I want to talk about the end…
The moment you know the inevitable is upon you.
The moment you see everything flash before your eyes and wonder if you’ve done enough.
The moment you quietly whisper into the vast, empty abyss and ask…
Dear reader, do you actually want to buy this?
Yes – I’m talking about the end of a direct response sales letter. NOT the end of the world.
Though to be honest, as a copywriter, screwing up the final part of your promo really can seem like the end of the world.
I mean, what’s the point of spending all your time pouring every last piece of your soul into God knows how many pages, only to get to the end and see all of your good work go up in smoke because of a lame close?
A nightmare, right?
Yet when you’re learning about copy, you’re often taught to focus 80% of your energy on the headline and lead…
But just 20% on the rest!
Hmmm. Is that really the way to go? I’m not so sure.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see wisdom in this thought. It’s true that without a powerful and arresting headline and lead no one will ever see the back-end of your sales letter, thus rendering it pointless anyway.
But my problem with this idea is that too often it’s used as an excuse to approach the later sections of a long copy sales letter with less inventiveness.
Too often we just run through the motions when it comes to the close.
So, let’s begin to change that today…
Improving your back-end one step at a time
Now, there are many elements that go into the closing sections of a direct response sales letter and there are many variables that you can play with and test.
We could talk about adjusting offers… we could riff on how to handle a discount… we could even discuss what’s known as a ‘false’ close…
But we won’t.
Instead, I’d like to concentrate on a few very small paragraphs I propose you add to the end of your sales letter, just before you sign off and invite people to buy.
Assume the offer is dealt with… assume a discount has been thrown in… assume the sales letter is all but complete. As far as you’re concerned, you’re ready to ask for the sale.
Huh? Why not?
I’ve seen this directly contribute to an increase in conversion and though I don’t always use it, whenever I do I’m always excited by the obvious boost it gives to the end of a sales letter.
I call it ‘the inspirational distraction’.
It’s something I believe you could use in any letter, regardless of what you’re selling.
Because really it’s about taking the reader away from a cold buying decision – based purely on evaluating the pros and cons you’ve outlined in the main body copy – and forcing them to make an emotional decision based on the original idea that attracted them to read your copy in the first place.
Here’s how it works…
The inspirational distraction in practice
It’s natural that a sales letter tends to get less about the reader and more about the product or service as it gets closer to the end.
Copywriters do tend to get lazy.
(I do sometimes too, so don’t sweat it.)
Indeed, just pick up a few long copy letters at random to see how many begin to name the product more and more in the closing pages, whilst at the same time forgetting to refer to the reader.
Sure, you can try to keep the thread tight throughout and check you’re repeating benefits and constantly bringing the reader back into proceedings…
But it’s still difficult.
The fact is, when you get to the business-end of a sales letter and look to actually ask for money, things do end up a little more practical.
This little technique aims to correct that.
It’s a final flourish that puts the reader right back in the picture.
Indeed, just as the reader thinks you’re about to close and leave them to make a rational decision based on all the benefits and proof you’ve offered throughout your letter…
You completely shift gear and tell a very short and very personal story.
The story should be grounded in a very real world and invite the reader to imagine him or herself as the protagonist.
What should the story be about?
Well, it depends on your headline and lead. The story should relate to that.
If you’d used a promise-type headline – say “How to make £500 a month selling party hats online” – the story should recount how the author first started with just one party hat… put it online… made £2. Explain how that £2 was used to buy another hat… and then flash forward to today and the fact that from the first £2 hat they’re making £500 a month.
You invite the reader to imagine selling that one small hat for £2 and they think ‘yes, of course I could do that’ and by natural extension they’re able to see themselves on the same path to £500 a month.
You distract them for a moment by narrowing the whole idea into one small step and in turn inspire them because it seems so achievable.
If your sales letter has done its job, the reader should virtually be sold on the idea anyway. They should only have practical objections about actually making a purchase.
But this inspirational distraction allows you to finish the whole letter by not only putting the reader right back in the picture…
You put them right into that first step and show how easy it is and how quickly things can spiral.
The ultimate promise you’re making seems more achievable because the reader is focused on that first step, which seems so realistic.
Now, rather than going into the purchase with apprehension about paying, the reader will go into the purchase inspired and ready to get started.
Remember, it’s whatever you said in your headline that they got excited about in the first place, so it makes sense to return to it at the end. And by telling a story that grounds the same idea in a realistic and more immediate pay-off, you’re sure to close the deal.
And as I said, the principle behind the inspirational distraction isn’t just limited to promise-type headlines.
For example, you could be making a prediction and do exactly the same thing…
Just before you close, go back to that initial prediction and zoom right in to the first sign that events are happening that will make whatever prediction you’ve made come true.
The ultimate outcome might seem far away, but by distracting the reader and narrowing their focus to a small step on the way to the larger outcome, you can inspire the reader to think: yes, this person is right… this first small step just shows that bigger moves are inevitable.
Ultimately you’re inspiring the reader to act and you don’t need me to tell you…
The one thing you want the reader to do at the end of any direct response sales letter is act on what you’re telling them.
That’s why this technique works so well.
So, give it a try in your own copy and let me know how you get on.
P.S. If you’ve got any questions about how you could use this in your own long copy letter, be sure to comment below and I’ll try to steer you in the right direction.