Church of the Invisible Hand
Are You Burning Bridges with Your Customers?
When I was a kid, I was a huge leftist.
We grew up poor. We believed Republicans hated the poor, so we hated Republicans. We watched Mr. Burns on the Simpsons and thought every business owner was an evil, greedy capitalist, just like him.
My mom always told us not to judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. But when it came to the upper class, we had an utter lack of empathy.
As a teenager, I hated my bosses. I stole from them, envied them, and I felt exploited by them. I never empathized with them. I judged them. But I never walked a mile in their shoes.
I look around today and I see that I wasn't alone.
People are clashing in the streets over misinterpretations. People seek to write laws stifling the expression of those they disagree with. People see each other as comic book super villains on both sides of the aisle. Both sides unwilling to listen to the other.
If I was still a teenager, I'd probably be one of these idiot kids out there in a black mask, fighting the boogie man of Fascism.
In my early twenties, my brother and I started a record label, and I started learning how to market. It never turned us into millionaires, but it did open my eyes to a lot of issues I'd previously only seen from one side.
I started learning about all the taxes and regulations business owners had to navigate. I started meeting other business owners who were decent people. I started walking a mile in the shoes of people I grew up hating. And I finally started to understand what my mom meant when she would tell us that as children.
Flash forward to the current year. Finding empathy in today's political climate is like finding water in the desert. The media is biased. Politicians rarely blame both sides when conflict leads to tragedy. And groups of well intending people are pitted against each other in a race to see who can pass the most laws the fastest.
The lack of empathy is killing this country. And if you're not careful, a lack of empathy can spell doom for your business as well.
When most businesses run a promotion, it's to get rid of excess inventory. A commercial comes out and says something to the effect of "we bought too much, so we're having a sale." This kind of promotion is all about the needs of the business owner and ignores the needs of the customers. Total lack of empathy.
Another thing I see too often is an ad that talks all about the features of a product and does nothing to relate how those features will benefit the buyer. This type of advertising screams out "I understand what I want to sell, but I have no understanding of your needs." Again, a total lack of empathy.
The last example I'm going to give is what I call "sloppy copy." It's when a copywriter just follows a template to create their sales copy, without doing any real research on the target market.
Call to action? Check.
Deep market research so we can empathize with and speak directly to our buyers? Ain't nobody got time for that.
This lack of empathy will kill the performance of your ads. Yet this is exactly the kind of laziness business owners accept from their copywriters, all the time. Maybe it's because we've become so lazy in our thinking and empathy skills in so many other areas of life.
I mean, we don't try to understand the motives of those we're at war with. We don't try to understand the feelings of those we protest against. Most of us don't even try putting ourselves in the shoes of our significant others. So why on earth would we take the time to empathize with our customers?
Well, when your ads flop and your customers ignore your latest promotion, you'll understand why.
Great sales copy isn't about fill-in-the-blank templates. It's not about magic words that trick people into buying. Great copy is about understanding your buyer. It's about having empathy.
If you're ready to do the hard work and get the results that come along with it, then stop wasting your money on these sub par copywriters. Let me write your next promotion, and see how much a little empathy can do for you. Better sales copy is one click away.
Written by Nathan Fraser Direct Response Copywriter Marketing Consultant High Priest of Propaganda
People Don't Want Freedom (So Don't Give It to Them)
As Americans, we place a lot of emphasis on how much we value our freedom.
But is that really the case?
I contend that people like the illusion of freedom much more than they like actual freedom. They prefer the illusion of choice way more than the reality of having to choose.
Look at the electoral process.
Most people don't want to choose between 35 different candidates? That's a lot of work. Instead, they let the two main parties narrow down their choice to one candidate from either side. Then, they let their favorite mainstream opinion maker tell them which is the right one for them.
They don't want to choose. They just want the illusion of choice.
This is the case in marketing as well.
A lot of people think you gotta give your customer a wide variety of options to choose from. After all, if you fail to provide that one option that's right for them, you might miss out on a customer.
But you'd be wrong.
In mid-2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper proved something that I've been preaching for years. Mainly, people don't want more choices. They claim that they do, but they don't.
So here's the story.
The two head shrinks set up shop in an upscale supermarket to hawk some Jam on passersby. The experiment ran for two days with only one variable being tested. They would sample jams to anyone interested and offer a $1 off coupon if the taster decided to make a purchase.
Here's the catch. On one day, they had 24 flavors of gourmet jam to choose from. On the other day, they had only six.
More people stopped and sampled the jam when the larger display was out. As far as getting interest, more choice was the obvious winner. But not so when it came to sales.
In fact, even though fewer people stopped to sample when there were only six jars to choose from, ten times as many people bought.
There's a couple reasons why.
