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  4. The best practices for proposals say you should make your proposal as short as you can while still answering all of the customer’s questions.The best practices are wrong. If you follow them, and your competitors follow them as well, your proposal will be ordinary. Instead, you should turn the length of your proposal into a competitive advantage. Here's how: Be much, much, shorter. If your competitors are going to submit 50-page proposals, then make your proposal only five pages. Just sum up all the issues. Focus on what really matters. Use short, choppy sentences instead of run-on passive voice elaborations that don’t really add anything. Make it bold. Stand out from the pack. Longer proposals do not mean they were written by people who know more. It means they are disorganized. Say that. Don’t just offer the customer a choice — demonstrate the difference between you and your competitors. Give the customer a chance to choose a contractor that isn’t the same old, same old kind of provider, making it up as they go along and just muddling through. If you're afraid of making unsubstantiated claims, then put the long version with all the substantiate on the web. Let your executive summary be your proposal. You can make the proof with all the details available to them if they want to test you. By being radically short, you become the unit that everyone is measured against. So make darn sure you have a great offering. Make darn sure you truly understand what they want (as opposed to what they’ve asked for). If they want to select you, then they will look at the other, longer, and far more boring proposals with dread. Your competitors will seem unenlightened, uninspired, and out of touch. But if you offer something ordinary, they might seem like they did more of their homework. It is harder to write a short proposal than it is to write a long proposal. If you want to win. Be much, much longer. If you’re competitors are going to submit 50-page proposals, then make yours 500. Give them all the details. Prove that you've thought about every possible contingency. Prove that you're ready now and not just making it up as you go along. Just put it in appendices so they don’t have to actually read it. Instead of referring to procedures, show them the procedures. All of them. Don’t just promise. Show. Demonstrate. Ghost against the uncertainties of dealing with other contractors. Instead of offering to become what they need, you should already be it. Tell them straight up that you included all the backup, just to prove you are that ready and that your credibility surpasses that of your competitors. Tell them that if they select you they already know what they're going to get. If they select your competitors, all they get are promises. Make sure you include an executive summary that sums it all up in just a couple of pages. Tell them that they don’t have to read any further, unless they need to see proof. Make sure that the material is very, very well organized. Make it easy to skim. Make it visual. Make it easy to find things, like answers to questions. Give them a link to an online, searchable, clickable, expandable, collapsible version of your proposal. Better yet, turn it into a project portal that can be used as a tool for performance after award. Only give it to them before award so they can kick the tires. Be better prepared. Some RFPs specify a page limit. When they do, you can expect nearly all of your competitors to turn in proposals that are within a few pages of the limit. You can easily stand out by turning in a proposal way below the limit. After all, what message is the customer sending by having a page limit? When you have to provide information and that information is going to add significantly to the page count, remember to format the document to separate what you want them to read from the reference material. Put all the dry, data heavy, information intensive pages in an appendix or separate section of your proposal. When they open your proposal, you want them to read your story and see why they should select you. If they need substantiation, questions answered, demonstrations, detailed procedures, etc., then tell them where they can find them. But don’t let them disrupt your story. If you want to be competitive, there is no such thing as having “just the right” length to your proposal. You can either be way too short, or way too long. Either way, you can turn it into a competitive advantage. Avoid being comparable to your competition. Stand out. Be extraordinary. Get selected. Win.
  5. Sometimes the customer tells you exactly what to bid. Other times, they tell you what the problem or need is and ask you to propose a solution. When they tell you what to bid, everybody is bidding the same thing. To establish a better value you must either: Offer more than what they asked for. If you focus on the deliverables, this can be challenging, because delivering more usually means incurring higher costs. And when everyone is bidding the same thing, cost gets a lot more attention. The trick is to identify things that you would either do anyway, or can do without adding cost. Provide a better way for them to get what they asked for. Better delivery terms, quality assurance, risk mitigation, faster delivery, training, and better maintenance are all examples of ways to add value. It’s not about you. If the customer can get what they want from anyone, then who cares about the company providing it? It doesn’t matter unless you make it matter, but it’s got to matter to them. Be more credible and trustworthy. You want the customer to believe they have a better chance of actually getting what they want from you. People buy from businesses they trust. A performance history, references, demonstrations, samples, insurance, back-up and risk mitigation plans, transparency, real-time reporting, availability, guarantees, and clear, un-evasive speech/writing are all things that can reinforce trust. Better proposal writing. When everybody is bidding the same thing, the way you describe and position yourself matters a whole lot more. Once you’ve established credibility and trust, it’s important to tell the right story. If they can get what they are asking for from anyone, why would they want to get it from you? If everybody is offering the same thing, then outside of the price all they have to impact their decision is your proposal. So what kind of story does it tell? But what about when the customer is leaving it up to you to figure out what to propose, they just want their needs met or their problem solved? Then they don’t have the same points of comparison. So it all becomes about whether they want what you are offering. Teach them what matters. They have to figure out how to compare apples and oranges. Instead of leaving it to them to figure out, you can help them by pointing out what matters. And if in your proposal they see the company with the best understanding of what matters, that’s a definite plus. The customer will first compare you against what they want. Before they consider how your proposal compares to the competition, and before they consider how well your proposal is presented, they ask whether what you are offering will meet their needs. If you are proposing a solution, the company with the best understanding of what the customer wants has a significant advantage. It is critical to resolve issues and tradeoffs like long-term vs. short-term, quality/speed/price, centralized vs. decentralized, etc., the same way the customer would. So how well do you know their preferences? Risk mitigation rules. They are placing a lot of trust in you when they don’t specify what to bid. How do they know that what you are proposing will work, meet their needs, and get delivered on time and on budget? Trust is a lot more important as well. But they really need to know that you’ve thought it through, have anticipated the challenges, and are going to be able to overcome them. What are they actually going to get? They’ve asked you to figure it out. Now they have to pick between proposals that are all different. So they want to look past the intangibles and focus on what they are actually going to get so they have something to compare. When they look at your proposal, how long does it take them to figure out what they are going to get? It’s all about the results. They’ve asked for a solution, so where does yours get them? This is where your ability to tell your story really matters. If they pick you, where will they end up? What will that future look like? Will it get them excited? The company that understands them will tell the right story. The company that says they understand but doesn’t paint the right picture for the future really doesn’t understand them at all. The two lists above are very different. There are common elements in both, but with very different points of emphasis. More importantly, they two lists imply different strategies that result in different proposals. So what is your customer trying to achieve, and how does that impact your strategies? And what do you need to do to help them along with their selection?
  6. Simple power phrases stimulate your customer's feelings and trigger an emotional decision to buy from you. You can increase your sales by using power phrases in your web pages, sales letters, postcards and other marketing messages. Why Power Phrases Trigger the Buying Action A power phrase helps your customer visualize how they will feel when they own your product or use your service. It generates an imagined feeling and motivates your customer to convert that feeling into reality. Most of your customers make an emotional decision to buy from you. They may look for logical reasons to justify their decision. But their decision to buy is usually an emotional decision instead of a logical one. Power phrases increase a customer's desire for your product or service and trigger an emotional decision to buy. How to Create a Power Phrase Creating a power phrase is easy. Start by listing some of the major benefits your customers get when they buy from you. Then combine a few highly descriptive action words about one or more of those benefits into a short phrase. Here are some examples of power phrases used by 3 different types businesses: "Fast! Easy! Very Low-Cost!" (For a product or service business) "I'll help you myself! That's why I can promise results or the job is on me." (For a service business) "Work you enjoy, more money to spend and more time to spend it." (For a business opportunity offer) Use High-Impact Words Look at the words used in the above 3 power phrases. Many are high-impact words (fast, easy, very low-cost, help, promise, enjoy, more money, more time). Power phrases use high-impact words to create high-impact statements. Tip: Use short and clearly understood high-impact words for your power phrases. They create a dramatic word picture in your customer's mind without drawing attention to the actual words you use. A Series of 3 Words or Phrases Here's a special tip based on my personal experience. Create some of your power phrases using a series of 3 words or 3 groups of words. For some reason a series of 3 words or phrases seems to produce a dramatic and memorable image in a customer's mind. My most effective power phrases usually combine 3 words or 3 groups of words together in a series. For example: "Save time. Save money. Get immediate results." "Fast! Easy! Very Low-Cost!" "Enjoy it at home, in the office or in your car" "Power, Performance and Speed" Use the information in this article to develop power phrases for your products and services. Then include those power phrases in your web pages, sales letters and other marketing and sales messages. They will immediately increase your sales.
