Giving old proven controls a timely "facelift"

What's in Kim's Mailbox?

If you're wondering why you haven't heard from me lately, it's because I've been swamped.

I've been working on updating some of my current controls to weave in some new positioning angles that are more timely and relevant right now.

And I've also been making some revisions and/or Facebook compliance changes to old, long-running controls that are going to get re-tested and have the chance to win back their control "crowns".

It's a great way to keep working with my favorite clients and help them out...and also keep the royalties rolling in.

So here we go with another long-overdue edition of "What's in Kim's Mailbox"!

This time I'm looking at how one of my friends and past clients, Joe Barton of Barton Publishing, has given fresh life to one of his long-running control promos. It's not one I wrote, but I think I know who did (but since I'm not sure, I won't say).

The promo is a video sales letter (VSL) for his best-selling "Diabetes Solution Kit". And he's made it more timely and relevant by giving it a bit of a "facelift". Let's take a look under the hood, shall we?

We'll start by looking at the email I received this past Monday in my inbox that drives traffic to the VSL. It arrived with the attention-getting subject line, "43x deadlier than Coronavirus?"

It's a bold claim, made more believable and acceptable by ending it with a question mark to acknowledge what an astounding claim it is and build excitement. Now, let's look at the body copy of the email...

Okay, a few "armchair" critiques here (since I have no idea what the actual results were)...

The headline and opening are gripping and compelling, with a very strong analogy to a "mass killer" which anyone who hasn't been living under a rock the past few months will associate with the Coronavirus.

It's a very fear-based message...which may not be as effective now as it was a month ago, since people have been bombarded with so much fear everywhere they look lately, and may be a bit fatigued or turned off by it.

But in spite of all that, my bet is the average health-conscious person can't help but be insatiably curious to find out what this new "mass killer" is. So the copy does a good job of its main job, which is to get the prospect to keep reading.

It's also a bit of a contrarian message, since everyone's being told the main threat to their health is the coronavirus, but here's something that's being ignored that's killing 4,382 people every day (nice use of a statistic to add credibility to the message).

There's also good use of proof and credibility by adding Dr. Oz and Time Magazine quotes to the mix. In general, you can add quotes like these to any of your marketing messages if they're out in the public space...and use them to strengthen the believability of your copy.

Then there's a promise to reveal in the video 3 immune system-killing foods "which most people think are healthy" as bait to incite even more curiosity and urgency to get the prospect to click through to the VSL.

But then there's an image, supposedly from the video, of someone pouring a bottle of Coke down the toilet. This seems to contradict the message of these 3 immune-killing foods being ones most people think are healthy. For this reason, I think a different visual should have been used, though it is attention-grabbing.

(BTW...from deep in my computer archives, I found this screenshot of a highly-successful email.. It was used, along with my subject line, "5 memory-killing foods you should never eat", to drive traffic to the VSL. It was the first VSL I wrote years ago, and it was for Joe Barton's launch of his Memory Solution Kit.

The idea of "memory-killing foods" or "immune-killing foods" is a powerful one indeed. Here's this old control email below...)

Okay, now let's move on to taking a quick look at the VSL the "43x" email drives traffic to. I'm not going to go through the whole be honest, I didn't get past the first 10 minutes myself before clicking out of it and being taken to the order page.

Let's start with seeing where the links in the email take you once you click through...

The copy and graphics on this initial page are congruent with the copy and theme of the email...and the immune system angle makes it timely, urgent, and relevant.

There's a nice symmetry and "power of 3" with the 3 foods that disrupt in contrast to the 3 foods that can help strengthen immune function.You can click here to go to the actual VSL if you like.

If you start listening to the video, you'll hear Joe Barton doing the talking. He's a good narrator, sounds natural and likeable, and the fact that he doesn't read every single word exactly as it shows up keeps you listening and paying attention.

The script then links immune function to blood sugar levels pretty early on...and anyone who's been following the news or seen family members suffering is aware that diabetics have been dying at higher rates of coronavirus. So it's especially relevant if the prospect has blood sugar concerns.

It then introduces the first immune-disrupting food and it's sugar. It's immediately acknowledged as being something the prospect already knows (but I'm still wondering why they said in the email they were all ones people think are healthy).

After acknowledging that the prospect already knows sugar is bad, the script tells them something they likely didn't know...that sugary foods mess up the immune system for 6 hours afterwards. This is a good tactic to keep the prospect engaged.

But then it gets a little "science-y" in places, with some overly long sentences that should be broken into 2 or 3. I think they could have simplified it a bit more by using some analogies to paint a clearer picture.

It then does a good job of setting up the problem of sugar being hidden in most grocery items, which makes the prospect "hungry" for a solution early the grocery list and other tools that are teased about here.

A bit later it mentions fermented foods as one of the immune-disrupting foods, which I would think most people would find surprising. Sauerkraut and kombucha are regularly consumed by "health nuts" for their probiotic and immune-boosting qualities. So I think there needs to be a better case made for why fermented foods are bad, and it needs to be acknowledged as the surprise or contradiction it is.

It then introduces the Diabetes Solution Kit and provides some value for revealing the 3 foods to eat more of. It then goes to another narrator by the name of "Lon". This is where it appears (to the educated copywriter observer) to transition to the original control VSL, which then takes things from there.

This generally goes smoothly, yet when you start listening to "Lon" he's talking about how he's going to be showing you another I found that confusing.

In fact, I'd reached my tolerance threshold by then (when it comes to VSLs, it's pretty short...I personally don't know how people listen to them that long, but I'm not the target market for this blood sugar's in fine shape, thank you very much.)

So I exited the VSL and instead of being offered a chance to read the transcript (which I always prefer), I got taken to this order page instead...

Now we can see the offer...and how the initial price has been brought down to just $2.97 (with a subsequent billing of $17). This is a strong price point and makes it an impulse buy with immediate gratification.

This being an information product, there's no need for FDA disclaimers (like there are on the bottom of email and the main VSL page). So this makes me think there's likely a supplement upsell that comes next after ordering the Diabetes Solution Kit. At that price point, I'm sure there is some kind of upsell funnel! (I didn't hear back from my friend Joe in time, so if anyone knows what happens next, let me know...)

This is a great example (even though I think a few things could be improved to strengthen it even more) of freshening up an "old" control and giving it new life and relevancy by tying in with what's in the forefront of prospects' minds right now. How long this obsession with immune health will last, who knows?

But rather than having to "reinvent the wheel" and start over from scratch with a brand-new, untested and unproven promo, you can "retrofit" your current controls with these new angles...just like Barton Publishing did here with their VSL.

Hope you found this example valuable and applicable to your own business or the work you do for clients.

Yours for smarter marketing,


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