“There is no problem in the world that cannot be solved with a good sales letter.” (Gary Halbert)
Increasingly, I am teaching less about the technicalities of copywriting, and more about the subtle (and much ignored) art of salesmanship.
And this makes sense, given the nature of the Web. Copywriting is mostly a technical skill, something you can learn to do without actually understanding what it is, exactly, that you’re doing.
Sort of like learning to play songs on a guitar without having a clue how each chord relates to music theory — you just put your fingers like so on the fretboard, and strum.
One of the first things I did in the “Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets” course was to lay out a blueprint for a basic ad. It’s almost “paint by numbers” — write something about you here, something about the product here, list some benefits here, etc.
I also laid out a way to capture a good spoken pitch, and transcribe it into a working ad.
Your fundamental, nothin’ fancy, stripped-down pitch.
The very best copywriters are artists, and understand every nuance of writing. But for most projects, you don’t need to be a top copywriter — you just need to get the job done of presenting what you have, showing why it’s something your reader wants, and offering an easy way to get it.
As my pal Dan Kennedy likes to say: Good enough is good enough.
For many of the entrepreneurs and small biz owners I deal with, creating an ad that is “good enough” to get a basic sales job done is all they need to get over the hump of moving into profitable territory.
And with the Web increasingly offering so much free info, you really can get most of the way “there” without paying a cent for anything.
… and it’s a BIG “however”…
… you will never get above the level of mediocre sales until you go deeper with your understanding of both copywriting AND salesmanship. (Just like the guitarist who never bothers to learn music theory will forever be locked into playing only the most simple tunes, and will get lost easily when playing with other musicians. It’s the difference between “Kumbaya” and “Take Five”.)
This is why I wrote extensively about salesmanship in the “Kick Ass” course…
… and why I hid so many other advanced lessons on salesmanship in there, too.
True success in both business and life comes down to learning the psychology and real-world application of advanced salesmanship, not just the technical details of slamming out pitches or memorizing a few persuasion tricks.
Top copywriters are master salesmen, first. The “form” of writing copy follows the “function” of knowing how to sell.
That’s why my course — and my seminars, and my coaching clubs, and everything else I do — remains so fundamentally different than what other people teach.
Because what most people need is a good, stiff shot of masterful salesmanship. Not more technical skill at copywriting, not more graphics knowledge, and not more of anything else.
Every once in a while, I come across a “natural” salesman. They are rare. And they intuitively understand what I’m trying to teach about using copy to channel killer selling chops.
But for most folks, trying to convince someone to buy remains a big damn mystery. This is particularly frustrating when you get your basic copywriting chops down — so your ad reads well, and covers all the basics — and yet you don’t convert as many sales as you’d hoped for.
So here is the mystery, solved: It is actually EASY to get a prospect to say “Hey, that looks like a pretty nice product”, and even agree with you that he should probably buy it.
However, it is much more difficult to move to the next level… and get that same prospect to actually pull out his wallet and give you money.
This is where world-class salesmanship comes in. It’s not rocket science… but until you allow your stubborn little brain to digest the lessons, it will remain a mystery.
Even bad copywriters can coax a prospect to climb up and sit on the fence.
But it takes a deep knowledge of persuasion to knock him OFF that fence, and into your yard as a customer.
I used to have to hide the fact I was teaching so much classic salesmanship… because to many people, the whole concept seems fraught with scary implications of “mind control” and sleazy persuasion tricks.
Just get over it.
Everyone sells. Almost every single human interaction involves some level of salesmanship — kids try to sell unrestricted access to the cookie jar to Mom… teens try to sell themselves as good dating material… every essay you ever wrote was a sales job for a good grade… politicians sell themselves for your vote… and every friend you have had to be “sold” on liking you, first.
People who get good at selling live better lives. Most people suck at selling, because they never pay attention to the process.
You can get through life without understanding salesmanship. But that’s all you’ll do — “get through” it.
The magic doesn’t happen until you start learning the tough lessons.
If you’re in business, and you ignore salesmanship, you’re toast. You can create a fabulous product, or present a fabulous service… and you can even get lots of prospects to eagerly tell you how great your product or service is, and how you should get filthy rich because it’s so great.
But that’s just piling prospects up on the fence, where they will sit forever if you don’t learn how to knock ‘em off that fence.
Success is not about getting good PR or lots of pats on the back.
It’s about closing the deal.
Almost everything I write has a lesson in salesmanship hidden in it. It’s a little like teaching a kid about economics by giving him a dollar toward something he wants that costs two dollars — he’s got options and choices to make, and will have to learn to handle frustration and manage his dreams. He may not realize he’s learning basic capitalism, but he is.
And he learns absolutely nothing by you giving him the two bucks right off the bat.
And don’t get offended by the “child psychology” reference here. I had to learn most of my own lessons the hard way, and my mentors used the most cruel and insultingly-basic teaching methods possible.
Remember the car-washing exercises in “Karate Kid”?
Learning is painful. We’re all basically lazy beasts, resistant to new stuff. And the deep arts of classic salesmanship often run against the grain of “common sense”, or seem to come from left field.
But then, everything worth having takes some effort.
Every single lesson you learn nudges you a little further ahead than the other guy.
The big lesson here: Most mainstream advertising, at best, gets people up on the fence.
Just knowing that massive success requires learning how to knock them OFF that fence, puts you in a position to obliterate your competition.
If you lust after an extraordinary life, you need to master the tools of getting what you want.
And it’s all about salesmanship.