This is part 4 of an online tutorial on how to write a sales page.
So far we’ve covered what a sales page is, what you need to know about your product and what you need to know about your customer before you write your sales page.
This time we’re going to look at how you can start writing about your customer’s problem in a way that builds a need for your solution. I’ll start by giving you some general guidelines for building the story around the problem you solve, and then we’ll look at some specific copywriting techniques that you can use throughout your sales page to make it more compelling.
A gripping story that proves your expertise
Great copywriting is supposed to “agitate” the problem which means writing about your customer’s problem in a way that makes them desire a solution. But many business owners don’t want to scaremonger their customers or go over the top and damage their credibility.
If that sounds like you then you’ll find the following copywriting approach really useful. It goes like this:
- Highlight the problem and the impact on your customer
- Tell them why the problem exists
- Tell them why they may have struggled to solve it
This format not only agitates the problem, it also makes your customer more open to your offer by saying:
“Look, I know you’ve tried to solve this before, but I’ve got something that is different that I know you’re going to love.”
So let’s look at these individual pieces:
1. Highlight the problem and its impact
Your customer’s problem has to feature prominently at the beginning of the sales page. If there’s no problem, there no need for a solution right? What tends to happen is we assume our customer will know they have a problem and be actively seeking a solution.
This is not always the case.
People often go through life putting up with a problem because they’re not even sure there is a solution out there, and they don’t realise how much the problem is affecting them. You don’t want to miss generating sales from this section of your target market.
So remember when we were getting to know our customers, I asked you what their problem was? This is where we use that information. Well, this is what I call the “Iceberg” problem.
With an iceberg, you only ever see the tip poking out of the water, which is how we’re able to say “oh look, there goes an iceberg.”
But we don’t know what’s going on under the surface (which is what I’ll come on to in a minute). Your “Iceberg Problem” might be:
- They have a crappy website
- They’ve just been made redundant
- They’ve got too much clutter in their house
The mistake you don’t want to make is to only talk about the iceberg problem. For example:
“If you’ve got a website you don’t like, we can help”
What we need to do is go beneath the surface into the murky depths of our customer’s problem and figure out what’s really bothering them. While a lot of copywriters will do this step without even thinking about it, one way to break it down is to think about:
- What other problems does this cause?
- How do these impact my customer?
- How do these knock-on effects make them feel?
Let’s look at the first part. Our customer has a crappy website. How does that impact their life? For context, let’s say our customer is a musician.
So, a musician might find that having a crappy website means a lot of little problems:
- Not being found in the search engines
- Being thought of as unprofessional
- Not being able to keep in touch with fans easily or build an online audience
And in turn, these impact your customer by:
- Having to go out and hustle for gigs rather than having people call them
- Missing out on gigs at the final hurdle when promoters and agents visit their site
- Struggling to attract people to their gigs, making them even less attractive for future bookings
How does this make them feel?
- Like their talents are going to waste
- Angry that lesser musicians are getting more exposure
Just there we have a rich course of frustrations that we can talk about in our sales page to prove to our musician that changing their crappy website is in fact a priority.
I want you to spend some time going through these stages for your customer’s problem and jotting down any notes and thoughts you come up with. If you structure your problem this way you’re much more likely to get your customer’s attention.
Be the expert on why the problem exists
Even though we buy on emotion, we do like a logical story to build our trust in a solution. A common copywriting technique is to not just explain the problem, but to reveal the story behind the problem.
Because subconsciously, if people feel they can know WHY something happens, they feel more receptive to finding a solution for it. Whenever anything happens in the world, from floods to unemployment, one of the first questions is “why did this happen?” and we all turn to the experts for answers.
On some level, your customer is thinking “why do I struggle so much with this problem?”
You just happen to be the expert with the answer.
Last time in this series I asked you to jot notes down briefly on why your customer’s problem exists, but this time I want you to think about it in more depth. For example, consider the following areas when building your story:
- Is it their personality? (Remember though, we’re not blaming them, think: an introvert trying to network)
- Is it changing times? (New social media tools? More demanding customers?)
- Is it the pressures of societal norms? (Get a job, marry, have kids, get a pet etc)
- Is it increasing competition?
- Is it being faced with something new? (Starting a new business, first child, moving home etc)
- Is it an emotional issue? (E.g. Fear of public speaking)
- Is it a lack of knowledge? (E.g. Wanting to write a sales page without spending years studying for it)
Think of as much of a back story as you possibly can to explain why they have that problem. If you convince them that there is a logical and simple reason why this happens, you can explain why it’s just as logical for you to have the skills to solve it.
Explain why they’ve struggled to solve it
If you want your customer to believe in your product, you have to make them see how it is different to products they’ve tried in the past.
For example, a couple of women in my family are constantly bouncing from one diet to the next. Each time they find a new plan, they find a reason to discredit the previous diet that was going to be the magical solution.
“This one’s better because it’s all about not mixing different sources of proteins… this ones better because you minimise your carb intake… this ones great because you can eat what you like and still lose weight.”
You get the picture.
Let’s say you sell software that helps bloggers plan an editorial calendar.
You know that they’ve probably tried spreadsheets, or online calendars, and probably read blogs about how to keep a good editorial calendar. So what are the problems with these alternatives?
- Spreadsheets – labour intensive and open to manual error
- Online calendars – need to constantly update, not easy to make lots of changes
- Blog posts – only tell you how to do it, don’t give you the tools to do it
From there, we have a pretty good basis for paving the way to our solution:
“If an erratic publishing schedule is holding you back from building your audience, we understand. Most business owners know they need to publish content consistently, but struggle to find the right tools to keep them on track. Excel spreadsheets can take hours to set up, online calendars can become confusing and even the best editorial advice only shows you how to do it, it doesn’t do it for you. Our software for creating a simple editorial calendar is different…”
So what about your product? What are the alternatives, what are their weaknesses and how does your product beat them?
Copywriting phrases you can use
When writing about your problem, there are a number of copywriting phrases and techniques you can use, such as:
The “Want… But” method for tackling objections
This is a way to get your customer’s interest by acknowledging their resistance head on.
- If you want to have confidence in your swimsuit but don’t want to starve yourself…
- If you want to expand your business but don’t want crippling overheads…
- If you want a new web design but you can’t afford a designer…
…we / I can help
They deserve more
Tell them that they don’t deserve their pain / problem, and that it’s not right or fair that they’re suffering with it. They’ll agree with you and be more receptive to your content.
Provide a comparison
As humans we have an unusual desire to compare ourselves to others. Which means if your customer has a problem, they have at some point thought about people who have either tackled or avoided that problem.
Remind them of this. For example:
“You know that other consultants just as qualified as you (or even less qualified) are getting new leads every single day… so what’s their secret and how can you do the same?”
Once you’ve worked your way through these processes and techniques, you’ll have some great copy that agitates your customer problem with integrity. And once we’ve aroused their desire to solve that problem, we simply introduce our solution…
Stay tuned for the next article in this series, coming shortly. If you want to keep up to date with new instalments, sign up to the newsletter and you’ll get a weekly recap (as well as some pretty cool sales page writing gifts)