, either.
NOW I can see that using these specific steps are crucial for writing any copy with a call to action.
Thanks for laying it out clearly !
Mary E. Ulrich says
Great article Dave.
I’m working on some products to sell and then I’m going down this list step-by-step. Thanks.
Dave…Very solid suggestions
My experience also tells me we live in a very fast paced “Visual World.” Users are looking for someting quick to keep them on a page. If they lose attention in the first 5 seconds – they’re gone. I believe almost as important as your four step process are the headlines utilized on any page, article or promotion. Your Post did a great job with both.
Unless users get past the headlines, they’ll never get to the content.
El Edwards says
Headlines and sub headings are important of course but if you tell a compelling story there is absolutely no way your people are going to be walking away after five seconds. Headlines will get their attention but great story telling will keep them reading right to the very end.
Sonia Simone says
Woot, it always makes me happy when we run a Dave Navarro post. 🙂
I think a lot of folks shy away from the pain & frustration steps. Too many copywriters (or, more often, their clients) are afraid of the darker side of the emotional spectrum. But you can’t solve their problem if you’re afraid to bring up their problem.
Dave Navarro says
High praise – and much appreciated.
You’ve got me blushing. Or maybe it’s the second bottle of Sapporro. Either way, glad to be back. 🙂
Denny Sugar says
Well said Dave, so many people forget (or don’t have) basic selling skills. Tell the story in print, same emotional buttons.
Hippy Hop says
You had outlined the elements of what should be a good copy sales letter. But the thing is, it is difficult to write it the way people can think and buy the product. The elements are easy to understand but far more hard to implement for a person that is not so keen on writing.
Sure, it’s not an easy task by any means. But one thing you could do is to print off a sales letter you think is really great and then just mimic the way it’s written.
For every line you see, construct a similar line that explains the product or idea you’re promoting.
Keep doing this for each section/paragraph, each hook, each one-liner, etc.
then analyze both of them. See what you could make better and see what stands out about each of them.
you could also have someone else read what you’ve written to get their input.
Just some ideas.
El Edwards says
If a person is ‘not so keen on writing’ then getting some outside help is going to be really important because the only way to get better at this stuff is to practice. Why waste time practicing something you’re not keen on?
I’m not so keen on ironing. That’s why my other half does his own shirts. 😉
When creating copy online sales pieces – how do you know when you have written enough or too much. I get so turned off by LONG sales blurbs. Almost to the point I don’t believe or buy anything if the author can’t get to the point. Am I unusual or do some people move through the four stages faster than others. I just think the longer the sales piece goes the more I feel like it is crap. I look forward to your thoughts.
Glendon Cameron says
Great piece! I was actually going to redo my testimonial page it is amazing what a few keyword changes will accomplish! People buy benefits not features- end the pain is the name of the game!
Hashim Warren says
It’s hard for me to write the “pain and frustration” part.
Why? Because so many sales people misunderstand my pain and frustration.
Yes, I want to start my own business, but no I don’t hate my job. Actually, I have the coolest day job in the world!
And yes, I’ll pay for advice and education, but no I’m not mad that successful people are holding secrets away from me.
Most sales letters I read seem to treat their prospects like hopeless schulbs.
Sonia Simone knows how much I like what she taught about the “control” trigger. If I can promise my customer more control by using my stuff, it feels a lot more empowering to me.
Timothy Barnes, CLU says
I’m a health insurance agent and have already gotten notice that my commissions will be cut in 2011. I need to find a way to offset that loss of commission. I am writing a study guide to help people prepare for the TX Life & Health insurance license exam. Your article has some fine tips for someone like me but I need even more basic technological knowledge. I need to know how to set up a link inside a blog to allow people to purchase & download the study guide on line. I know its is possible. I’ve seen it on other blogs. I just do not know how to do it. Is there a place on the web I can find instructions to do this?
El Edwards says
Seriously? Do you have a Word Press blog? Start here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Introduction_to_Blogging and you’ll find loads of links in the menu to stuff that will help you.
Right on Dave. I think it is all about empathy. It is all about knowing who you are talking to and understanding what motivates them.
The better you understand your customer, the easier it will be for you to tailor your solution so they buy.
Shawn McConnell says
If you are going to try and sell a new method of doing things you need to create a disconnect with the old way of doing things.