  7. You've identified the benefits you offer your customers, but how do you turn a list of benefits into engaging copy? As a copywriter, many of the projects I undertake are completely new websites. The client has some general ideas about what they’d like to convey, but they need someone who can fine-tune their message, and create copy which engages their readers. As a result, over the years I’ve developed a process for doing this effectively. There are four main steps: Identify benefits Identify how you deliver these benefits Prioritise your benefits Write the content STEP 1 – Identify your benefits Branding aside, most websites are about selling. Customers don’t want to know what you can do; they want to know what you can do for THEM. That means the first question you should ask is, “What benefits do I offer my customers?” This is usually the first step toward identifying the key message to be conveyed. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t describe your products and services. You just need to make sure it describes them in terms of benefits to your customer. STEP 2 – Identify how you deliver these benefits Of course, you can’t just claim to deliver benefits and stop at that. You need to support that claim. You’re going to need to convince your audience that you actually do deliver these benefits. Anyone can say they deliver benefits, but few can say it persuasively. From step 1 you’ll have a list of benefits. Now you need to think about how you deliver each benefit in that list. This is where you start talking about features – price, product highlights, distribution channel, competitor weaknesses, external factors, USPs, etc. It’s helpful if you draw up a table with one column for benefits and one for the features which deliver those benefits. You’ll probably find this process much easier than identifying benefits. In fact, you’ve probably got most of this information written down already… somewhere. If not, chances are you uncovered a good portion of it when you were brainstorming for benefits. TIP: If you’re having trouble identifying supporting features, before filling out the table, try listing everything you can think of which relates to what you do and how you do it. Don’t worry about the order. Just braindump onto a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a Word document, anywhere… Don’t leave anything out, even if it seems unimportant. (You’d be surprised how important even the most insignificant details can become once you start assigning them to benefits.) If you start getting lost, think back to the question you’re trying to answer: How do you deliver your list of benefits to your customer? Once you’ve done your braindump, read through it and decide which specific benefit each feature delivers. STEP 3 – Prioritise your benefits Now that you’ve identified all the things you COULD say, it’s time to figure out what you SHOULD say and where you should say it. This is where your benefits-features table comes into play. Read through your list of benefits and prioritise them according to how compelling they will be to your reader. The reason for this? Priority determines prominence. The most compelling benefits will need to be prominent. TIP: Be aware that your list may include some benefits which everyone in your business category could claim. In other words, they’re not just specific to your company, but apply to the type of service you offer. For example, if you sell a Content Management System (CMS) for website creation, you may list “Greater control for marketing managers” and “Less expense updating content” as benefits. Every CMS vendor could claim these benefits, so you’ll need to question their importance. Will they differentiate you from your competitors. Generic benefits can be useful if none of your competitors are using them, or if you feel you need to educate your market a bit before launching into company-specific benefits. STEP 4 – Write your content So now you know what you’d like to say, it’s time to decide how to say it. This is about three things: Subject – What is the subject of your site; features or benefits? Structure – How do you structure your site such that your customers will read your most compelling benefits? Words – What words should you use to best engage your audience (and the search engines)? Subject What is the subject of your site; features or benefits? The answer to this question lies in audience identification. If your audience knows a bit about the type of product or service you’re selling, lead with features (e.g. processor speed, turnaround time, uptime, expertise, educational qualifications, wide product range, etc.). But make sure you talk about their benefits, and make sure the features offering the most important benefits are the most prominent. Here’s a simplified example… Cool Widgets offers: Standard Operating Environment – Significantly reducing the complexity of your IT infrastructure System upgrades which are less expensive to license – Providing excellent TCO reductions In cases where you’re selling to an audience who knows very little about your product or service, lead with benefits (e.g. if you’re selling something technical to a non-technical audience). Here’s the same simplified example, reversed for a novice audience… Cool Widgets offers: Reduced complexity of IT infrastructure – We can implement a Standard Operating Environment for your organisation Reduced TCO – We can upgrade your IT to systems which are less expensive to license Structure How do you structure your site such that your customers will be sure to read your most compelling benefits? The answer is, keep it short ‘n sweet. And make it scannable. This doesn’t mean you have to cut features or benefits. You just have to structure your site to accommodate your message. While every site is different, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to introduce your main features and benefits on your home page. Summarise them – preferably using bullet points, but at the very least, clearly highlight them so that your audience can scan-read (e.g. bold, underline, colour, link). Then link from each summarised feature or benefit to a detailed description. Try to keep each page to approximately 200-400 words. You may need several pages to detail all your features and benefits. (Click to download a 29KB Word file containing a page structure template.) TIP: In cases where you need to introduce features and benefits which are generic to your field (rather than specific to your offering), your home page is generally the best place to do it. From there, you can lead to a second page summarising the specific features and benefits of your offering. Conclusion Web copy is about far more than just clever words. It’s essential that you identify the benefits you offer your customer, and that you can convince your customer you actually deliver those benefits. I hope that the guidance and tools provided in this article will help you on your way to engaging copy which converts to sales.
  8. The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is based on the assumption that if you can't be better than the competition then being different will usually suffice. It is true that most businesses scrape by in the midst of mediocrity. The bosses of these firms see an industry or profession that looks lucrative and join the ranks in a 'me too, I'd like some of that action', kind of way. If there's enough of a market for what they do then they'll pick up the odd client and eke out an existence without having to think or work very hard on their brand. Most of these companies make up the headlines of casualties when the market they're in gets tough and only the outstanding or well-positioned firms stay safe. So, the USP, in principle, enables the enlightened business owner to rise above the ranks and be noticed. This is usually achieved by: High Value Promises Guarantees Under Promising and Over Delivering Finding An Under-serviced Niche I applaud and support this way of thinking and believe that high value promises, guarantees and aiming to delight clients are all important. I actually believe that these things should be the baseline for any business. So the notion of a USP is fantastic. There's just one tiny flaw... Finding your USP can be like the quest for the proverbial Holy Grail. You could end up spending inordinate amounts of money on research, product/service development and branding without ever really attaining a true USP. The quest to find 'unique' when 'relevant', 'outstanding' and 'decisive' are just as good can be frustrating and wasteful. I've seen people stumble upon some really great propositions for their brand that would have worked like a dream, but then dismiss them because they're not "unique" enough. Some of the problems with USPs: Nearly every idea you come up with will have already been done, so struggling to find unique will be frustrating and wasteful. You'll spend lots of time trying to invent something truly unique and if you do ever find it you'll never really know if it's unique anyway. If you are unique then as soon as you start telling people the reasons why, somebody else will copy it and, alas, it is no longer unique. Most people realise the above as soon as they start looking and instead of doing the hard work they'll just slap a USP label on something that is 'me too' or mediocre. USPs feed many money-hungry textbook marketers with research, positioning and creative brainstorming projects. Then once somebody copies you it's back to the drawing board and they can get paid all over again. I want you to get the notion of 'unique' out of your head by replacing it with 'decisive'. We'll look at how to achieve this shortly. Too many "textbook marketers", in my experience, really don't understand USPs. It's just another buzzword they throw at you to sound clever and important but under the surface their USPs are usually little more than over-dressed features. So What Should You Be Aiming For? Right, back to the programme... I'd like you to ignore 'unique' and replace it with 'decisive'. I call this the Decisive Power Point (DPP). A "Decisive Power Point" is more effective than a "Unique Selling Point" for a number of reasons: Unique doesn't necessarily mean favourable to the person choosing - Decisive does! If all else is equal your DPP will tip the scales in your favour - it will be the deciding factor. DPPs work from your client's viewpoint - they are triggers that help your client decide, not just things that you think are unique. A decisive difference is much easier to find and maintain than a unique one. So, don't settle for unique! Be decisive! The goal is to have a benefit that is higher and further to the right than three of your best competitors.
  9. The psychology of negotiation Potential clients are crying out for the one thing so many businesses fail to provide: They want to be understood! When you approach prospects, ask them: “Do you have any situations in your company that our combined expertise can solve?”. Psychologically, by substituting the word “situations” for problems, you are more likely to get a positive response. Also, by using the term “combined or mutual expertise” you are telling them you respect their valuable knowledge. Remember Stephen Covey’s advice from his ground-breaking book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” - Seek first to understand, then to be understood. So tell your clients you want to really understand their needs above everything else, and you’ll be so far ahead of your competition, they’ll be left scrambling in the dust. A long forgotten response secret Philippa Davies, psychologist and expert in communication skills to heads of state and business leaders, says: “People respond more to what they are going to lose than to what they are going to gain.”She adds: “It’s very powerful when you explain to prospects they will probably lose market share to their main competitors if they don’t adopt your ideas.” Ask yourself: What will my customers stand to lose if they do not buy my service or product? Powerful scientific discovery Science discovered the human brain finds lists of features boring we switch off. So be creative and turn your service or product into a picture! This secret technique is used in memory retention strategies. For example, do you sell hotel rooms at $100 a night?, or do you sell Romantic Vacations with 4-Poster Beds and Champagne on Ice! Never sell a generic product or service. Create your own appealing picture, sit back, and watch your sales soar. Pretty picture Did you know you’ll increase your sales by using appealing photographs of typical users on your packaging? Why is this? Well, it humanizes your product or service and prospects perceive you to be more professional and trustworthy. You can also take advantage of this powerful tip for your promotional brochures and website. For one-person home-based businesses, always include your photo on your letterhead and other sales literature. Priceless pricing secrets Let’s take a closer look at pricing for success. Psychologists tell us that prices ending in “7” sell more than prices ending in “9”, for example, $1.97 will probably be more powerful than $1.99. Do you use this technique? Test it and see. Do be aware that if you sell a prestigious product or service, this will “cheapen” its image, so avoid this strategy for expensive products. You can also lower your price if customers buy larger quantities. For instance, $40 for one or $97 for 3. Yet another powerful psychological pricing strategy is using a technique that appears to lower the value of your product. For example, if you charge $500 per year for your service, you can offer this for “less than $10 per week”. It’s the same price eventually; however, can you see why this is more appealing? $10 will attract more immediate attention than a whopping $500. 21st century impostors Evolutionary Psychology tells us our hunter-gatherer instincts make us take risks only when we encounter danger. Interestingly, the maximum size of these hunger-gatherer groups was a maximum of 150 people. Therefore, larger businesses need to break down their workforce into smaller groups of people. To quote Richard Koch, we are 21st century impostors driven by Neolithic genes. Business units of less than 50 people have proved to be very effective. People are also charmed by status and responsibility. So create special positions for your staff, for example, Leader of Team A, and acknowledge special achievements with regular awards. And don’t forget to address that risk aversion factor in us all. Make sure you have the best guarantees of satisfaction around. When you take away the risk of buying your product or service, you’ll encourage more people to become your customers. Soviet research Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, “The Science of Getting Rich”also emphasizes the point of becoming rich by being creative and not competitive. This is supported by business guru, Richard Koch, who quotes Soviet Scientist, G F Gause and his interesting experiments on small organisms. The results show the business world that it cannot expect to prosper if it competes in the same market place as a competitor. If your competitor can invade you, and you can’t reciprocate, then you are in deep trouble. Therefore, don’t start a business where you can’t enter some of your competitor’s markets but it can enter all of yours. The big secret for any small business is to specialize in an area where you are substantially different from your rivals and put all your energy and resources into those areas. The greatest secret finally revealed It doesn’t matter if you have a world-beating product or service and innovative marketing, if you don’t carry out the following four procedures every day, you’re guaranteed to become just another business failure. Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, “The Science of Getting Rich”, and Robert Collier, in his amazing book, “Secret of the Ages, give away the following secrets: Form a precise image in your mind of what you want to achieve. Then comes the big secret: Believe, really believe, that you’ll reap the rewards you are asking for. Practice gratitude daily for all the great new ideas and successes that are coming your way. Finally, set about putting into place the vehicle to achieve what you are thinking about. If this is your business, then do all you can each day, effectively, so you are putting yourself in a position to receive what you are asking. And that’s it! You really do become what you think about! A future of growth When you start to apply these ground-breaking principles in your business, you’ll experience unprecedented levels of growth. So get started right now, and look forward to a rosy future.