First, people fall victim to "analysis paralysis"." If a choice requires too much work, we'd rather make no choice at all. That's why you can walk in the door, see a pile of laundry, a stack of dirty dishes, a pile of unopened mail, and say "fuck it, I'm watching Netflix."
The second factor is something known as buyers remorse. The more options we have, the more likely we are to question our decision after we make it.
"Did I really get the right one?"
"Should I take it back and exchange it for the other one?"
It's something we've all gone through, and it's something we'll do our best to avoid in the future. We want to feel confident in our decision, and having too many options makes that impossible.
That's why sales pages limit you to three options: lowest tier, medium tier, and highest tier. Then, they tell you the tier that most people like you end up choosing. So really, there is no choice. There's the illusion of choice. And then there's the one they tell you to choose.
What's true about elections is true for sales pages.
People don't want to choose. They want to feel like they have the freedom of choice. But they don't want the responsibility of choosing.
If your business offers ten different services for people to choose from, you're losing sales. If you offer more than four plans to choose from, you're losing sales. If you have more than three ways to pay, you're missing out on payments. It's just that simple.
People don't want too much freedom. Stop giving it to them.
How to Fear-Monger for Fun and Profit
I once heard a prominent fear-monger in the "truth" community make this analogy.
While defending his sensationalized way of reporting, he said he was not fear-mongering. He claimed that "if your house is on fire, and I'm warning you to get out, that's not fear-mongering." And it raised some interesting questions for me.
I don't like to fear-monger. And I feel bad about the times in the past when I did.
Maybe it's that I don't like wasting energy on things I can't control. Especially when there are things I can control, that could use that energy.
Maybe it's that I don't like to take on anything with a defeatist attitude. I feel like a lot of the "truther" doom and gloom sets people up for failure. You don't send your team into a game, convinced that the other team has already won. And that's what a lot of these "truth" mouthpieces are doing.
Can I stop putting the word "truth" in quotes now? You get my point.
Anyways, in my content, I have always been careful not to be guilty of fear-mongering. And now I'm starting to rethink my previous condemnation.
So, there are two different ways to sell an idea.
You see this in every movement. You see this in every bit of direct response copywriting. You have to agitate the situation, and then promise a solution.
I've heard Ben Settle say that you gotta get into your customers pain point, and you gotta rub salt in that wound.
Ray Edwards says you need to know your customer's pain point. You have to explain it to them, better than they can explain it to themselves. And then you have to show them how bad it can get if they don't fix the issue.
Now, this is one part of copywriting that I've always found distasteful. I do it, but I always feel kinda dirty about it. Until today.
So, here's the deal.
I'm re-writing my sales page, over at Podcast Blastoff. And so I'm going over a bunch of articles and interviews about sales pages. And I heard someone explain it in a way that I never thought about it. The part that I always thought of as fear-mongering, that is.
He said this, and I'm paraphrasing;
People tend to suffer in silence.
They don't want to talk about their problems. Either because they don't want to burden others, they're embarrassed, or a bunch of other reasons.
And here's what a lot of us do. We know we have a problem. We know we need to fix it. But we don't talk to anybody about it, and we have no idea on how to fix it.
So we ignore it. It sits in the corner, all blurry and confusing looking. And we pretend it's not there.
So, now you're selling something that will solve that problem.
Maybe it's a societal problem, and you're selling a new way of thinking to solve it.
Maybe it's a lack of information, and you're selling a course to teach people.
Maybe it's a lack of buttons problem... Well, I'm not sure if that's a thing.
Anyways, someone has a problem, and they're ignoring it. And you have a solution, but it does them no good if you can't get them to buy. To help them, you have to put them in a mindset to take action.
So, how do you do that?
Well, you reverse engineer.
You know what their problem is. And you know the reason they haven't taken action yet is because it's still out of focus for them. There's a monster in the corner of the room, and they either can't see it clearly, or are choosing not to look.
So you have to make it clear for them. You gotta point out the fangs. You gotta describe the glowing red eyes. You have to bring the threat into focus. You gotta make so they can no longer pretend it isn't there.
If you can do that, they'll be ready to solve their problem. And they'll assume that you know the solution. They might even beg for you to sell it to them. And you should.
Just as long as what you're selling will really solve the problem. And that's where the trouble comes into play.
The technique works.
I use it, and I see results. But I also see other people use it to sell false promises.
I see televangelists use it to sell tickets to Heaven. I see politicians use it to sell greater restrictions on freedom. I see opportunity marketers use it to sell git-rich-kwick schemes. And I see professors use it to sell failed social systems to impressionable college kids.
It works. No doubt about it. But I think I dislike it for how often it's been abused.
But just because people can abuse it, does that mean you shouldn't use it in your marketing?
Obviously, I use it. And up until today, I did so with a heavy conscience. But now I'm re-thinking my position.
What say you?