Copywriting is creating words that are designed to make people take action. The goal of copywriting is either to create a sales letter for direct mail or, nowadays more commonly, a website where people give you money in exchange for services.
Because there are so many websites out there, people are exposed to advertising on each and every website they visit. Hence, it is necessary that what you do online stands out in some way or you run the risk of being ignored.
The key to success both online and offline is knowing who your market is. You cannot have a dialogue, even an imaginary dialogue, without knowing who you are talking to. When the audience is not in front of you, you need to conduct an extensive research about what they are interested in and what is important to them in order to take the conversation to the next level.
Creating a web page or a sales letter is really 90% research and 10% action. If you aren’t in the mindset of a customer, you really don’t have much of a chance for success.
Now, let's assume that we have done our research; we identified age groups and their interests as well frustrations, we called people or sent out questionnaires and surveys. What do we do with all this stuff now? The most powerful thing to get into your customers’ mind is to identify their criteria by verifying their highest possible values in a given circumstance. So, when you come up with high enough level of value, you are presenting something that they cannot go against.
For example, if you were promoting a weight loss product, the survey answers you would probably get from your audience would most likely be put into 2 categories only: health and appearance. For the majority of overweight people, these are the only things that matter.
Now, if you knew they were only interested in their health, then talking to them about how they would look in a bikini will most likely not yield any results. On the other hand, if your target audience was interested in appearance only, then talking to them about how longer they would live if they lost weight is again not relevant to them.
In other words, you must not project your own needs and desires onto people you are trying to influence or persuade, but rather concentrate on what THEY want and offer them THEIR criteria only, not yours.
By knowing your audience you know the highest values they are looking for (safety, freedom, health, money, appearance etc.) as well as all the stumbling blocks they perceive around them. Your ultimate goal is to present your services and products in such a way (using the stuff from their own personal experience) that they can identify with.
The best way to develop this feeling of criteria identification is to visit as many sites as possible within a niche of your interest and try to figure out the missing pieces. Chances are, you will find many websites where owners have absolutely no clue as to whom they are selling their products to.
No matter what the circumstances are, no person will ever violate his own criteria. Your job is to find these criteria and push onto them with elegance.
So, if I were to sell an NLP copywriting course, what do you think the more persuasive call to action would be: Click here to visit my website and buy the latest NLP copywriting course
If you are interested in developing your skills in identifying people’s criteria and wanting to take your persuasive skills to the next level, I am curious whether you would find something of value on my NLP copywriting site that might teach you something that would be so powerful that would explode your sales in ways you haven’t previously dreamed possible.
The persuasive power of the second sentence doesn’t stem from the delivery methods ( Milton hypnotic patterns in this case), but rather from identifying the true criteria of the potential buyer, which is improving writing skills and boosting sales using NLP.
Simplicity of language
I am going to venture a guess that most people reading this article right now are of above average intelligence. It means that if you wrote as if you were the client, it would be above the typical reading level of the audience. A good sales piece, however, is aimed at 6th or 7th-grade level. So, the best writing in the world is the one that can take a concept and break it down to absolute simplicity.
In mathematics, there is something called “the elegant solution”, which means that you can get the same solution using different routes. The elegant solution is the one that even a child can work out.
To give you an example of what I mean, let me mention the famous equation created by Albert Einstein E=MC2. This is an ingenious piece of work that took years to construct. A little 10-year-old boy could take this equation, plug the right variables in, and perform a powerful and sophisticated piece of mathematics. That for me is a sign of true genius. Einstein was able to take an extremely complex idea and reduce it into a very elegant form that even a child can understand.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I am not saying you should assume that all people are stupid and that you should adapt your writing style correspondingly due to these reasons. For example, if a potential client who has just developed a serious case of diabetes lands on the page where the author created the sales letter in such a way that it presupposes that all visitors already know everything there is to know about diabetes, the client will probably take his business elsewhere. In most cases, the client would rather visit a different website, rather than spend hours educating himself on the complex terminology and revisit the same website after he’s done the research.
You should always strive for communicating your message in a simple, clear, concise and direct way. After all, isn’t this what we, as hypnotists, do? We present ideas that the mind can actually accept. If your idea is so complex that it would take a person with an IQ of 200 to work out what you actually said, then you aren’t going to be persuading very many people. Sometimes, less is more, and this is where you should be heading to.
What is it that’s going to make people stop what they are doing and look at your web page thinking “there is something here for me”?
You have to come up with the story behind your product that people are not aware of, but would be interested in. People love stories and if your story is so compelling that it makes people say to themselves “wait, I need to read this” then you are in good shape.
For example, a while ago I accidentally stumbled upon a website that promoted a new drug that keeps you sober no matter how much you have drunk and the story behind it was so compelling that I read the whole sales letter though I don’t drink much alcohol. The attention grabber was something along these lines:
Practically stolen from the Soviet KGB that enables you to party like a rockstar and wake up without a hangover This sentence, even if you don’t drink alcohol, would stop you in your tracks and make you read the letter all the way through. well, at least, that’s what it did to me.
The product was indeed developed by the KGB because they wanted their agents to go out and not get drunk after an evening of festivities.