  10. Psychology and Science are formidable and innovative forces taking the business world by storm. And you can benefit enormously from these forgotten secrets, once the preserve of a powerful elite. The psychology of negotiation Potential clients are crying out for the one thing so many businesses fail to provide: They want to be understood! When you approach prospects, ask them: "Do you have any situations in your company that our combined expertise can solve?" Psychologically, by substituting the word "situations" for problems, you are more likely to get a positive response. Also, by using the term "combined or mutual expertise" you are telling them you respect their valuable knowledge. Remember Stephen Covey's advice from his ground-breaking book: "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People" - Seek first to understand, then to be understood. So tell your clients you want to really understand their needs above everything else, and you'll be so far ahead of your competition, they'll be left scrambling in the dust. A long forgotten response secret Philippa Davies, psychologist and expert in communication skills to heads of state and business leaders, says: "People respond more to what they are going to lose than to what they are going to gain." She adds: "It's very powerful when you explain to prospects they will probably lose market share to their main competitors if they don't adopt your ideas." Ask yourself: What will my customers stand to lose if they do not buy my service or product? Powerful scientific discovery Science discovered the human brain finds lists of features boring - we switch off. So be creative and turn your service or product into a picture! This secret technique is used in memory retention strategies. For example, do you sell hotel rooms at $100 a night?, or do you sell Romantic Vacations with 4-Poster Beds and Champagne on Ice! Never sell a generic product or service. Create your own appealing picture, sit back, and watch your sales soar. Pretty picture Did you know you'll increase your sales by using appealing photographs of typical users on your packaging? Why is this? Well, it humanizes your product or service and prospects perceive you to be more professional and trustworthy. You can also take advantage of this powerful tip for your promotional brochures and website. For one-person home-based businesses, always include your photo on your letterhead and other sales literature. Priceless pricing secrets Let's take a closer look at pricing for success. Psychologists tell us that prices ending in "7" sell more than prices ending in "9", for example, $1.97 will probably be more powerful than $1.99. Do you use this technique? Test it and see. Do be aware that if you sell a prestigious product or service, this will "cheapen" its image, so avoid this strategy for expensive products. You can also lower your price if customers buy larger quantities. For instance, $40 for one or $97 for 3. Yet another powerful psychological pricing strategy is using a technique that appears to lower the value of your product. For example, if you charge $500 per year for your service, you can offer this for "less than $10 per week". It's the same price eventually; however, can you see why this is more appealing? $10 will attract more immediate attention than a whopping $500. 21st century impostors Evolutionary Psychology tells us our hunter-gatherer instincts make us take risks only when we encounter danger. Interestingly, the maximum size of these hunger-gatherer groups was a maximum of 150 people. Therefore, larger businesses need to break down their workforce into smaller groups of people. To quote Richard Koch, we are 21st century impostors driven by Neolithic genes. Business units of less than 50 people have proved to be very effective. People are also charmed by status and responsibility. So create special positions for your staff, for example, Leader of Team A, and acknowledge special achievements with regular awards. And don't forget to address that risk aversion factor in us all. Make sure you have the best guarantees of satisfaction around. When you take away the risk of buying your product or service, you'll encourage more people to become your customers. Soviet research Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, "The Science of Getting Rich"also emphasises the point of becoming rich by being creative and not competitive. This is supported by business guru, Richard Koch, who quotes Soviet Scientist, G F Gause and his interesting experiments on small organisms. The results show the business world that it cannot expect to prosper if it competes in the same market place as a competitor. If your competitor can invade you, and you can't reciprocate, then you are in deep trouble. Therefore, don't start a business where you can't enter some of your competitor's markets but it can enter all of yours. The big secret for any small business is to specialize in an area where you are substantially different from your rivals and put all your energy and resources into those areas. The greatest secret finally revealed It doesn't matter if you have a world-beating product or service and innovative marketing, if you don't carry out the following four procedures every day, you're guaranteed to become just another business failure. Wallace D. Wattles, in his 1910 classic text, "The Science of Getting Rich", and Robert Collier, in his amazing book, "Secret of the Ages, give away the following secrets: Form a precise image in your mind of what you want to achieve. Then comes the big secret: Believe, really believe, that you'll reap the rewards you are asking for. Practice gratitude daily for all the great new ideas and successes that are coming your way. Finally, set about putting into place the vehicle to achieve what you are thinking about. If this is your business, then do all you can each day, effectively, so you are putting yourself in a position to receive what you are asking. And that's it! You really do become what you think about! A future of growth When you start to apply these ground-breaking principles in your business, you'll experience unprecedented levels of growth. So get started right now, and look forward to a rosy future.
  11. I'll bet that headline got your attention! That's the whole point of headlines… to get the attention of your reader and cause them to want to read what's below the headline. Headlines should make such an impact that the reader will be intrigued enough to read the article, advertisement or story that follows. This is the most vital part of your advertisement. If the headline isn't interesting, you have a poor chance to get your point across in the copy because the copy will most likely not be read. So what goes into a power-packed headline? Well, here are a few suggestions: Solve a problem - I read a great headline on a web site for custom written poetry (www.peoplepoems.com). It said, 'We can solve your gift problem in 1 day for just $15.00'. Wow! If I were in the market for a gift, and didn't know what to buy, I would definitely read the copy that followed that headline. It offered to solve my problem and that caught my attention. Use a statistic - The Customer Service page of my web site (www.ktamarketing.com) states, 'It costs 30 to 40 times more to gain a new customer than keep an existing one.' I know as a small business owner that statistic really hits home. Every small business owner is looking to save money in every area possible. Most are very interested to read what needs to be done to keep their existing customers. State a quote - Did someone famous say something that applies to your advertising? Can you put a new twist on an old saying? Use it! A weight loss center might try something like, 'If it's not over 'til the fat lady sings then this is going to take awhile!' Ask a question - Perhaps our same weight loss center might ask, 'What does it take to lose 20 pounds by summer?' One word of caution with asking questions… never ask a question that can be answered with, 'No'. For example, our weight loss center would not want to ask, 'Do you know how to lose 20 pounds by summer?' The reader might very well answer, 'No' and skip the ad. If they knew how, they wouldn't be reading your ad! Create a mystery - A consumer's watchdog group once began an ad with 'Who's responsible for this!?' That would definitely make me want to find out what the heck was going on. Above all, make your headline applicable to your target audience. Just as the question, 'Do you know how to lose 20 pounds by summer' doesn't apply because it can be answered with no, it also alienates the target group. Headlines should be thought out carefully and given a great deal of attention. They are, after all, the life or death of your ad. Creating effective headlines will go a long way toward building more powerful advertising. And powerful advertising makes more sales!
