The local shop in my village has finally figured out the perfect marriage of impulse purchase and value.
There I am…
Waiting for the assistant to pack my stuff and ring it through the register…
And I notice them…
Four Kit Kats for £1.
I know I shouldn’t. But four… FOUR… for just £1. That’s damn good value. Especially when you look across the counter and realise one Kit Kat alone costs nearly 70p these days.
You’d be dumb not to buy four… FOUR I TELL YOU… for just £1.
I mean, come on, right?
Such good value.
That’s the excuse I use, anyway…
And as I hide away in my office busily writing for whatever project I’m on that day, I happily get up every now and then to stare out the window, relax my eyes and snaffle another Kit Kat.
OK. So, what’s this have to do with direct response copywriting – aside from sharing my greedy writing/procrastination routine?
Well, I think we sometimes tend to get a little too philosophical about ideas and forget that behind all successful direct response sales letters, there’s usually a really good offer.
And that offer is usually dressed up as what I call a ‘value proposition’.
What do I mean by that? Let’s take a look…
Ideas need offers
First thing to point out, so we’re 100% clear…
You are never going to write a truly breakthrough, business-changing sales letter without a great idea.
A good offer alone will help the business tick over and it might even be seen as a clever idea in itself. I mean, take something like The Economist offering 12 issues for £12. It’s kind of an idea in itself. But really it’s just a good offer and has probably done their business well. But it won’t ever transform the business, not fundamentally.
Only a truly great idea can do that.
But… and it’s a big but…
A truly great idea still needs a good offer behind it to really work.
Even with the best idea ever at the top, you’re never going to close a long copy sales letter effectively without offering your reader a really strong value proposition.
Don’t forget: the whole concept of direct response copy is to get a ‘direct response’ from the reader. And what better way to do that than to offer them value:
“I’ll give you this, if you give me that.”
So, what I’m trying to say here is that, sure, you need a good idea to write a sales letter…
But once you’ve got a good idea, don’t forget to support it with a good offer: you’ve got to give your reader value.
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What do I mean by value?
Four Kit Kats for £1 is good value because I can measure it against my own perception of what a Kit Kat costs.
I have a perceived cost for a Kit Kat of around 70p.
Note that it’s irrelevant how much Kit Kats actually cost – it’s what I THINK they cost that’s important.
So, if you offer me four for £1, I can make a quick assessment and figure: sure, that’s good value. I’m in.
That’s the same process you need to recreate when it comes to offering a value proposition at the end of direct response sales letter.
You need to make an offer that appears to provide value when measured against your reader’s perception of the cost of what you’re selling.
And it needs to be obvious.
X is worth Y, but I’m only paying Z. Great: I’m in.
Sometimes that’ll be easy. If you’re selling something tangible, such as a book or a guide, and your offer is for less than the cost of the book or guide, it should obviously be good value. You won’t need to do too much extra here (though ideally you still should).
But often when writing direct response copy, you’ll be selling something that’s less tangible, like a subscription to a newsletter, or advisory service, something with a less obvious perceived cost.
This makes it a little harder because your reader has nothing to measure the cost against. Their perceived value of your product might be significantly different to what you value it at.
What do you do in this instance?
Well, the answer is simple. But it might also need you to go back to the client to improve their offering.
Emotional decisions need logical reasoning
If you’ve got a good idea and your sales letter has emotionally connected with the reader: great. Seriously, well done: the hardest part is done. Your reader is ready to buy. They’re engaged. They’re excited. They’re going to tell the world about this.
Ah, but there’s the problem. They’re going to need to justify the purchase to someone. It might be their partner, their family or their team at work. Maybe it’s just themselves. Whoever it is, before you can close the sale, you’re going to need to help your reader justify the sale to their doubter.
You see right now, as you ask for £100 to subscribe to your service, the reader is thinking:
Is this worth £100? What will my partner say? What have I actually got to show for this idea I’ve been sold on? Argh! I’m losing faith in this whole venture. And what do you mean I can get my money back…? Why would I need to get my money back? Help me. It wasn’t me… they forced me into this. I didn’t kiss him. Why are you looking at me like that? And so forth.
Of course, earlier in the sales letter you should have been loading up your argument with proof of all different kinds, which will go a long way to helping your reader justify the purchase.
But to close the sale, in addition to the proof you’ve given them, you should offer them obvious value above and beyond their perceived cost of the product or service you’re selling.
This could come in the form of:
- Extra reports around the idea that add some tangible value – you can speak to your client and ask them what material they have that you could turn into an additional report.
- A book that offers insight into the area you’re writing about – during your research if you came across a book that was useful, you could strike a deal with the publisher to get copies at cost.
- A practical gift that the reader will need in executing the idea – for an offer around cryptocurrencies, for example, you could give away a cryptocurrency wallet or some actual cryptocurrency.
- More interaction with the creator of the product – you could arrange a one-time only conference or webinar session with the expert that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.
- A voucher or credit redeemable on something else – a great copywriter in the US called Joe Schriefer literally offered people a blank cheque, which is perhaps the best example I’ve ever seen of this.
As you can see, there are many ways to add value to your offer – and, if possible, I would recommend doing them all at the same time.
Seriously. The more you can add to go above and beyond their perceived cost of your product, the more effective your offer will be.
In fact, many, many years ago, Mark Ford – an incredibly successful businessman and copywriting legend – famously offered an entire set of luggage as part of an offer to join a financial newsletter.
The idea of the sales letter was about exclusivity and travelling the world like some kind of John le Carré spy and smart, designer luggage played right into that idea.
Most importantly, though, its perceived value was far more than the price of the subscription itself.
So, the lesson here is simple:
Once you’ve done all the work finding your idea, engaging the reader, and proving to them why your idea is so cool…
Don’t stop there.
All good direct response sales letters need a good offer to close the deal.
You need to stop, reset your thinking and ask how you can provide value to the reader that is in excess of their perceived cost of the product or service you’re selling.
Do that and you’ll see the sales flying in.
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