Here are the most frequently asked questions I get from prospective clients:
FAQ: “Do those sales letters really need to be so long?”
The other most frequently asked question I get actually comes in more of a pronouncement than a question. I have people telling me quite often, “I don’t read those long sales pages and I don’t want one because nobody wants to read them.”
When I hear that, I want to retort, “Do you believe everything you hear? How much research have you done on that? Or do you assume that because you don’t read them, no one does?”
I’ve seen some lively debates recently among people who are absolutely convinced that they serve no purpose. It’s definitely an emotionally charged issue. There are so many factors that go into the reasons why or why not, that I can’t begin to list them all here. Here are the main arguments I would make:
Some marketers for some products are able to convert their audiences based on a very short sales page that does very little “selling.” There’s simply an offer, a brief word from the marketer, a few well placed graphics and a buy button – and the sales just roll in.
They are the lucky ones because they no longer have to spend their time or money to develop those longs sales pages. That should NOT in any way, shape, or form be an indicator that just because they were successful, you will be.
In nearly every case, these are marketers that have already developed their target market’s trust, a “following,” if you will. One example that comes to mind is that some people will buy any book penned by their favorite author, because they have come to trust that they will enjoy the new book based on their history with the author’s previous books.
Jimmy Choo shoes are another example. Jimmy Choo has a well-respected and established brand name that is known for quality. Women who love his shoes love everything he comes out with. They rush out to buy the latest style because they trust his brand. And they are happy to pay top dollar for it, to boot (pun intended!). Apple is another example.
We should be so lucky, right?
But if you’re not yet a well-established and trusted brand like Apple, Jimmy Choo or Danielle Steele, etc., then you’re going to have to use the sales page to PROVE to people, WHY they should spend their money on your product or service over all the others out there.
Consider that your product is an unknown, and so are you. Each part of your sales letter should be building your case. If it takes a half page to build your case, then that’s how long your letter should be.
Think of it as if you’re on the phone with a prospective client. It wouldn’t be unusual for you to spend thirty minutes to explain what you’re about, what you’re offering and what qualifies you so they feel comfortable enough to buy, right? If you transcribe that thirty- minute call, chances are pretty good that’s going to be the equivalent of at least twenty pages of text.
And generally speaking, the higher the price tag of the investment you are asking them to make, the more copy you will need to overcome their objections. Why? Because they will naturally have more objections or roadblocks to spending $50,000 with you than they will to spending $50.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re planning to purchase a reading lamp. You go to one or two websites or maybe you walk into a store or two. You look around, you find one that gives good light, is in your price range and matches your decor reasonably well. You plunk down your money and go on your merry way, fully satisfied that it was money well spent.
Now let’s say you’ve decided to buy a new car in the next six months. That’s a pretty big chunk of change, so you’re going to take your time and do some research, ask your friends, if you’re smart – ask your mechanic, visit a few dealerships, ask questions and drive a few cars, before making a decision, right? The more money you are going to spend, the more questions you’ll have, or objections that must be overcome in order for you to feel comfortable with your decision and not have buyer’s remorse the next day.
Instead of having just three criteria that had to be met for the lamp (price, function and design), when buying a car you will consider those three, plus a whole litany of others: van vs. sedan, reliability, comfort, gas mileage, green or not, regular or premium gas, resale value, low maintenance, trunk space, manufacturer’s reputation, accident safety rankings, cost of insurance, cost of repairs, 4 or 6 cylinder, interior color, exterior color, status — not to mention the available options such as leather or fabric seats, type of wheels, stereo quality, GPS, tinted windows, 2 door vs. 4 door, and sun roof, yatta,yatta, yatta. Whew! The point is — you’re going to make sure you get what you want, right?
Likewise, if you are asking people to invest $5,000 in your six-month program, you can bet they’re going to have more questions or objections for you to overcome than if you are asking them to buy your $27 E-book.
The more expensive the product/service you’re selling, the more questions your prospective clients will have.
The truth is, there are a lot of people who won’t read your long sales page. And you don’t care. Want to know why? Because they are NOT YOUR TARGET MARKET! I promise you — if they were, they would want to read more copy to understand what they are getting, to learn everything they can about you, to make sure it’s worth their money. You will want to answer as many questions and overcome as many objections as you can think of.