  12. Whether you are making a brochure, or writing an unsolicited proposal, you can make it better by understanding the similarities and differences between them. A brochure is a document about your products and services. They are often mass produced and given anonymously. Brochures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are usually printed in color with lots of graphics. An unsolicited proposal is a document about your products and services. They are usually produced individually, and given to someone specific (although it may be to someone you do not know very well). They are often in letter form, unless they are large documents, in which case they are bound. A sales letter is a short proposal and always includes a call to action. Depending on the circumstances, sales letters may or may not be given to specific individuals and are sometimes sent to people you don't know. So what's the difference? It turns out that there really is not a lot of difference between them. All of them have to provide information and usually seek to persuade. Sometimes, the primary purpose of a brochure is to provide information. However, sometimes brochures that should persuade merely provide information. A key discriminator is whether the brochure has (or should have) a call to action. Marketing materials are almost always created to motivate the reader to do something. It could be to fill out a form, visit a store, make a purchase, visit a website, or to place a telephone call. If your brochure simply provides information, you should re-examine it to make sure it is persuasive, and consider re-designing it around a call to action. If do you have a call to action, or something that you are trying to motivate the reader to do, then it may help to think of your brochure as an unsolicited proposal. The brochure should be designed to effectively persuade the reader to fulfill the call to action. If you are writing an unsolicited proposal or a sales letter, you may not realize that it's not much different than a brochure with a call to action. Try focusing as much effort on graphics design as you put into a brochure when you create your next proposal. Every piece of copy, every aspect of the layout, and every graphic should contribute to persuading the reader. Both brochures and unsolicited proposals tend to suffer from a lack of information about the reader. The more you know about the reader, the more persuasive you can be. However, brochures and unsolicited proposals are often given to people who you don't know very well, usually in the hope of getting to know them better. If the document is your first contact with a potential customer, your call to action will often be related to getting to know the reader better so that your follow up can be more persuasive. All marketing materials can be made more effective when you know more about the reader. If the materials are not being sent to a specific individual, you should segment your distribution list into categories that are as specific as possible. If you are sending sufficient quantities, it is a good idea to test several approaches for effectiveness. The next time you are preparing a brochure, unsolicited proposal, or a sales letter, take the time to think about it as if it was one of the others. Think about your brochure or sales letter as if it is an unsolicited proposal. Think about your unsolicited proposal as if it is a brochure or sales letter. Think about your sales letter as if it is a brochure or unsolicited proposal. Use the comparison to improve the document, but be clear about your goals and audience --- because that is what should ultimately drive the design of your marketing materials.
  13. Who of us hasn't written advertising copy that we thought was great only to find out it flopped big time? Why? When you wrote it, it seemed very persuasive. You included lots of benefits and even gave a money back guarantee. It got YOU up and moving so why did your customers turn their heads? The reason is usually quite simple. They are not you. While one thing might motivate you and excite you enough to open your wallet and buy, there are other personality types who respond to different motivational factors. If you know the factors, you hold the key to copywriting success! There are several names for the different personality or behavioral types. Myers-Briggs labels them with letters (E = extrovert, I = introvert, etc.). Some psychologists label them with types ("A-type" personality, "B-type" personality, etc.). The DISC model (which I find the easiest to follow) labels the different personalities with descriptors (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, etc.) Regardless of what they're called, I encourage you to get to know them. Once you decipher the inner workings of your customers, you can write copy that will motivate each and every time. Let's look at a few of the descriptors used within the DISC model and I'm sure you'll see what I mean. Dominance The Dominance behavioral style is usually described with the following attributes: high egos problem-solver likes challenges drives hard for results positive loves power and authority motivated by direct answers Influence The Influence behavioral style can be described like this: socially and verbally aggressive optimistic can see the big picture people-oriented fast movers motivated by praise and strokes Steadiness Those who fall into the Steadiness behavioral style usually are described as: loyal to those they identify with good listener patient loves security wants to see benefits oriented towards family activities motivated towards traditional procedures Compliance The last of the four styles is Compliance. These people usually have the following attributes: critical thinkers high standards well disciplined accurate motivated by the right way to proceed As you can see, these simple hints already open new doors for copywriting effectiveness. From what's written above, you are probably getting some good ideas about how to adjust your copy to fit your target audience. For example, when writing to people with a Dominant behavioral style you'll want to be direct and to the point, focus on the business at hand, show them how this will help them get results and offer a win/win situation. Influential people will want to allow time for socialization (so include some "chit chat" when possible), to have fun, offer new and innovative ideas, give a way for them to respond quickly and offer praise and strokes for them making a good decision. Steadiness types make up the majority of the population. Over 40% of Americans fall into the Steadiness category. These people need to see a logical approach to your product or service, they need time for thinking before buying, they want to see how your solution will benefit them and they need a sense of security about buying. This explains why most copywriters will tell you to write long copy that is full of benefits and offers a money back guarantee. However, while this does work for 40% of the population, the other 60% has an issue with it. This is why I continually preach that you should know your target audience! If you are marketing to a group of CEOs (which most definitely fall into the dominance category) you can't provide long copy... they simply won't read it. They are looking for the bottom line and may ask for more details later if they feel they are necessary. If you have lots of information to provide, you'll have to break it up into sections to suit a "dominance" type. It all boils down to giving the customer what they want. Even in your copywriting techniques. If you don't, you'll lose the sale - plain and simple. As an example, I'll tell you about a real estate agent I once worked with. I was looking for a house and had specific criteria for the exterior and interior. Rather than scheduling an appointment with the realtor every other day to view houses, I wanted to be given the addresses and view the outside at my own pace. If the outside didn't have specific features, there was no need for me to see the inside. One Realtor emphatically told me, "Mrs. Thackston, that's just not the way I sell." To which I responded, "That's a shame... that's the way I buy!" He wouldn't give me what I wanted and therefore lost the sale. I encourage you to learn as much as you can about your target audience. Their likes, dislikes, personality traits and behavioral traits. When you do, you'll be able to write motivational copy that creates a desire to buy.
  14. I have been working with The Chesapeake Center to improve their business development and proposal processes. They have been the test case for many aspects of the process recommendations that show up in this newsletter and in the CapturePlanning.com MustWin Process. They recently asked me to take a look at the draft copy for an email they were planning to send to some of their prospects. In re-writing the email, I found myself doing many of the same corrections I do to proposals, so I thought I’d share it as a sample. Here is the original draft: Do you want the best SLP services provided to your students? Do you want your parents to rave about their child’s speech therapist, and tell all of their friends? Then, let us introduce ourselves. We are The Chesapeake Center Inc. We are an award-winning, highly acclaimed, nationally-known provider of pediatric speech language pathology, physical and occupational therapy services. The purpose of this communication is to introduce ourselves, and ask for an appointment with your school. At our appointment, we will explain and explore opportunities for us to enhance your student’s experience by delivering the quality services for which we are known. I will follow up with a phone call. In the meantime, please visit our website or feel free to call me. It is full of information about our services, and helpful tips for parents and schools. Have a great day! We look forward to meeting with you soon. Here are my comments in brackets (note: the subject matter/offering is not what is important — focus on the presentation): Do you want the best SLP services provided to your students? [This is not a good opener. No one would say “no!” Also, it’s probably not the most important concern of the buyer.] Do you want your parents to rave about their child’s speech therapist, and tell all of their friends? Then, let us introduce ourselves. [Just do it --- don’t ask permission. That’s just adding to the word count without adding any value.] We are The Chesapeake Center Inc. [Introduce yourself with something that matters to the reader.] We are an award-winning, highly acclaimed, nationally-known provider of pediatric speech language pathology, physical and occupational therapy services. [You need to state why this matters in order to pass the reader’s “so what?” test.] The purpose of this communication is to introduce ourselves [You’ve already said that (and you didn’t need to say it the first time).], and ask for an appointment with your school. At our appointment [If you want them to invest their time you need to give them more than a promise to justify the meeting when you get there.], we will explain and explore opportunities for us to enhance your student’s experience by delivering the quality services for which we are known. [But what are they? You never said.] I will follow up with a phone call. [If you are going to call no matter what, then why was the email needed?] In the meantime, please visit our website or feel free to call me. It is full of information about our services, and helpful tips for parents and schools. Have a great day! We look forward to meeting with you soon. When I finished I realized that I needed to send them a warning that my comments were brutal. I added some humor to keep them from feeling devastated. The fact is that the original was a fairly typical example of what companies send out all the time. Since the comments alone don’t tell you what to do to fix the draft, I put together a rewrite. This was a challenge for me since it’s not my area of technical expertise. My best qualification is having a wife who is heavily involved in the PTA. Here is the rewrite: We have found a way to help Charter Schools solve two critical problems at the same time. Most schools treat SLP services as a burdensome mandate. But we have found that with quality SLP services they have a better chance of fulfilling their potential, and when they do the entire school benefits. This means that SLP services can help you meet your AYP goals and No Child Left Behind mandates. Maybe this is why The Chesapeake Center is winning awards and gaining national recognition. SLP services can be about so much more than just ensuring compliance. When done right they produce value for your school. We’d love a chance to introduce ourselves and discuss how to get the most value out of your SLP program and distinguish your charter school at the same time. We only have a few openings left on our calendar for appointments, so please call today. And in the meantime, please visit our website where we have posted many helpful tips for parents and schools. There are many styles for writing copy, and this more closely resembles a sales letter than a proposal. However, there are lessons to be learned about proposal writing here. I think the re-write does a decent job of providing reasons for the reader to take action. It’s not about what the vendor wants (a meeting), it’s about what the customer wants. This is the most common problem I see in proposals — people describe themselves instead of the benefit to the customer. Who is your proposal about?
