Church of the Invisible Hand
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.
Written by Nathan Fraser Direct Response Copywriter Marketing Consultant High Priest of Propaganda
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?
3 Simple Steps to Lasso up More Lifers
What I'm about to tell you will explain why I'm the most requested cake decorator at my bakery.
It'll also help you understand why smart business owners are happy to pay me hundreds of dollars and hour to work with me.
This is my super-secret formula for creating loyal customers and clients. Are you ready?
So a lady walks into my bakery.
Her daughter’s wedding is in a few months, and she's shopping around for the best cake she can find. It's her daughter’s big day, and she'll settle for nothing but the best. She's already been to three other bakeries, and she's starting to worry that she'll have to go outside of town to find the cake she needs.
She explains to me that nobody seemed to want to work with her. She then pulls out a picture she printed off the internet and shows it to me. Wow! It's a doozie. But I tell her I've got her covered.
What she wants is a Western themed wedding cake. Lassos for borders, cactus's (cacti?), a mountain range silhouetted around the sides of the cake, capped with a beautiful sunset. I instantly see why others hesitated.
So, we start talking.
I tell her how I would do the lassos. I explain how I'll accomplish the sunset and mountain range. I even make some suggestions on how we could make the cake better than the one in the picture. I let her know that I got this, that she can rest at ease, and that the cake is gonna look as beautiful as her daughter will in her wedding dress.
Her transformation was visible. She came in stressed out, angry, and on the brink of tears. She left with a giant smile on her face, fighting back tears of joy.
When the special day arrived, her and the father showed up to get the cake. They were grateful, and she was blown away. Her husband was impressed, paid for the cake, and left me a big fat tip. All in a day’s work.
Ever since then, I'm the only decorator they'll trust with a cake. Birthdays, anniversaries, whatever the occasion, I'm guaranteed their business. They ask for me by name. And I have over a hundred loyal customers who do the same.
This is why it's been hard for me to take that final step and leave my cake decorating skills behind me.
But here's the point. This same method is how I land multi-thousand dollar marketing clients. The same approach I take with my bakery customers also works with skeptical business owners. And in case you didn't fully catch it, I'll lay it out for you.
Be helpful. Be happy to work with them and get to know their needs.
Be sincere. Let them know that you have their best interest at heart, and you will meet their needs.
Be confident. If you are confident you can help, they will be confident you can help.
There's no manipulation techniques. There's no 17 ways to close the sale. There's no long, drawn out sales funnel process. There's just those three steps. When it comes to face-to-face selling, that's all I ever need.
At the end of Step 3, people are happy to hand over their money.
It's not sexy. It's not ninja. But it works.
It's honest and it's real. And that's what people want.