There’s an old saying in the advertising industry about how long your copy should be: “Your copy should be like he length of a woman’s skirt – long enough to cover the important stuff but short enough to still be interesting.”
My response to the question of how long your sales page should be is very simple:
“A sales letter should be as long as it needs to be to get the job done.”
FAQ: Why does it cost so much when all I need you to write is one email letter or a paragraph or two?
Because it’s far more challenging to write 50 words than 500. How can that be, you ask?
First of all, there’s a certain amount of research that must be done up front regardless of whether I write 50 words, 500 or 5,000. I am compensated for that time, in addition to the time spent writing and revising.
The fact is, that when I have to squeeze the message into just 50 words, every single word must be well chosen. Each word has to earn its space on the page. Instead of just letting my thoughts flow, I have to filter them down to what is truly essential because there’s no room for fluff. This requires considerable time spent revising and rewriting, trying to say the same thing in fewer words, refining sentences so they are more succinct and have greater impact etc.
Here’s a story that explains why:
“The huge printing presses of a major Chicago newspaper began malfunctioning on the Saturday before Christmas, putting all the revenue for advertising that was to appear in the Sunday paper in jeopardy. None of the technicians could track down the problem. Finally, a frantic call was made to the retired printer who had worked with these presses for over 40 years. “We’ll pay anything; just come in and fix them,” he was told.
When he arrived, he walked around for a few minutes, surveying the presses; then he approached one of the control panels and opened it. He removed a dime from his pocket, turned a screw 1/4 of a turn, and said, “The presses will now work correctly.” After being profusely thanked, he was told to submit a bill for his work.
The bill arrived a few days later, for $10,000.00! Not wanting to pay such a huge amount for so little work, the printer was told to please itemize his charges, with the hope that he would reduce the amount once he had to identify his services line by line. The revised bill arrived: $1.00 for turning the screw; $9,999.00 for knowing which screw to turn.”
I don’t charge by the hour. I take into consideration how much of my time it will take and balance that with the real value to you (in terms of potential revenue in most cases), then charge accordingly, as would any truly professional copywriter.
FAQ: “Have you studied under copywriters Dan Kennedy or John Carlton?”
I am very familiar with their style of writing and have not previously studied under Dan Kennedy or John Carlton for these specific reasons:
#1 I went to college to learn how to write copy, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and a minor in psychology and have been writing copy that gets results for over twenty years professionally.
#2 I have studied Gary Halbert, Jay Abraham, Claude Hopkins, Ted Nicholas, Gary Bencivenga, and other experts, all the while studiously observing and perfecting my craft over the past 20+ years. The fact is, the more you write and study what others do, the better you get.
#3 I approach copywriting from a different perspective. My belief is that when you really understand your target market’s pain, you can speak quietly to that “little voice” inside their head that triggers the emotional response you are seeking. I have instinctively and intuitively written sincere and direct copy that gets results for over 20 years. Why mess with success?
#4 I chose to focus my business on supporting coaching professionals and I have not met many coaches that resonate with the in-your-face, screaming-at-me style of writing that clearly works for Kennedy and Carlton’s clients. It is my belief and my experience that this type of copy does not resonate with people seeking coaches. I have chosen not to study with them quite deliberately, because I would not want to be influenced to write in a style that doesn’t serve my client base.
#5 I am familiar with what Kennedy and Carlton do and teach and I can write that way when I need to. In fact, I purchased a home study kit from Carlton a few years ago, to see what all the fuss was about and I didn’t find anything in that was new to me. I am currently reaching out to more corporate clients and am in the process of becoming certified by Dan Kennedy because he is recognized as the guru in his style of writing and because I want to do everything I can to ensure my success in that arena. If I am going to be the best there is, it would be remiss of me not to at least see what he has to teach me.
FAQ: How often do I need to update my website copy?
Since the search engines reward fresh content, your website copy should be refreshed on a quarterly basis to improve your search engine ranking. Also update the copyright year to the current year every January. That way, the search engines can see how recently the site pages were updated and rank you higher for it. And of course, update your product listings when you add new ones.
FAQ: Do you write digital copy?
Yes, I’m a digital copywriter. That’s what you’re reading right here and on the 20+ other pages of this website. I can’t think of a type of copy that I haven’t written.
I hope this helps! If you have additional questions, please ask them here. Thank you.