  15. Information is coming at us from all directions nowadays. This pace requires us to demand that we receive it fast and predigested in order to inch ahead of the game. This also requires a new filing system method for storing the bites and bytes. In this article, we will go into greater detail on: Why slogans are important in today’s society fast-pace information systems. What is a slogan? Learn the six major types of slogans. The many uses for slogans. Seven ways to make slogans memorable. First, lets create a clear definition for a slogan. A slogan is a noun, usually repeated and persuasive that creates a memorable catch phrase, motto, or jingle, that expresses a particular aim or concept. A concept that you want to stick in your audience’s mind like glue to paper. Second, what makes a slogan memorable? Brevity is first in line -- normally 10 words or less. Rhythm is the only exception to brevity. Rhythm is easier to create if there is an association to the receiver’s past -- like a particular jingle on TV during their teen years for those now in their 50s. I still hold one from a TV ad long ago, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." And I never smoked. An additional method is through repetition or language vividness. More on this later. Third, what are the benefits for using slogans? Brevity, as mentioned earlier, meets the requirements of today’s fast pace. Slogans also influence decisions, persuade, and add credibility. Our brains are like filing cabinets. A slogan makes it easier to file and pull when needed. For NLPers, neuro-linguistic programming, slogans create anchors. When people repeat the slogan, then consider it filed. There are five major slogan types: A feature -- a uniqueness or difference between a substance, product or object. Ex: "Write an ebook in 7 days." A benefit -- a result that someone receives. Remember, this saves you [time or money]. A question -- thought-provoking methods. "How would you like to be a millionaire in three years?" A challenge -- a dare. Ex: The Marines, "We are only looking for a few good men." A structure -- a design or collection put together for a single purpose. Ex: "The Abundance Center holds all the information you will ever need to know on abundance." There are seven ways to make a slogan memorable: Make it exciting Be boastful or exaggerated Self-referencing Metaphorical, playful or humorous Inspirational or uplifting To trigger painful memories or possibilities Use of vivid or freshful language Okay, the basics are out of the way. Yet to come: How to use slogans in your personal life, career, and business. Including examples for re-enforcement. Create Life Slogans Life slogans help energize goals, dreams, and even change beliefs. One of my favorite slogans gets me jumping out of bed every morning (benefit, self-referencing): "Everyday begins as a clean new slate, I am free to choose what gets written there." Is there a slogan that swirls around in your head in the morning? Share it with others -- write a poem or create a story about it. Playtime: Create a life slogan, two or three, that get you hopping. Try them out for a day or two. Measure their energy from 1-10 (10 being highest). Share and ask for feedback. Do you have children? Create positive slogans that rhythm and trigger action. I don't recommend negative slogans like, "Last one in, is a rotten egg." Create positive slogans, "First one in, gets a hug (rhythm and action). This slogan is a little too cute, yet it makes my point. Create Career Slogans Do you belong to Toastmasters or give presentations? Use slogans for the title, then repeat it in your content along with its meaning, and as the last line. Watch how many mention its affects afterwards. Create a new one for each speech. Create interview slogans. Ones that help them remember you. Know the company’s slogan. Create a slogan that builds on you're your features and benefits of why they need to hire you. Use it during the interview. You can create one that can use one or two of the different types: self- referencing, metaphorical or inspirational. Slogans are powerful enough that people, like comedians and actors, have developed entire careers around them. You don't need to be famous to start. Slogans can even become book titles later on. Business Slogans In business, slogans are usable for self-introductions, prospective presentations, on web sites, in e-mail signatures, and even speaking engagements. Example: You are a coach giving a presentation for a contract with a company for life coaching or business coaching. Create a slogan for a process or concept on what applications you will be using. Or give the process an acronym, like S.T.O.P. [something]. Let the acronym be the start of the slogan. Create one for your complimentary sessions. You can also create a slogan to share each week with your clients. Be creative, use a slogan in each of your sales and marketing processes, change them frequently if you need to. Sold a contract a year ago with one slogan, create another, and sell them another contract this year. Use slogans in article titles, ebooks or books. Sometimes a slogan takes off and becomes so memorable it becomes the brand for a company. Coke Cola with the slogan, "The real thing," took themselves to first place in the marketplace with these three words. Everything afterwards just wasn't the real thing. Creating a Slogan Where do you start to build slogan’s? Re-read any of your notes or material. Highlight phrases that contain high energy. Do you lead teleclasses, like I do? Ask participants at the end of each call for two or three words of what they are taking away. Whatever they provide was memorable for them. Hear it multiple times, those are sure slogans. This also applies to pilot programs you might give. Ask for feedback, they are usually built in slogans. Ask, "What do I want people to remember about [me][my company]?" KISS it -- keep it simple and short. That is possibly a slogan. Next, ask, "What do I want them to do?" This is another type of slogan. Yellow pages had a great one for years, "Let your fingers do the walking." Another way to create a slogan is to take two phrases that have parallel construction and place them together with a comma. Ex: Prizefighter Ali, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Rhyme helps create memorable. Read poetry for triggers or language that influences or inspires. Ask friends for help. Make it a game at a meal event. Ask clients too on feedback as to what makes you memorable to them. They always keep it short. Be playful when creating slogans. Keep take of them too in your business journal or in a slogan file on your computer. Add and use them frequently. Encourage others to do the same. Success attracts success. Share it and it will, "Always attract back everything you need."
  16. Why write a guarantee for your product or service? It reduces the risk in the eyes of your customers, enough to turn a cynical customer into a convinced customer. So, what makes a good guarantee? Besides the obvious, "I guarantee it," strong guarantees include elements that not only ease the customers' fears but also reinforce your offer. Before you put your guarantee in writing, here are some tips to keep in mind. Emphasize the benefit in each guarantee. Say you're selling an energy supplement. Write a statement saying, "If you're not drinking less coffee, skipping down the street, or simply more energetic after thirty days, just ask for your money back." Offer objects other than money. If you simply can't afford to return your customers' money or hesitant to offer that type of guarantee, offer to correct the problem at no additional charge. Send them another product. Contribute to the charity of their choice, in their name of course. Use your imagination and think of ways you can ease your customer's fears. I'm sure you've heard of the 30-day guarantee. Have you ever considered giving a 60-day, 90-day, or even a 1-year guarantee? When you offer longer terms, you take on more risk. When you take on more risk, your guarantee becomes stronger. A strong guarantee = Confident buyers. After you've finished laying out your guarantee, don't forget to restate your main offer. This is also a great place to include write another call-to-action phase. Ask for their business right after you've dissolved their reluctance. Now, let's think about what type of guarantee should you have. Before you decide which guarantee is right for you, think like your customer. Why aren't they buying? Are they worried about price? Afraid the product isn't exactly what they're looking for? Afraid the project won't be completed on time? Guarantees fall into five very overlapping categories: The Money-back guarantee – This ensures that you customers won't waste their time or money. It also protects customers if the product breaks or fails. You can also offer a prorated money back guarantee after the originally guarantee's terms have lapsed. The Satisfaction guarantee – This ensures that your customer will be and remain happy with your service or product. This promises your customer happiness with the benefits your services. Price protection guarantee – This can either lock in the price, ensuring the price and payment terms won't change or increase -- think life insurance. Alternatively, ensure that they won't find a lower price – think office supply superstores. On-time guarantee – This helps subdue the fears in time-crunched patrons. Businesses like printers, car repair shops, and cable companies could benefit from this type of guarantee. Absolutely No Question Asked guarantee – This can be applied towards anything. A major problem: You'll probably never learn your weak spots, if you never have the opportunity to ask questions. Include a guarantee in your next copywriting project. Whether you're writing web copy, a brochure, or a sales letter, a strong guarantee will dissolve your customers' reluctance and help spur sales. I guarantee it.
  17. A few small changes in your sales copy can produce a big increase the number of sales you get from your web pages sales letters, and postcards. Here are 12 simple things you can do to improve the effectiveness of your sales copy - and increase your sales. Make sure every part of your message focuses on the customer. Convert anything about you or your company into a customer benefit. For example, replace "14 years of experience" with "pleasing customers just like you for over 14 years". Write your message the way you would write to one person. Many people will read your sales copy. But each person will read it individually. Effective sales copy makes each reader feel like you are writing personally to him or her. Communicate in simple and informal language. Replace words like "originate" with "start" and "receive" with "get". Use active words in the present tense to grab your prospective customer's attention and hold their interest. People stop reading if they begin to feel bored. Convert technical words and phrases into common words. Use words every prospective customer will clearly understand without stopping to think. Replace general words and phrases with specific descriptions. For example, replace a phrase like "get fast results" with "our new clients average 9 percent more profit in the first 60 days". Divide long paragraphs into 2 or more short paragraphs. People read short paragraphs because they look easy to read. But they skim (or skip) long paragraphs because they look like a challenge. Include some bulleted or numbered lists to make your message: Visually attractive Easier to read More clearly understood Don't overdo the attention getters. Too much bold type, underlining or all upper case letters makes your message harder to read. Use them sparingly to highlight important benefits or features. Eliminate anything cute, clever or humorous. It diverts the reader's attention away from your message. Keep your message positive and upbeat. Positive copy usually produces better results than negative copy ...except in politics. Make sure your message flows smoothly. Readers should be able to visualize what you're saying without noticing the words you're using to say it. Keep them engrossed in your message. Avoid sensation and hype. They lower your believability and cause you to lose sales. Tone down any claims that sound exaggerated - even if they are true. Compare the sales copy you are using on your web pages, sales letters and postcards with the 12 strategies on this list. Revise your copy to implement those you overlooked. You will enjoy an immediate increase in the number of sales they produce for you. Tip: Save this list and use it as a guideline the next time you create (or pay someone else to create) new sales copy.
