Issue #72—July 11, 2019
Well, I'm officially another year older (as of today..."oh thank heaven for 7-11"!) But I'm actually "growing younger" thanks to my handfuls of supplements that I occasionally remember to take, so no worries.
The topic for today's issue has nothing to do with "de-aging" your body though. It has to do with one of the most basic, fundamental human desires of all time...and how you can leverage it in your copy and marketing.
And this basic, fundamental human desire is...(drum roll, please)...
Getting somethin' for nothin'!
I remember when I first began getting royalty checks. I'd walk out to my mailbox in the middle of the cul-de-sac with that old Dire Straits song playing in my head...
"Get your money for nothing and your ch(e)cks for free..." (The actual lyrics say "chicks" but I always heard it as "checks". Plus that's freakin' sexist.)
Now, of course, those nice fat royalty checks weren't for "nothin'". They were the result of weeks if not months of intense research and writing...foresaking other clients and opportunities to focus on that one promo...plus all the years of work and effort to learn and get better at writing copy, among several other factors.
I earned those checks (and still do). They weren't some free handout to which I was entitled.
The most powerful word in the English language
You've probably heard the most powerful word in the English language is "free". It's definitely up there ("you" is tied at least).
I know I've spent part of my birthday morning (after starting out strong with an hour-long workout at the gym) figuring out what "free stuff" I can get on my birthday. I'll definitely be using my Starbucks reward.
Maybe I'll also score a free slurpee at 7-11 (though I think I should qualify for 2 of them since they're giving them out for free to everyone else today between 11am and 7pm Eastern.)
The truth is, we all want free stuff. For little or no effort.
And if we see others getting free stuff that we're not, we get mad. We want our "fair share".
In fact, there's one thing I find ironic as I get back to dabbling with financial copy. I've been studying the most successful controls that are running right now (and have been running for a while).
There are scads of hot financial controls promising "Freedom Checks" and "Federal Rent Checks" and "Cash for Patriots" and other ways to collect "free money".
Yet many of the folks who buy these investment newsletter subscriptions tend to be conservative. You know, the same folks who so disdainfully complain about the "liberals" who want to give away the store to everyone, as well as those "freeloaders" who want something for nothin'.
Meanwhile, these highly successful promos promise these predominately conservative prospects they can claim their free checks from the government no less! (which isn't exactly true...but people buy into the idea. After all, they work hard and pay their taxes, why shouldn't they get their "fair share"?)
Okay, that's as political as I'm going to get, but you can see the irony here. None of us deep down are immune to this.
It all comes down to YOU doing the work
It's one reason why "work at home" scams and multi-level marketing and other massive overpromising of worry-free, easy paths to riches work SO well. Like some people who sell copywriting as an easy way to rake in a million dollars a year while hanging out on a beach or on your balcony in Italy. (I'll confess--if I'm at the beach or in Italy, the LAST thing I want to do is write copy!)
I hope I've never "oversold" any of my programs as this kind of easy path to riches, because I know it's not true. It takes hard work, practice, and some innate talent to achieve enough mastery that you can bring in the big bucks and write control after control. Once you're there---yes, it's a great lifestyle and the money is pretty great, too.
And while the training and coaching I offer (and that others do as well) can speed things up considerably and give you a major shortcut along that path, it still comes down to YOU doing the work to get there.
What does your prospect really want?
But let's go back to how you can tap into this primal human desire of getting the ultimate benefit the easiest way possible...whether it's losing weight while still eating pizza, looking years younger despite those thousands of hours spent in the sun...or getting those "freedom checks" in the mail the government's going to send you for some reason or another.
We all want to have our cake and eat it, too. We want to "undo" the damage done. We don't want to wait forever for results. We want to gain the same money-making edge the very rich enjoy.
These are all promises I've (and many other successful copywriters) have used quite profitably in our promos...no matter WHAT we're selling.
Speed of result. Erasing past mistakes. Taking someone off the hook.
Any and all of these can be a big part of your emotional hook. The key is to figure out what you're really selling! It's not just about having more money, for example. It's gaining respect. It's feeling more powerful or safe. It's getting more lovin'.
But you wouldn't come out and say this directly to your prospect. There are the things they "will" tell you (like I want to grow my portfolio)...the things they "won't" tell you (like I feel ashamed my wife is still driving a 15-year-old car because I can't afford to get her a new one)...and the things they "can't" tell you (like I don't deserve to have money because my mother made me feel like I was worthless as a child").
(Credit for this will/won't/can't explanation of your prospect's emotions goes to the brilliant marketing strategist Michael Fishman...)
So if your prospect is feeling this way...and you twist your big idea in such a way that it really does seem like they can get "free money" from the government thanks to some obscure tax loophole no one else knows about...well, it's gonna work like gangbusters! With all this in mind, let's take a quick look at an investment promo that's one of several ones out there cashing in on this approach...
What's in Kim's Mailbox?
This video sales letter (VSL) for Banyan Hill has been running for well over a year. I believe it was one of the first to talk about "free checks" in the current crop of investment promos using this "free money" angle quite successfully. I'm not sure if it's still being used, but I wanted to share it with you here so you can take a look at it. (there's a screenshot of the beginning of this VSL below...)
After opening with the big idea of promising massive payouts from "agencies" (that sound as if they're part of the government), there's example after example after example of real-life checks that people received as a result of this "program".
I remember hearing about this promo at a conference I attended as well as sitting in on an Agora call. And it apparently was yuuuuggggggeeee...one of those promos that helped build a business just on its own by bringing in so many subscribers.
Of course, it drew a lot of skepticism and criticism as well. In fact, while searching for this promo, I came across this video link where they're coming clean with the real explanation about what these "freedom checks" are (likely in response to being attacked as a "scam"...)
But this is actually brilliant marketing...I think it actually attracts the more skeptical prospects because it's so directly explaining...versus the subterfuge that triggers a prospect's "willing suspension of disbelief" that happens during the original "Freedom checks" promo (and many of its imitators that followed...)
It's like Gene Schwartz's sophistication of your market: "How many products have been there before you?" In this case, it's "how many promos have been there before you?"
By being direct and attacking the "scam" skepticism head-on, now this "Freedom checks" promo angle gets new life and gains an edge over the others that are still promising free money from the government (to which at this point, a prospect who's now seen that same promise again and again is saying, "Yeah, right...")
The same evolution has been seen for years in the supplement market (take a look at the covers of several of my past supplement controls here). You can't just shout out a benefit-laden promise in your main headline, as your prospect has seen many promises like that before already.
You need a new mechanism, a new way that delivers the benefit faster or better...or some other new angle. Perhaps "free checks" from the government for staying healthy even (just kidding...though hey, that just might work!)
Okay, that's it for this week's issue! I'm off to enjoy my birthday and claim my free Starbucks drink, my free Slurpee (or two), and whatever other free stuff I can get my hands on! In the meantime, I thank those of you who took the time to fill out my Copy Insiders survey earlier this week.
It's still live at this link, so if you didn't get a chance to fill it out you can still do so. There will be some cool things coming soon as a result of your feedback, so stay tuned!
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. If you want to dive deeper into studying my various past controls (health, supplements, skin care, financial, and fitness among them, you can find them here...including my "Buy 'em all" Swipe File that saves you the agony of deciding which one(s) to get. And as part of my birthday celebration, you can get of my swipe files or individual promo PDFs at 50% off savings till tomorrow at midnight. Just use this discount code at checkout to claim your half-price savings: KIM711