Such attention grabbers bring another layer of sophistication and influence. Besides the criteria aimed at the people who want to get through the night without getting drunk, we now have a compelling story instead of the dry, boring and factually based sales letter. Such stories will make people purchase the product by stimulating their imagination and emotions, which are the domain of the unconscious.
Elegance in writing
Elegance works, inelegance makes people upset.
One of the first things people learn about NLP is pacing (matching the person’s observable behaviours) and leading (taking them to the next level). But pacing and leading can be done elegantly or manipulatively. If done elegantly, then you can build an incredible attraction. But if a person isn’t careful with their pace or tries for too big of a lead, then the rapport is gone instantly. People tend to do this in copy all too often.
Joe Sugarman, who is one of the best copywriters in history, said that the sole purpose of the headline is to get someone to read the first sentence; not to buy, but to get to the first sentence. The purpose of the first sentence is to get someone to read the next sentence and so on.
In other words, you must not break the flow of ideas by constantly pushing for the sale throughout your copy before the person is ready to do it, but rather make your copy culminate in the sale at the end. Inappropriateness and the pushing of boundaries can actually become so inelegant that people get talked out of the sale though they ended up on your page with the intention of buying.
You can think of a sales letter like a series of dates. Each paragraph is a mini date where you make sure that your partner has such a good time that he or she wants to come back for another date. And finally, at the end of all these dates, you might get engaged or married; but it won’t happen right from the start.
On a similar note, If you are doing hypnosis with someone and working towards eye closure for example, what gets through your mind when your client reaches that stage? You acknowledge that you’ve gotten someplace and that you can use that as a launchpad for something else.
The biggest copywriting mistake?
This is probably the biggest mistake I have seen people make when writing a sales letter, and it has to do with the use of questions.
So, for example, if you were to write a bad sales letter for your hypnosis product, it would begin something like this:
Have you ever wondered what it was like to hypnotise someone? Would you like to have instantaneous command over people that you meet? Would you like to be able to say a few words and watch people close their eyes and drop into the trance? How much money could you make if you could hypnotise people at your command to do whatever you want?
Most sales letters begin with a series of questions…a question after question after question. And just when the reader answers the first question, he is presented with another one and so on.
If you have any experience in hypnosis and NLP you will always want to determine the accessing patterns when asking someone a question.
Typically, when you ask someone a question, what does he need to do in order to answer it? He must GO INSIDE to reflect and consider the question. And while he is inside, he is no longer with you on your sales page. And therefore, if he isn’t on your page you cannot influence him.
So, the bottom line is that the usage of indiscriminate questions in your sales letter is a very bad technique because you are going to lose the reader.
What you CAN do instead is to change all of the questions into IF statements.
IF you have always wanted to be able to hypnotise people that you meet and IF it has always been your desire to be able to start off the conversation and watch people close their eyes…
This is a more effective technique than chasing people away with a series of questions.
However, I personally wouldn’t use a series of IF statements any more than I would use a series of questions, but you will still be way above where you were before.
The bottom line is, you need to be open to what’s going on in the minds of the readers (where are they? What’s going on inside?). You need to know what asking a particular question will make the reader do.
When talking about some general experiences that people have you can switch to the third person (he or her) so that the reader can’t argue with it and think that you have missed the point or misread his mind.
Then, when you are to give them a personal experience about their future (future pacing) that will be about owning the product and enjoying the service, you switch to the second person (you’ll have this experience, this is what this product will do for you, this is how amazing it is etc.) , always keeping in mind the criteria so that the future memory and the dream you are building inside them includes the satisfaction of the core criteria that you spent a lot of time identifying.
This is related to a popular term in hypnosis known as transderivational search. This means that people will always want to make sense out of the communication that you give and deliver, either in oral or written form. Readers of your copy will always use transderivational search in order to make everything a little bit about themselves.
And this is where NLP copywriting becomes way more effective and elegant than traditional copywriting. According to traditional copywriting, the least effective word you can use in your copy is the word “I”, because the whole copy needs to be about the reader, not about you. Old-school copywriters who don’t have any NLP knowledge will also tell you that the most effective word is “YOU”.
But what if you say something to the reader that doesn’t match his experience or describe something that he cannot personally relate to and identify with? What happens then? This is where we can use the shift in the referential index; we take that “YOU” and turn it into “HE”, thus not forcing any experiences onto the reader that he cannot relate to.
This way the reader will never feel disconnected from your story. You will essentially be shielding the reader by a layer of semi-dissociation; because we shifted the referential index, he cannot argue with the experience that isn’t essentially his.
So, if you, throughout your copy use “the person who…” or “regular folks who…”, readers going through your copy cannot argue with it because it’s about someone else’s experience. But, because of transderivational search, you will get the same effect, but not lose the reader.
The only time you don’t want to use the referential shift is when future pacing the reader. In the future pace, you will want them to have the experience of having the product and benefiting from it, so you will always use the second person for this.
If you have a product that delivers as promised, then make sure you use all the skills you have in your book of tricks to get a person to buy it. On the other hand, if your product is second-rate and you use NLP to manipulate someone into buying it, then shame on you. If you don’t plan on using NLP with integrity, then you should not be using it at all!
One more thing…
Don’t expect to be perfect right from the start (and you most likely won’t), but over time you will be putting more of these suggestions into action and your persuasive writing will get better over time as you begin to master more and more of the above-mentioned principles.