The Four-Part, Content to Sales Process to Turn Prospects into Buyers
I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t.
It’s a fundamental model of sales persuasion developed by direct marketers in the 1970s, though the elements go back long before that.
I learned it through a hidden copywriting underground, from one of the greatest direct mail copywriters who ever lived.
I’ve adapted it to what’s now being called content marketing, and yet the potential has always been there. That’s because the great copywriter stressed the best results came from advertising that didn’t look like advertising.
It had to appear as “content.”
This is your customer’s problem or pain.
In the health and fitness industries, this is pretty much a given. Most prospects are in some kind of pain or at least in fear of disease, old age and death.
Therefore, health-related promotions don’t spend as much time dwelling on pain and disease as sales letters in other niches. Nobody likes to think about it, but for many of our customers the issues are pain, disability and death.
Serious stuff. If we push them too hard, they can get upset and quit reading.
They’re in fear for their lives. That could be either from a current condition such as heart disease or cancer.
They might also simply fear the effects of old age and death. That’s why I’m a customer in this niche.
Therefore, it’s generally better to build up their hope. They know how it feels to have low energy. I like to remind them of how much they want to feel strong and dynamic and lively again.
The headline makes the prospect a promise.
But it’s not that simple.
First, it should not be a hypey, salesy type of promise.
“Prostate Formula will shrink your prostate down to normal in 2 weeks.”
That’s a great, big promise. But it’s obviously selling the formula. The great majority of prospects will therefore ignore it.
“Recent Study Reveals What Japanese Men Eat Daily that Keeps Their Prostate Walnut-Sized Through Their 80s.”
The promise is essentially the same, but it’s not obviously selling a product, though of course by the end of the letter you want them to buy that secret ingredient. It’s actually a news headline. It could run in The New York Times.
Another rule is that the promise must be new.
Prospects automatically discount promises they’ve seen before.
Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days worked well for Herbalife — 30 years ago.
Since the prostate news headline relates information about a new ingredient in Japanese food, that headline would work.
Many men over 50 would want to read about that Japanese study. I know I would.
At this stage, the format of the promotion should not look like traditional advertising.
In direct mail it could take the form of a magalog or bookalog. In a magazine or newspaper it could look like an advertorial. On the radio it could sound like a talk radio interview.
This is the proof.
Nobody is going to believe your product or services performs just because you say so.
If we’re still selling the prostate formula, advertised online on another site it could look like a native ad.
On your own site, it should look like news and information.
You could include lots of information about the ingredient, the study in Japan, other studies and why it reduces the size of enlarged prostates.
This is an area where content marketing works well. You explain everything about the ingredient, prostates and how and why the ingredient works.
If you can convince an older man that the ingredient really will reduce the size of his prostate, they’ll want to try it.
The convincing is the sales problem, and so that’s a job well-suited for good, useful information.
Your product and the offer.
You have a prospect with a problem.
You make a big promise about that problem, but in a way that doesn’t look like you’re trying to sell them anything.
You prove your promise works to relieve or solve the problem.
You offer them the solution.
If they really have the problem (assuming it’s a serious one), and you make a new, unique promise to solve it in a context that does not look like advertising.
And you prove your promise.
If they still don’t buy your product, they don’t have money.
Or they have an unconscious block against feeling good.
Content still plays a major role at this stage, because even after you’ve proven the promise, people will have questions.
What dose did the doctors give to men in the study?
Is the ingredient in your formula really the same as what they used in the study?
You give them all the information you need for them to decide to buy.
You set criteria. Only wildcrafted plants contain the ingredient in full-strength, yet your competition buys their ingredient from a farm, not herbal wildcrafters, as you do.
Biology as a whole, including how our bodies work (or not) is very complex.
However, some prospects want all the science even though they’re not trained to understand it. Just knowing that scientists can explain a treatment in very long words helps to reassure them.
Some people are at the opposite extreme. If you convince them something will take their pain away, they don’t want or need an explanation. Just send it to them.
Some of us are more in the middle. I for one like to know enough of the science to feel reassured something does make sense.
Content marketing accommodates all of us.
That’s the Four-Part, Content to Sales Formula
It’s the backbone of countless successful sales promotions for the past 40 years, online and off.
It starts by slipping underneath the prospect’s resistance radar by appearing to be “strictly” neutral information (as though there is such a thing).
Content marketing then captures the attentions of prospects with a new, unique factual-appearing headline that addresses their problem and makes an implied promise.
Content marketing then proves the promise.
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