Using emotion will help reinforce the effect, go for what counts, if your product saves time write about the freedom it provides… so on and so forth
You know, Dave, you just made sales page writing easy to understand, AND in one post. Mostly it was from the way you guided us through the process, like John Z. said he does in person. That makes more sense now. Thank you!
btw – I am working through your workbooks from your Launch Coach site. It is so easy going through them. You know how to stretch people toward the next level.
Dave Navarro says
Glad you’re enjoying the workbooks. I try to keep it practical – I don’t have time for anything else!
Andy Richards says
Great article. It seems to me the difference between average selling and great selling is in the philosophy of the seller. One says “I want to sell you something” the other says “I want to solve your problem”.
Number #3 and number #4 are very important as most of readers love “last minute” deal 🙂
Aprill Allen says
This is timely. Very timely indeed. I have a sales email to write this week for a piece of capital equipment that improves work safety and increases productivity. All their attempts at sales flyers before, are ‘features, features, features’. There’s no emphasis on the pain that this equipment *does* solve.
Thanks for keeping me focussed on what I need to do to make my version of this sales email lead to more conversions.
Stuart McMinigal says
Nice list, I am in the early stages of launching a product. Using this list will be of a great help to achieving the best from my sales page.
Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire says
That was most-excellent. I have never hear number 2 phrased so well before.
Using your own product as a way to position yourself as unique in your market is super-critical. By taking the things that are already “out there” and the activities that the customer has done “so far,” you can instantly position your business in a totally new way.
I am definitely going to steal (I mean borrow) this idea for my own client work. Thank you loads!
The Underdog Millionaire
Yeah,, it is true,, in my website i focus to tell what is the real problem face by the client and make an explaination about the solution we offer.
We really do aggree with the #1 tips,,
Dave Wilson says
Gets us back to one of the most important elements of copywriting: knowing your audience.
The problem/pain connection has been very nicely drummed into Copyblogger readers minds [thanks Sonia].
I was particularly taken with point 3 … moving them into their dream situation.
That’s an area [as well as point 4] I will concentrate on when I’m creating my sales copy.
The 4 points are also a nice process for writing a post … and it could include stories of how myself and other people dealt with the problem/s.
Always a treat reading these articles … and I have nearly as much fun reading the comments. Always a nugget of wisdom from t he crowd.
Dan Toombs says
Great and inspiring post. Step three has made the biggest impact on me and will change the way I write letters and blog posts. My business sells promotional merchandise so it will be easy to implement this. Putting into words how my customers’ dream trade show stand will look or how their boardroom can be decorated with promotional items will make my writing much more powerful and ultimately give my customers a better service.
Thanks Dave – great post!
I especially like the concept of helping the reader envision their perfect outcome. Visualization is such a crucial piece – it’s important to show how your product or service can ease their pain, but taking that next step to see and feel what it’ll be like when they’re “pain-free” is really the key. I’m working on that myself, in my 3-dimensional life!
Eddie Gear says
Thanks for writing this article. I now get some insights into building sales pages and the things i need to consider while building one specially when im selling a product.
Jim Kovats says
Thanks for the article. The information is very well presented.
I would just add one more step in your process. Step 5 “Ask for the Sale.”
You’ve invested time opening the reader’s “emotional” wound again, pouring in the salt and then telling them you have the solution to their pain… Now, just tell them you have the easy, risk-free solution to solve their problem.
(Dave, I’m sure you knew this and might have assumed that we all know this critical step.)
Thanks for your post. I will definitely re-examine my sales pages to ensure I have all steps covered.
Oliver Kyle says
Really enjoyed reading this post and you brought up some really interesting points. Feel the key to really appealing to your audience is to make them see themselves using the product and believing in the fact that they need it. This ties in well with your comment about helping the reader envision their perfect outcome.
Lora Lee says
I just read this after writing my first draft of a sales letter that I’m being paid to write (my very first!)… I’ve written website content, emails, and other advertising material, but never a sales letter until now.
Your first tip alone made my letter more effective. I read it, put myself in the reader’s shoes, and I think the changes I made to the letter based on your advice made it at least 50% more compelling than it was! All your advice is good, but #1 really gave me the right perspective and I think it “made” the tone of my letter.
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