  18. I'm sure you've seen those ads that grab your attention and have you ready to pull out your wallet or credit card. They are literally making you an offer you can't refuse. Don't you wish your ads were that persuasive? Are the marketers who wrote these ads natural born writers, or is there a formula that you can learn? Writing to persuade is a skill that can be learned, like any other skill. It's just a matter of breaking down the process into four simple steps. These four steps are a basic outline to get you started. Start studying the sales letters you read and break them down into the four basic steps. Determine how effective the writer was in covering the bases. Make notes on how you could improve on the sales letter. Learning to write persuasive copy is a life long venture. You can write persuasive copy. You have the basics, the rest is up to you.
  19. There are only 4 reasons why people decide not to buy from you. Once you understand the thinking behind each reason you can easily implement these proven strategies to neutralize their impact - and get a higher percentage of sales. Reason #1: No Need People in our modern society rarely buy something because they need it. They buy something because they want it. When prospective customers say, "I don't need your product" they really mean, "I don't want it". How can you avoid losing these sales? Target your marketing. Promote your business only among people likely to have a strong desire for the benefits provided by your product or service. Example: A network marketer will lose money by advertising a business opportunity in the local newspaper. Most readers aren't interested in a business opportunity. Instead, she can generate a lot of business by advertising in trade magazines, newsletters or e-zines read by opportunity seekers. Reason #2: No Money Consumers and businesses rarely avoid buying something because they don't have (or can't get) the money needed to make the purchase. They avoid buying what you offer because they place a higher priority on spending money for something else. You can get these sales by making YOUR product or service their priority. What is the most pressing problem you can solve for prospects in your targeted market? Dramatize how they'll feel when your product or service eliminates that problem. Make it so important they'll move your offer to the top of their priority list. Tip: You can demonstrate a low cost for your product or service by breaking down the price to its lowest time increment. For example, "Enjoy all of this for less than 90 cents a day" (for something priced at $325 a year). Reason #3: No Hurry Many people tend to procrastinate after they decide to buy something. As time passes some will forget why your product or service is so important. They'll be distracted by other priorities and forget all about you. You'll lose the business. You can avoid losing sales because of "no hurry" by rewarding customers for taking immediate action and penalizing those who don't. For example, offer a special discount price or a special bonus for ordering before a deadline. Reason #4: No Trust Most people fear losing something they have more than they desire gaining something they want. This fear causes many people to avoid buying something they really want. They're reluctant to buy because they might not get what they expect from your product or service and they'll lose their money. You have to remove this perceived risk to avoid losing business because of "no trust". Here are 3 way I've found effective for any business... Eliminate the risk with an unconditional money back guarantee. Provide reassurance with testimonials from satisfied customers. Increase your credibility by allowing customers to communicate directly with you. For example, give them your direct phone number. You'll only get calls from serious prospects who want the reassurance of dealing with a real person. There are only 4 reasons why people decide not to buy from you. You can increase your sales by understanding the thinking behind each reason and implementing proven strategies to neutralize their impact.
  20. Who Are You Selling Your Product To? Before writing word one of your sales letter you must know who is in the market for your product. You need to be able to take your product and find the one specific group that is going to desperately have a need for your offer. The more specific the better. If you’re offering a fishing lure designed to catch salmon you wouldn’t market it to men in general. You’d narrow it down to people that fished. And even more specifically, you’d market it to those that fish for salmon. By doing this your sales letter can speak directly to your prospect and therefore make more profits for you. How Is Your Product Different? What sets your product apart from the competition? Have you done studies to show it works better? Do you have a higher overall level of customer satisfaction compared to your competitors? Can you say that your product is the only one that does something no other product does? If so, tell the reader in your sales letter. If you can tell your prospect that your product offers a highly desired benefit unavailable from your competitor’s product then you’re going to make the sale. Why Should The Prospect Believe You? With all the scams and false information being given through advertising, disbelief sets in pretty fast. So you’ve got to make your prospect believe what you’re telling them is the undeniable truth. And you’ve got to do it fast before the prospect starts to think that every claim you’re making can’t possibly be true. So tell them why they should believe you. Show them stats to back up your claims. Prove to them that what you’re saying is the truth from the beginning and they’ll believe everything you have to say from that point forward. What Are ALL The Benefits Your Product Offers? But not only the biggest, most obvious benefits, but also those that are not so evident. By creating a long list of benefits the customer gets with your product you better your chance of listing the one thing they really need. And if you can show them one benefit that captures their eye then you’re going to make a new customer. Why Might Your Prospect Say “No”? Read your letter from the viewpoint of your prospect. Would you say yes to the offer? If not, why? Reading over your sales letter and answering questions and objections as they arise is a guaranteed method for increasing response and breaking down buying resistance. Why Should Your Prospect Act Now? The final question you must answer for your prospect is why they need to act immediately. Miss this crucial step and your offer will be put on permanent hold as the prospect makes plans to act at a later date but never does. Give them a believable reason to act immediately. Give them a special price if they act within the next few days. Or tell them quantities are limited and once they’re all gone they won’t be sold at any price. Just make sure that your urgency is believable and truthful.
  21. I often get asked what sorts of sales pieces does a business need to maximise their sales conversions and repeat sales. Well - every business IS different, but here is a good starting point. Generating leads A Yellow Pages ad that sells (if you're in a classification where there are a large number of large ads featured). A variety of appointment generating letters with unique gimmicks - designed to be followed up with a phone call to gain an appointment. Continually test new approaches to see which one delivers the best result for your efforts. Appointment rain check letter - for people who don't agree to the appointment (refer above letter). This is designed to say thanks for their time and to give them some additional information about the company with the view of gaining an appointment down the track. A series of "sell off the page" campaigns to past prospects and qualified lists. Some businesses are reluctant to try this approach because they feel that a sale needs face to face contact. In some situations it does, but in others, it really doesn't. By thinking outside the square you may find that you can, in fact, sell your product or service off the page. Having said that, there will always be some industries where it doesn't work. If you're wondering if this approach might work for your business, just send me an email at kris@wordsthatsell.com.au A series of press ads, cold sales letters and letters to clients, that promote "timely" events eg. end of financial year, Easter, Christmas etc. Endorsed mailer - where one of your client writes a letter to your prospects endorsing your services. This can work fantastically well because they're hearing how good your business is from someone who counts ... another customer. A "host beneficiary" campaign - where a strategically aligned business writes to their clients recommending your business and offering them a special "deal" on your behalf. This is a fantastic win-win. Naturally, it's important to reciprocate the offer by then writing to your clients recommending the other business's products or services. Two or three good lead generation ads in a targeted publication promoting a FREE report, a consultation or FREE seminar. Almost every industry can use this approach with great results. What can you offer? A series of small classified ads promoting your website and or your business Depending on the industry, you'd be surprised at how well this can actually work. Even if you're in a b2b field, there are numerous newspaper classifications where you could place your ad. Post box fliers - depending on your product or service, you could find that this is a highly cost effective ways to generate extra leads. Website postcards - if you have some really valuable information on your website, use a postcard to drive traffic to the site. A Website that sells - it doesn't matter what type of business you're in, a website is a must. One press release every month - FREE publicity is like gold. Tap into it for all its worth. Maximizing your sales conversions Appointment confirmation letter that reminds them of the appointment date and gives them preliminary information that excites them about meeting with you. Benefit-oriented corporate brochure. Product and services fact sheets that go inside a presentation folder. A series of how-to reports and/or white papers which pitch you as an expert in your field. A "Questions and Answers" document which handles any buyer objections up front and gives them all the information they need to make an informed decision. A "case studies and client success stories" document giving specific details of wins experienced by clients. A comprehensive, benefit-oriented proposal template. A powerful enquiry letter and information package with a limited offer and a clear, powerful call-to-action. E-Profile - an electronic brochure that you can email to prospective clients instantly. Cross-selling checklist which lists all options a customer might consider. This helps maximise the average value of each sale. A series of powerful, staged email auto-responder messages that follow up email requests for information and keep encouraging your prospect to buy. Drip-feed prospect nurturing campaign where you follow up unconverted leads with a series of letters designed to subtly sell them on your services in a staged manner. "Sorry we couldn't help you" letter that gets sent out after receiving a rejection. This helps endear your company to the prospect even though you didn't make the sale AND it may even steer them back to you down the track. A variety of how-to articles that you submit to various e-newsletter publishers and article announce groups with the view of having them include your article in their e-zines. A variety of introductory e-books which act as information packs and also as viral marketing tools (spreading the word about your business). After the sale A "thank you for investing" letter. A "welcome to xyz company" package with thank you letter, "how to get the best use out of our widgets" report and some other helpful tools that nurture the relationship and offer post-purchase reassurance. This is a very powerful tool in increasing referrals and minimising refunds. A 2 week review letter with feedback form and response maximising device. A 6 month review letter asking their feedback and mentioning that you will call to review their situation. A well-thought out nurturing program with a total of 2 nurturing pieces per year (in addition to at least 4 newsletters per year) and 2 to 3 letters asking for a repeat sale (depending on your industry. A referral campaign designed to generate high numbers of direct referrals in return for an incentive. A "thanks for your referral" letter. Introductory letter to people who have been referred. Invitation to a "closed door event" - if you're in the retail industry. Newsletter - an absolute must. If most of your clients have emails, an email newsletter will suffice. "Special offer" sales letters - One of the reasons some businesses don't generate much repeat business is that they simply don't ask customers to buy from then again. As I mentioned earlier, these are the basics. Naturally, there are more you can add to this list, however this is a good starting point.
  22. Writing an ad? The tips below -- and the important warning that follows -- will help you to get the very best response. Start by choosing a single benefit of your product or service that you wish to highlight above everything else. This is your "principle selling position". To choose this, ask yourself what specific benefit makes your product or service different, better, or special. Is it the price?, the convenience? the reliability? How are you different from your competitors? Write attention-grabbing headlines. This is very important. People are overloaded with information, so they skim read -- particularly on the Internet. If your headline doesn't get their attention everything else may go unread. Your headline will often highlight your principle selling position. Write a list of all the features of your product or service then translate each of these into a benefit for the customer. One way to do this is to look at each feature in turn then ask yourself "So what?" Imagine you're a customer; why should you care about this feature? Ask yourself, "What will it do for me?" For example, don't just say that you product is fast (a feature) tell the customer that it will give them more free time (a benefit). Better still, paint a picture of them using their free time to go to the beach, read a book, or relax. Write copy that emphasizes the benefits in a way that makes an emotional connection. For example, let's say you're selling toothpaste. A feature might be that it contains fluoride. Sure, but that's boring. Rather, say it "Lessens Tooth Decay!" or even better: "Brush with Boffo and Avoid the Dentist's Drill!" See? You've turned a dull feature into a strong emotional benefit linked to people's fear of dental procedures. Isn't that more effective than "Contains fluoride"? Start with your strongest selling points. The first few paragraphs are particularly important. Use them to create a desire for your product or service by briefly touching on the major benefits it will bring the customer. You don't have to go into too much detail up front as you can expand on these benefits later. Do try to get your big guns in early, though. Testimonials sell. Good, believable testimonials from real people will help sales, particularly on the web where establishing credibility is a tough job. For even better credibility, ask your testimonial writers if you can include their contact details along with their testimonial. Write with a natural style. Don't try to be pretentious or over friendly. Just write it the way you'd say it. Decide who you're writing for and why. What tone are you trying to convey: light hearted or serious? What level of jargon are you going to employ? Suit your language to your intended audience. The final sales pitch can be strengthened with some or all of the following techniques: A good deal; e.g. "20% off". Urgency; e.g. "This week only". Risk free; e.g. "Comes with a money-back guarantee!" End by telling the reader what to do; e.g. "Ring now" or "Click here to order now for immediate delivery". Needless to say, ordering details must be clearly visible and simple to follow. Looking at these tips, it may seem that good advertising involves manipulating the emotions of your customers. Yes, it does. Selling is a blatant form of emotional manipulation that involves convincing your customer that they want to buy your product or service, and they want to do it now. Is this unethical? Well, it can be. It depends where you draw the line. In point 9 I said that your sales message could include a sense of urgency. A common ploy on the web is to include a claim like "Offer closes this Saturday". If you go back to the site the following week, though, the offer is still available. If you were tricked by such a claim, would you order from that company again? So, by all means, use the tips above to write as persuasively as you can, but remember that if you attract sales by deceiving your customers you risk legal action, poor word of mouth, no repeat business and refund requests. So, be as persuasive as you can possibly be, but avoid the temptation to be "too" persuasive.
  23. Sometimes writing that first word or sentence is the hardest part. It often seems like people need time to warm up, so they start writing meaningless words instead of addressing what the customer will get right from the beginning. We generally advise people to plan and organize the messages they want to convey and let the words flow from the plan. Even still, it can be hard to get started. To help you write the perfect introduction, we have put together a list of words. These openings can get you started by introducing your proposal, section, paragraph, or idea. You can use this list as inspiration to help get your creative juices flowing. Who, what, where, how, when, and why Who 1. Who do you know that... 2. Who do people... 3. Who is... 4. Who does... What 5. What if... 6. What is... 7. What do... 8. What a [insert compliment here] ... Where 9. Where do... 10. Where in... 11. Where is... How 12. How... 13. How many... 14. How often... 15. How do... When 16. When is/are... 17. When do... 18. When I... Why 19. Why is... 20. Why do... All About You Do you 21. Do you think... 22. Do you wish... 23. Do you realize that... 24. Do you know that... 25. Do you recognize the... Don't you 26. Don't you have... 27. Don't you just love the way... 28. Don't you just hate the way... You don't 29. You don't have to be a... 30. You don't need a... Thank You 31. thank you for contacting us regarding... 32. thank you for speaking with me regarding... If you 33. If you ... then... 34. If you could... 35. If you act quickly... 36. If you like... 37. If you want/need... Are you 38. Are you available on/for... 39. Are you interested in... 40. Are you a member of... You may 41. You may be aware... 42. You have... All About Me 43. I like the way... 44. I was impressed by... 45. I have always... 46. I found... 47. I found what you said about blank... 48. I recently noticed that... 49. One of the things I have noticed... I'd like to 50. I'd like to speak with you about... 51. I'd like to meet with you... 52. I'd like to show you... 53. I'd like to find a way... 54. I'd like to introduce... All About The Company 55. [Company Name] has a solution for... 56. [Company Name] now offers... 57. [Company Name] program/offering/products/services/etc will/enable/offer/provide... Timely 58. Recent events... 59. Recent developments... 60. Recent changes... 61. Recent improvements... 62. Recent news... 63. A recent survey... 64. For a limited time... 65. In the next few... 66. These days... 67. Now there is... Miscellaneous 68. People who... 69. There is... 70. Here is... 71. The secret of... 72. Everyone is... 73. Have you ever... 74. Just imagine... 75. Companies like yours... 76. It is now easier than ever before to...
  24. When trying to figure out how to contact a new customer prospect, you start with two problems: How do you make contact at all? How do you get to the right person(s)? You also start with several ways to solve them: Published points of contact. While these may not be the right person, they give you a place to start. And if you are careful in your online searches, you might be able to find a point of contact who is a good place to start. Networking. Who do you know that might know someone relevant? Can they make an introduction or referral? Events. Conferences and other events may provide you with an opportunity to network and meet a relevant point of contact. You don’t want to become a stalker, but a little outreach may be called for. Social networks. Can you find a relevant point of contact on LinkedIn or another social network? B2B contact lists. You can often purchase access to contact information that will give you a starting point. Database and catalog publishers like Carroll Publishing, Input, FedSources, Hoovers, and InfoUSA are examples. One you find a place to start, you need to navigate to the right person(s). There are several approaches you can take to get there. Understanding the Customer’s Organization It helps when the customer publishes their organization chart. You can often see where your current points of contact are and where you need to get to. But an organization chart doesn’t tell you how an organization really functions. So use your starting point to help you better understand how the customer’s organization really works. When the customer doesn’t publish their organization chart, you should ask them about it when you make contact. With each person you talk to, you can collect more information until you can draw their organization chart. As you talk to different people within the customer’s organization, you will probably identify multiple points of contact. It can be very helpful to have multiple points of contact because each may have a different role and perspective within the buying process. For example, you may identify one or more procurement specialists at the customer. You should also try to identify the program staff or end users who have the actual requirement. You may need to talk to both the procurement staff and the program staff to get a complete understanding of the organization’s needs and what it will take for them to become a customer. Identifying the Decision Maker(s) Often the person who has the need is not the person who has decision authority over whether or what to purchase. Sometimes you make contact with someone who has a need and a lot of interest, only the lead goes nowhere because they can’t affect a purchase. That is why making contact with the actual decision maker(s) can be important. The problem with this is that in some organizations it can be very difficult to identify the decision makers, even for those inside the organization. And when you do identify them, you often have to get past a gatekeeper in order to make contact. To identify the decision makers, consider: The organization’s structure and ranking of staff. Often a person’s rank within an organization determines their level of authority and ability to make procurement decisions. The culture at the organization. For example, in a consensus driven environment, there might not be a single decision maker, or the decision maker might require input from multiple parties. Influencers. Even in organizations with specific decision makers, there are often key people who have significant influence over or contributions to decision making. Functions and roles. Sometimes instead of rank, what matters most is the role a person plays within an organization. Policies and procedures. Organizations usually have set policies and procedures when it comes to procurement. Discovering what they are should be a priority. It can also tell you who the decision makers are. Horizontal and Vertical Strategies When you are navigating a customer’s organization, you can use horizontal or vertical strategies. Horizontal strategies involve working through peers, partners, or even competitors to identify people on the same working level in the organization. Vertical strategies involve working up and down the rank structure of the organization. One way to navigate vertically is to move up or down the ladder one rung at a time, by using your point of contact at the current level to identify the point of contact at the next level. Another approach is to go straight to the desired level. People are often unnecessarily intimidated by going straight to a high level in an organization. If what you have to say is relevant and useful to the person you wish to contact, then it’s appropriate to make contact, regardless of the level. You just need to make sure they see it that way. Which approach to take depends on the organization you are trying to navigate. Most often you will employ both strategies.
  25. The number one reason to identify the program staff and build a relationship before the need becomes a procurement is that all your contacts after that point will be with the Contracting Officer or a representative. At that point you will only get the information that the contracting office chooses to release, and it will be the same information all your competitors have. Potentially even worse, the procurement staff may not understand the technology or needs driving the procurement and thus not be able to help you understand them. Once a procurement officer is involved, you have far fewer options to learn about the opportunity. So how do you still get good, juicy intelligence? It turns out that there are ways that are fair and legal. That's important, because you don't want to cross the line and get yourself into trouble. Trying to talk directly to government program staff about the procurement is a good way to cross that line. To keep yourself out of trouble, the place to start is to make sure that you've actually tried to establish a relationship with the contracting office and have gathered all the intelligence you can from them. For example, you might ask them: Whether their procurement policies and procedures are posted on a website so you can study up If they will permit site visits and/or an industry day where you (and everyone else) can have access to the program staff Who the incumbent is and whether they will release a list of interested bidders What kind of problems they experienced on the current contact (or in the past) If a copy of the previous contract is available with or without a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request If the customer has any other documents (designs, plans, policies, procedures) that are relevant and could be made available However, you're probably not going to get the juicy stuff from the procurement office. To do that, you need to talk to someone who knows about the subject matter, but who isn't directly involved with the procurement. This might include staff: Who worked for the specific customer organization but who have retired or been transferred. These may be hard to find, but can be extremely valuable. Obviously, the more time that passes, the more stale their information will be. But they can often help you zero in on exactly how procurement decisions are made and what the customer looks for. Who work for your competitors and have experience at the customer. These can also be hard to identify. But they often love to talk about what they do. It's human nature. You might also want to try recruiting them. The best way to find out everything they know is to hire them before you start writing the proposal, instead of waiting until after submission and after you find out whether you've won. If that's too risky for you, another option is to make an offer that's contingent on whether you win. You may be surprised at what your competitors' staff will tell you if they think they're being recruited. If you don't know their names, sometimes you can post ads or hold a job fair and they'll come to you. Who work for other parts of the government, but who work with the office you are trying to market. They are not involved with the procurement, but may know about your customer's mission, culture, problems, and preferences. Who work for contractors in other areas. Since you're not competing against them (at least at the moment), they might be more willing to share what they know. None of these options are as good as talking to the relevant government program staff directly, but they're better than just reading about the customer and their needs in an RFP (Request For Proposal). They may not know details about the statement of work, but they might help you to learn about the customer's mission, culture, and preferences. You might even be able to hire them as consultants, either just to spend a few hours telling you what they know or even a few days helping you to write the proposal.
  26. You may have heard the phrase “winning the battle and losing the war.” Did you know it has relevance in business development? Well, it does when business developers focus only on winning the next contract — winning the battle — and give little consideration to winning many more contracts with the same customer. On the other hand, experienced developers focus on building lasting customer relationships to provide a solid foundation from which they can win both the battles and the war against the competition. Lasting customer relationships allow us to gain insight into and to shape their wants and needs, to mold their expectations, and to influence their requirements. Such relationships permit us to help them understand the benefits, features and advantages of acquiring our solutions and using our capabilities. By interfacing with the customer early and often in the pursuit of business, we can support the customer in building a long-term answer to their needs. Plus, we improve our competitive position along the way by learning more about what they really want and by convincing them that we’re working on their behalf. When building customer relationships, there are three goals to keep in mind: Create your relationship based on trust and dependability. Deal with your customer equitably and ethically. Always deliver what you promise the customer. Become their “Go To” team. Work with them as much as possible. Frequent customer assistance will grow your value to them. Of course, be mindful of any impacts that you might have on their schedules. Continually refine your understanding of their requirements. Integrating and verifying what you can gather about customer wants and needs will cause you to identify both the root causes of their actions and their real needs. Gather what you can about their problems/issues; what they truly value; and what pre-dispositions they might have in how they do their work and what they want to acquire. As you go about achieving your goals, strive to appreciate how the customer views the acquisition process under their management. Here are five ways to gain that appreciation and build relationships: Listen, Listen, Listen. If you’re intent on selling your company, your product or yourself, you may not hear what your customer has to say. If you let them, your customers will tell you how to win against your competition. Make inquiries in an interested/inquisitive way demonstrating that you’re focused on helping them to achieve their objectives and to get what they truly wish to acquire. Take the time to uncover their real “hot buttons”, or the things that keep them awake at night. Not all customer wants and needs become readily apparent early in a relationship. Frequent customer interactions are urged as part of Goal 2 above. During these interactions, always present yourself or your team as well-informed and educated on the topic being discussed. By doing this, you’ll increase the chances that the customer will view you as having placed their needs at the top of your “To Do” list. Extend your customer understanding into several levels of detail. Knowing the details of what steps the customer goes through to make their purchases may have a significant impact on the success of your business pursuit. Understanding who the actual proponents of the proposed program are could make your customer contact efforts efficient and cost-effective. Studying the funding source for the acquisition might allow you to uncover follow-on opportunities or the potential for transitioning a proposed one-year contact into a multi-year procurement. Pursuing good customer relationships will increase your competitive position. We urge you to employ the goals and ways suggested above, and to look at them as starting points. If you achieve these goals and then go beyond them to develop your customer relationships, you will continue to come out on top of the business competitions you enter. Good luck!
  27. Consider these three scenarios: Your project manager says that the customer likes you and that there haven’t been any complaints lately. Your business development manager says you should bid an opportunity because “the contracting officer said we should bid,” and is going to send you the RFP. An executive at your company wants to bid an opportunity because he used to play golf with an executive at the customer. Does the customer really like you? Do you have a competitive advantage? Should you bid? The only honest answer is “I don’t know.” There is as much reason to disregard each situation above as there is to accept it. Project managers don’t want to say that the customer doesn’t like them. Business developers tend to want to bid every opportunity they find. And as for executives… well let’s just say that having played golf with someone who may not even be involved in the procurement probably does not translate into an advantage. Something else you need to consider is that a great relationship with one person at the customer does not necessarily translate into any influence over the procurement selection. Is that person involved? Who else is involved? Does the customer have an internal consensus regarding what to procure or are there many opinions and/or power struggles going on? Does it matter (and will it impact the evaluation) if one person at the customer says they like you? So how can you tell when the customer likes you and when that translates into a competitive advantage? For winning business through proposals, it all comes down to whether your relationship with the customer gives you an information advantage. If you have a great relationship with the customer, but you don’t understand their needs any better than anyone else does, then unless that person gets to make the selection, your relationship doesn't matter. A great relationship with a customer that doesn't provide the information you need is not a competitive advantage. On the other hand, even if your relationship with the customer is limited, if it translates into an understanding of their needs that exceeds what’s in the RFP and gives you an advantage over your competitors, that matters a lot. So ask the project manager above about the customer's preferences, how they make trade-offs, issues they face, trends, etc. If they can’t have a discussion with the customer and come back enlightened, then your bid won’t be more insightful than anyone else’s bid. Ask the business developer above what the contracting officer told you that they didn’t tell everyone else. Ask the executive above the same questions you asked the project manager. In the off-the-shelf process documents we sell, we've built the entire pre-RFP intelligence gathering process around getting answers to questions that provide the information you need to prepare a winning proposal. Whether the customer “likes” you or not isn’t one of the considerations. Either you get the information you need or you don't. Information is vital to writing a winning proposal. Does the customer want a centralized or decentralized approach? Do they want to empower their field offices or control them? Do they see technology as a way to mitigate risk or a source of risk? Do they want to reduce staff or protect staff? Are they more concerned with short term or long term issues? Do they want a solution that is specialized and stands alone, or do they want something that's fully integrated? Do they want you to directly manage the project/staff, or do they want to directly manage the project/staff themselves? Questions like these are usually not answered in the RFP. And yet they are vital for proposing the right offering, describing it in the right context, and knowing which benefits to emphasize. Guess wrong and you lose. If the customer likes you, you’ll be able to discuss these subjects, get the answers you need, and gain the insight that will enable you to write the winning proposal. This is especially true when writing government proposals. After the RFP is released, the rules may not let them speak to you at all, and if they do they may have to say the same thing to everyone else. But if they like you, they will talk to you before the RFP is released. And if they really, really like you, they may even stretch the rules and talk to you after the RFP is released. This only works if you bother to ask the right questions. A major reason we structured the pre-RFP portion of the process the way we did was because of how often companies arrive at RFP release unprepared. If you're counting on the customer liking you and are unprepared, without the answers to the questions you need, then instead of trying to win a competition, you're looking for a gift from someone you know less well than you think you do. So forget about whether the customer likes you and focus on getting the information you need to write the winning proposal. You can measure your likelihood of winning by your ability to get that information. In fact, in our process documentation, we show you how to turn the pre-RFP process into a metrics and measurements system that really can quantify and predict the likelihood of your ability to win.
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