This post is based on episode 105 of the ProBlogger podcast.
This week I want to talk about writing sales copy.
Now chances are you’d much rather write a blog post than try and sell something. You may have even become a blogger so you can avoid writing sales copy.
But it’s an important skill to have, especially if you plan on monetizing your blog by selling products or services. And I’m going to talk through a little exercise that will get you in the right frame of mind for writing it.
Selling without the sleaze
If the idea of selling makes you feel sleazy, you’re not alone. At one point I worked in sales at an office supplies store, and that job made me feel sleazy too. I felt uncomfortable about manipulating people into buying something they may not need, or even want.
Selling is something I’ve always struggled with, even as a full-time blogger. Fortunately, as a blogger I got to hear Ed Dale talk at a SuperFastBusiness conference. And in his presentation Ed said something that really resonated with me. He said, “Selling shouldn’t be about trying to manipulate people into buying something that they don’t really need. Selling should be about pain relief and gain creation”.
Pains and gains
Okay, let’s get into the exercise. It should only take you about five minutes, and all you’ll need is paper and pen (or keyboard and computer if you’d rather type than write).
Now, here’s the first part of the exercise: Think of your readers, and for the next two minutes write down as many of their pains, problems, fears, needs, etc. as you can think of that relate to your product or service.
They might be deep pains. They might be little pains. They might be pains that are justified. They might be pains that are a little bit selfish. They could be tangible, or something more personal. It might be something like, “I don’t know how to do something and that’s painful”. Or it might be something more personal like, “I feel lonely,” or “I feel like a failure”. It doesn’t matter. Just write it down.
Hopefully you now have a long list of your readers’ pains. Now it’s time to repeat the exercise, only this time you’ll be writing down all the things your readers want to gain.
What results do they want? What outcomes do they want? What dreams do they have? What do they want? What gains are they looking for that your product or service could provide? Again, just write them all down without censoring yourself.
Now it’s time to write your sales copy, using the pains and gains you’ve written down to ‘sell’ your product or service. Because instead of telling your readers what it can do, you’ll now be able to tell them how it can ease their pain and give them what they want to gain.
Chalk and cheese
Two days after the conference I was back at my desk, finishing off a sales email for an ebook we were promoting on Digital Photography School. (The person who normally wrote our sales emails had finished up just before the conference.) I started writing the email before the conference, but I was getting bogged down with writing all about the products features and price. So left it until after I’d come back from the conference.
And I’m so glad I did.
I set the timer on my iPhone, and spent the next two minutes writing down as many of my readers’ pains relating to the ebook that I could think of. Then I started the timer again, and wrote down all the gains I could think of.
In the end I had about 25 pains and gains written down. I then highlighted the top pains and gains in each list, and circled a few I felt this particular ebook could help relieve or provide.
And then I started to write. Only this time I didn’t write about why the product was good. I didn’t write about its features or its price. I didn’t even write about the offer. Instead I wrote about the pain I knew they felt, and the dreams I knew they had. And then I introduced them to the product I knew would help fill the gap between those pains and gains.
I looked at what I’d written, and compared it to my previous attempt. It was like chalk and cheese. My first draft was about the product, while the second was all about my reader. In my first draft I was trying to convince people to buy something. But in the second I was offering a solution to something I knew my readers were already looking for.
Those five minutes I spent brainstorming my readers’ pains and gains changed not only the email itself, but also the energy I wrote it with.
Later that week we did a two-email campaign about the same product. This time I wrote about a couple of different pains that I knew this product would solve. The email converted really well. But I also got emails from my readers thanking me for selling them the ebook. And having people thanking you for convincing them to buy your product is a dream come true.
Beyond the sales pitch
This exercise has really helped me write better sales copy. And I’m sure it will do the same for you. But it can be useful in other ways as well.
It can help you decide what product or service to offer in the first place. Think of the pain your readers would like relief from, and the things they’d like to have or achieve. Could you come up with a product or service that could give them what they want?
If you’re thinking of starting a new blog, or refining your niche, think about what you could write about that would ease their pain or fulfil their desires. You could even use this exercise to come up with new topics or categories for your current blog.
And if you’re thinking of creating an opt-in to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter, this could be the perfect way to decide what you should offer as an incentive.
Set your timers
Whether you’re selling a product or service, coming up with ideas for one, or just figuring out what might interest your readers, I encourage you to give this exercise a try. It could be the best way you’ve ever spent five minutes of your time.
Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash