AMY PORTERFIELD: Hey there! Amy Porterfield here, and welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. As always, I am thrilled that you're here with me today. Now today, we are talking about my Number 2 favorite topic when we are talking about growing an online business.
Can you guess what my Number 1 topic is? Can you guess? Well, if you said Facebook, or Facebook ads…that’s actually not right! What it is, is growing an email list. But because I teach Facebook and Facebook ads to help you grow your email list, you were pretty close, so you get a gold star, too.
But list building is my favorite favorite topic to talk about. And throughout all of the programs I sell, I teach a lot of list building.
But the thing is, copywriting is a close Number Two, and one day, it might just beat out Number One. The reason being is, once you have a list, if you don’t know how to write great copy, well then you’re in trouble!
And I’ll tell you that sometimes people feel very stressed about the copy. Like “Ugh, now I’ve got to sit down and write sales copy for my sales page or for my sales video or for my emails!” And that’s a very overwhelming feeling. Almost like inadequate, like you just aren’t good enough, you don’t know how to write copy.
The reason that I tell you that you might feel that way is because I have definitely felt that way. I’ve struggled with copy for a long time. Lately, over the last year or two, I feel like I’ve mastered it—I feel like I’ve gotten really good for my audience at copy. So the reason for that, though, is because I became a student of copy, and I’ll talk about that a little bit later.
But the thing is, copy is so very valuable, and it doesn’t have to be such a stresser. And the reason for that is if you really become a student of it, and you learn what needs to happen for you to sit down and feel really confident in writing great copy that gets your audience to pay attention, everything in your business starts to feel a little bit better. Like you have this really great confidence and things start to run a little bit more smoothly.
One of my teachers has been Ray Edwards. He is a fantastic, fantastic copywriter. He’s actually been on the show but today we’re going to go deeper. I want to talk about it even more because it’s a hot topic—a lot of you ask about what emails to write, and how to write them, and what to write on a sales page, or what to put in a video script.
I know it’s at the forefront of your mind. Th thing is the reason I wanted to bring Ray on again is because one, I mentioned this in the first episode, but Ray worked with me when I worked at Tony Robbins. He wrote a sales letter for us.
Now the thing is Ray gets paid anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 to write sales copy. So we paid him a lot of money…I shouldn’t say we…Tony Robbins paid him a lot of money to write a really great sales letter. And it was cool because this sales letter actually ended up on the chairs at the UPW events—Unleash the Power Within events.
So if you’ve ever been to a Tony Robbins event, and if you went years ago, you might have showed up and after a break, and there was a sales letter on your chair, and there was a crisp $1 bill stapled to the top of it. Crazy, right? Because there were a lot of people in the room. We would stay up the night before and tons of people would be stapling these brand new crisp $1 bills to these sales letters.
But the sales letter was all about a program Tony had at the time called New Money Masters. That’s the program Tony did where he got Eben Pagan, Jeff Walker, Frank Kern, Marie Forleo, to actually talk about how they’ve grown their online business and what they do in their online business. So it was an awesome, awesome product.
Well, Ray wrote the sales letter for that, and the dollar was about “new money.” So that was a cool thing that we did there. I think that was actually Frank Kern’s idea. It was brilliant, it got people to pay attention.
So to put it lightly, Ray Edwards is kind of a big deal. The guy knows his stuff, and he has such a smooth style. You’ll see it when he jumps on here. But I’m really, really excited to welcome him back on.
So before we go any further, I’ll tell you one more thing. This episode is brought to you by LeadPages. Now because list building is my Number One favorite topic, of course I would be obsessed with a list-building tool. And that is LeadPages.
I recently recorded a brand new webinar. So it used to be a mini-training about LeadPages; I’ve replaced it with a webinar of how to use LeadPages. Literally some step-by-step in there, and also a bunch of examples of ways to grow your email list with this tool. So if you want to check out that webinar, just go to amyporterfield.com/newleads, and you can check out all the details.
Okay, so I won’t make you wait any longer. Let’s go ahead and jump in.
Amy: Ray Edwards, thanks so much for being here with me today. I really appreciate it.
Ray: Well thank you, Amy! I’m excited to be here with you.
Amy: Well first of all, I said in the intro that we go way, way back. But even so, you’ve been on the show before, and I don’t have a lot of repeat guests. But I wanted to have you on again because copywriting is a hot topic with my audience, and everybody’s looking for a way to get better, and they have questions about it, and it’s just…quite honestly, it’s a tough topic sometimes.
I know that I’ve struggled with it and have actually gotten better and better with it over the years, but I think it’s something that takes time. So thanks so much for coming on the show, because this is one of my favorite topics and I really am glad that you are the guy that’s talking about it, so thanks again.
Ray: Well you’re so welcome and I’d just like to say that you are an outstanding copywriter.
Amy: Wow—coming from you, that means the world to me. Thank you.
Ray: I read your copy and I just think “Wow, you really get this. You understand it.” So you do a great job.
Amy: Wow, thank you. And you know one thing that I’ve been doing, and I know we’ll probably talk about this, is that I’m really trying to understand my audience more and more. And the more I get them, the easier this all becomes. I’m sure you’ve had that experience.
Ray: That’s the big secret.
Amy: It is! And it’s tough to really get to know your audience and you’ve got to, you know, get in there for a while, and really take the time. But anyway, we’ll get to all that. First I want to start at the very, very top, and I want you to explain to us what is copywriting, and why is it so important for us to really understand what it’s all about.
Ray: Well funny story, I was doing a workshop and we had about a hundred people in San Diego last year. And this young man comes up on day two of the workshop and says to me, “Hey, my mom made me come to this, and I was excited because she told me it was about copywriting.”
I said “Well, great! I’m glad to hear that.” And he said “Yeah but I thought that you were going to help me…I’m a rapper, and I wanted to get my rap songs copyrighted…”
Ray: Yes, yes. And he said “So I was totally blown away that this was not anything like what I thought it was going to be. But I love this! This is really fun and exciting!” So it was pretty interesting that this guy who’s into rap music thought that writing sales copy was fun.
But it’s a point of confusion that comes up. People think that when I say that I’m a copywriter or I do copywriting, often they will say “Well, I wrote a book once and how do I get that copyrighted? Do I have to file all the paper with the government?”
And I have to explain “No, that’s a different subject.” What we’re talking about is writing ad copy or sales copy to sell your products or your services or your ideas.
Nowadays, it’s easier for me, because I can say “Have you ever watched the show Mad Men?” “Well yes, I have.” “Well, they write copy.” “Oh, I get it, I understand. You write the stuff that sells products and services.” Yes, exactly.
Amy: That’s good. You know I’m a huge fan of “Mad Men,” so anytime you bring that up, my ears perk up. So yeah, now you’ve got a great way to segue into it when people want to know. But I think that it is confusing. And a lot of the time, when I was first starting out, it was just a weird word to me. Like, how is it different than writing? And so if someone were to say, “Well, if I need to write an ebook, that’s not copywriting.” Yes or no?
Ray: I would say yes.
Amy: Okay, good. But you’re not necessarily selling something in the ebook…at least, maybe at the end, but let’s the say the “meat” of that ebook. Why is that copywriting versus creative writing?
Ray: Well, there’s two levels that I think about this on. The first level is, there’s sales copywriting, which is where we write the copy that is on the sales page, where we ask people to press a button and buy something from us. That’s definitely copywriting, and people understand that.
On the other level, though, I believe that all writing is meant to persuade people either that they can do something or that they should do something. So we’re empowering them, we’re saying “You can be a better person! You can have a better relationship! You can do Facebook advertising.”
That’s empowering. Or we’re trying to be persuasive and we’re saying “You should be an entrepreneur. You should spend more time with your spouse and it should be quality time.” So we’re persuading them that they should do something.
So even if we’re writing a book that is an empowering book…like we both know of this guy named Tony Robbins who has this book called “Awaken the Giant Within.”
Ray: And that book is copy because it’s selling people first on the idea that they can awaken the giant that’s sleeping inside themselves, and then it sells them on how to do it. Even though it’s not specifically selling a product, you’re selling an idea. So at that level, I think everything we do is writing copy.
Amy: Okay, I love it. I love looking at your business as though every time you’re writing, you’re writing copy. So that leads me to my next question. So my second question is this: what about those big, long, really hype-y sales pages with the big headlines and the red marks and the yellow highlighters, all of that? Talk to me about that.
Ray: So my friends over at Copyblogger—Brian Clark and Sonia Simone—they refer to those as “the yellow highlighter crowd.”
Amy: So true.
Ray: And I used to write copy like that on the internet. In the early days of selling on the internet, we wrote sales copy and we used those devices that were really a carryover from direct mail, and still, today, in direct mail sales copy, you will get a magazine subscription solicitation or something like that, and it looks like somebody wrote on it with a marker or with a highlighter, and we all know they didn’t.
We know that it’s done by a machine. There’s not like somebody writing on tens of thousands of letters with a highlighter in their hand. But it made it feel like it had the human touch.
Well, on the internet, that really makes no sense at all! Because nobody put a yellow highlighter on my screen and highlighted a portion of the text. So those days are gone. Those were the days of…I think of them as the Wild West days of selling on the internet, when people just did all this crazy stuff and it worked because nobody had ever seen it before.
Today, we have to be more sophisticated because our audience is sophisticated. I credit my audience…I try to think of my audience as being just as smart or smarter than me, and I want to speak to them in the way that I want to be spoken to, and I want the material that I’m presenting to be pleasant to look at. And it has to be—it has to look good.
And so like your sales materials, that your readers and listeners are familiar with, and students, are very classy looking. They’re designed well. They’re aesthetic, and pleasing to look at. And that’s what we’re talking about in terms of aesthetics.
But still, the words on the page need to be persuasive, so that people can understand that they need to buy your product or your service or the ideas that you’re selling.
Amy: So the design and the copy kind of go hand in hand now.
Ray: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if you…you can have the world’s greatest, most important message, but if it looks like junk mail, it’s going to go in the trash can. Literal or digital.
Amy: So true. So I’m so glad you brought that up because some people…I guess it was more years ago, but some people would tell me “Design’s not that big of a deal. Don’t worry about that.” And now you just can’t get away with that. So you can’t get away with bad design. So I’m glad you brought that up.
So here’s the deal—I kind of know the answer to this, but I’m kind of wanting to get deep with this copywriting thing, and what about if we just want to sell something? And we say “Here’s what we’re selling, here’s the price, if you want to buy it, buy it.” Why do we need so much persuasion with it?
Ray: Well, we all want to live in that ideal world.
Amy: Wouldn’t it be nice?
Ray: Yeah, where we could just say “Here’s the thing that I have, it’s wonderful, and buy it” and people would just buy it. The thing people would love to do is be like Apple, and just have a product that they release and the world lines up outside your door at 12:01 in the morning to buy it.
But the truth is even Apple has to write copy. The reason that we don’t think of them as writing copy is because they do it so elegantly that we miss that it’s copy. When they do a presentation, when they have their annual presentation of their upcoming products and the announcements that they’re making about their new stuff, like the new Apple watch that just came out, well that’s copywriting.
They’re just presenting it in a context, and in a framework that doesn’t feel sales-y to us. But it is persuasive, because they’ve been telling us for months before the Apple watch came out the benefits of what that watch is and what it will do.
They’ve been trickling the information out piece by piece, and building the anticipation. And while we may not take as much time to do that as Apple does for their products—although we could—we do the same things when we’re selling effectively online.
And the fact is, we have to be persuasive, I think, Amy, because it’s a noisy world. I’ve seen estimates that we each receive, individually, as many as three thousand messages per day that are trying to sell or persuade us of something. Three thousand! So what we’ve learned to do is tune them all out.
But if you want to cut through the clutter and get your message heard, you have to be persuasive. And I think where people get nervous, especially with copywriting and direct response selling, is they get confused about persuasion versus manipulation.
Amy: Yes. Let’s talk about it.
Ray: So when you get to the point where you’re being manipulated, you start to feel that icky, kind of sales pressure thing, where you know they’re pushing you into a corner, and you don’t like it, but it works, because it puts pressure on you.
I like to define the difference between persuasion and manipulation this way: persuasion results in you making a buying decision that you will celebrate later; manipulation leads to you making a buying decision that you will regret later.
Amy: So how do you make sure that you stay out of that manipulation area when you’re writing your copy?
Ray: Well, it comes back to what you said at the beginning of this conversation—that is, you’ve really got to understand the people that you’re writing to, the people that you’re selling to. Your tribe, your customers, your clients, your readers. And it sounds trite—it’s the thing that I tell people, that they often nod and say “Yes, yes, Ray, that is so wise…”
Ray: …and they don’t do it! They don’t take the time to get to know their people. And what getting to know them means is talking to them. Spending time with them.
You know, I’ve seen when you speak at an event, you spend time with the people that are there to see you, you talk with them, you laugh, you joke, you listen to what they have to say, you take their feedback, you do it on your Q&A calls, and you’re getting to know them and listening.
I know you—I know you’re listening to what they’re talking about, what they’re saying, the language that they use. And so when you sit down to write your sales copy, when you’re going to say “Here’s the thing I have, please buy it from me,” you’re writing it not from your perspective.
As the seller or the producer of the product, my perspective is “I made this thing, I want you to buy it so I can make a lot of money.” Well, that has zero value for the person on the other end of the communication. It really does.
Ray: They may like you, they may think you’re a neat person, but what they’re interested in is “I have a pain, and I would like relief from my pain.” Maybe my pain is “I need more clients to come to my website, so I need to learn how to make Facebook ads that produce results”—that’s my pain.
So when you think of the problem that you're solving, and you write about it from the perspective of the person who has the problem, and you can describe their pain…
Someone once said that the more accurately you can describe the pain of the person you’re selling to, the more they feel as though you automatically have the solution to the problem.
Amy: Oooh—say that one more time.
Ray: The more accurately you can describe the pain of the person you’re selling to, the more they feel automatically that you have the solution to the problem.
Amy: That’s good stuff. That’s knowing your audience. And have you ever read the book—I mentioned this in another podcast I did—called Great Leads? Have you heard of that book?
Ray: Oh, yes, I love that book.
Amy: It’s good, right?”
Ray: Yes, yes, it’s really fantastic.
Amy: Okay, in full disclosure, I picked up the book—Derek Halpern suggested it to me
—and I thought it was about getting leads! Growing your email list. I thought “Great! This is awesome!” But it’s not. I said this in another podcast, but I feel like I kind of got it wrong. Explain what a lead is, in your world.
Ray: It’s how you begin writing the sales copy. It’s how you open up the copy that draws the reader into the story of the sale that you're about to make to them. So there’s different ways you can lead into your copy.
You can lead with a story. You can lead with a presentation of market facts—like I could start, if I was going to sell a product based about how to have better advertising, I could say “You live in a world where the average person is inundated with 3,583 messages per day, based on data from the US Advertising Bureau” or some other place that I drew the information from. That would be a market data lead.
It’s just how you start the sales presentation, or the copy.
Amy: And it makes such a difference.
Ray: Yeah, it makes a complete difference because really, if you don’t grab their attention in the lead, they’re never going to read the rest of the copy.
Amy: Yes. I learned a lot from that book, and based on, you know, I’ve always learned from you, and so taking from what you’ve shown me and what you’ve taught me about copywriting, and then reading this book, kind of all came to light.
Like “Okay! Yes, I see it in action.” Because they give tons of examples in the book. But what made me just think of that is getting back to what you were saying, and they were talking about in the book, that if you get them at an emotional place, like you understand them, kind of like what you’re saying, if they feel like you understand their pain in whatever it is, the selling part is the easy part.
Ray: Oh, absolutely.
Amy: And that, to me, is so refreshing, because I don’t particularly love to sell. I mean, I love to sell my programs because I think that they make an impact for people, but you know, we all get in…and I know we’re going to talk about it in a moment, because I’m going to lead you there…is we get into this thing where “I don’t want to be too sales-y, or too spammy, or anything like that,” and so if I’m just writing about their emotions, and meeting them where they’re at, that’s the kind of stuff I love. Because you’re right
—the selling just comes really easy, at that point.
Ray: Well there’s plenty of brain science that tells us that almost all, if not all, of our decisions are made emotionally.
Ray: And all the rationale that we come up with is to support the emotional decision that we’ve already made. I think this is one of the greatest, most encouraging things about being an entrepreneur or a business owner today. Because Amy, when people come to your site, they arrive at your website or at your webinar or at your Facebook page already emotionally attached to the idea that Amy has the answer to my problem!
Ray: Amy has the solution! See, they’re on your side. You’re not in a contest with your readers or your prospects…I don’t even like calling them prospects, I like to call them “potential partners.”
Ray: Because they’re coming to you hoping, praying, that you have the solution to their problem, and it’s up to you to mess that up. Because we get all pushy and we’re not thinking about their best interest, then that’s what throws the whole communication off.
But if you can just support the emotions that they’re feeling, and you can do it with integrity— you really do have the solution—then you don’t really ever have to sell hard, or even push to sell. You just give the persuasive story of why what you have is going to help them, and they’ll make a buying decision.
Amy: So true. So well said. I love listening to every word you say, Ray. It just kind of comes out of your mouth so easily—it’s so perfect. So with that, how do we put this all into action? You know, how do we let it make a difference for what we’re doing in our business?
Ray: Well, the first thing that comes to mind, that could be the most effective for anybody listening right now, would be when you write emails.
Amy: Yes, I was hoping you’d bring that up.
Ray: And what we forget about writing emails is about the person on the other end of the email. We think we’re sending a message to our list, and that’s going to result in people signing up for a webinar or buying something.
But think about how you yourself process email. When you sit down in front of your computer, or when you pop open your phone and look at your email, there’s a bunch of emails that you skip automatically, you automatically delete.
Those are the ones that you know are sales-y or that are junk mail or that you’ll look at later, you tell yourself. And you never do. But then there are other emails that you read automatically. You open them. And some of those are from people we call friends.
And so I have this brilliant theory that we should write emails to our prospective partners as if they were our friends. And you know, friends don’t send an email that looks like a coupon cut out of a magazine to another friend.
Amy: Good point.
Ray: Right? We don’t send…if I send an email to my friend Amy, it doesn’t look like an ad, it looks like an email to my friend Amy.
Ray: And so that is just putting yourself in the state of the person who’s receiving your email. What are they going to be receptive to? And you might be talking about something that’s very business related, very commercially related, like Facebook advertising, or copywriting, or paid advertising, or any of the things your listeners might be interested in receiving emails about, but they open your emails, I’m sure, because your emails are very personable, they don’t look like ads.
And the first thing I like to do is tell people “Look at the subject lines from the emails that you open from your friends, and tell me what they look like.” Chances are they’re not all capitalized—the first letter of every word is not capitalized. Chances are it doesn’t say “24 Hours Only” or “Sale!” or have some weird word in brackets and all caps.
That’s not how friends send email to friends. Often an email from a friend may say something as simple as “Take a look at this” or “You’re not going to believe this” or “This is crazy.” So those are three examples of email subject lines that will get people to open the email, because it looks like a real email from a real person.
Now if they open the email and it looks like a coupon or an ad, they’re going to feel tricked, and that’s not in your best interest either. So you’ve got to make the content of the email consistent with the subject line, and you’ve got to let it continue to look like a real email. That’s why I love the way you format your emails, because they just look like a plain email that I would get from a friend or from an acquaintance. They don’t have a lot of fancy graphics and borders and flashing video things and…
Amy: I was going to ask you about that. How do you feel about people having like the header, but it’s a graphic? I don’t do that, but I know some people do, so they’re probably thinking like “Well is that gonna…is that deterring people from reading my emails, when they open it up?”
Ray: I think it does.
Amy: Yeah, I do too.
Ray: Because it looks like an ad. It looks more like a corporate email. Now there are some people that do it and they succeed with it really well.
Like we have a mutual friend, Mike Hyatt, who all of his emails have his header graphic. Well, he’s been doing that from the very beginning, since he’s been sending emails. So I feel that he’s sort of trained his readers to know “I’m sending you high- quality stuff and it always looks like this.”
For that particular case, it’s more about the association people have made with what they see, so they see that look and feel and it makes them think of Mike Hyatt and they feel good. They’re like “Oh! He’s going to send me something good, so I’ll read it.”
But I think for most of us, the answer is it needs to look like a real email. I don’t send emails that have the big header graphic on it, with my logo and so forth. I send an email to my list that looks like an email from a friend. And I write conversationally. I don’t write in pushy ad language. I write like a human being to another human being.
So I might say “Hey, I just made a video for you. I think you would enjoy it. Click here to take a look at it and let me know what you think!” And here’s a bizarre concept, Amy: when people reply to our emails, we actually answer them.
Amy: Yes. That’s huge!
Ray: That’s crazy talk, but that’s what we do.
Amy: That is huge. So you mean that when somebody actually replies to one of your emails, maybe even you’re selling something or you’re sending them to a blog, and they ask a question, you’re answering them back?
Ray: Yes. They get an email back immediately that says “We get a lot of emails, this is an automated response to let you know we got your email and somebody will get in touch with you very shortly.” And our goal is to answer within 24 hours or less with a real, personal answer to their question or whatever they’re writing about.
Amy: Fantastic. I love it. That just all about building relationships and I will tell you guys, when you’re listening, that’s what Ray’s about. And if you’ve never been on his email list, if you wanna see how it’s done, like how you talk to a friend even when you’re selling… because my next question, Ray, I’ll get you ready but then I want to say something before that…my next question is going to be how do you write emails that sell without seeming spammy? So you can marinate on that for a second.
But what I want to say is that like every episode I do, I have a PDF free giveaway, and this time Ray offered to do the PDF for me, which I really appreciate. I’ll talk about it at the end but I will say that in his free PDF giveaway, he’s giving away three email templates. And one of those templates is how to build rapport and goodwill. So you can use that as a template just to kind of see how he does it, and then make it your own.
There’s other templates; we’ll talk about that later. You can get it at rayedwards.com/ amy. So really easy—rayedwards.com/amy. Ray did the free PDF for today’s episode, so thank you, Ray, for that.
Ray: Oh, you’re welcome. I’m so excited to get that into people’s hands. And because I know they’ll use it and they’ll get excited because they’ll see results. And the way that I love to write sales emails that don’t feel like sales emails is what I call the Story Proof Principle framework.
Ray: It goes like this: you tell a story, you give proof that it’s true and that what you told in the story is accurate, and then you illustrate the principle from the story.
So it might be something like this: it might be, I might say, I have a friend who was under the gun to write a book. They were under contract to write this book, and they had had 12 months to write the book and they had 30 days remaining until the deadline and they hadn’t written a single word. So we got on the phone and I walked them through a process of making an outline for their book and told them exactly how they could build out the outline, dictate the book in audio, have it transcribed, and edit the material and have the manuscript finished within less than a week.
My friend took my advice, they did the work, they had their first draft done within a single week, they had two weeks later, they had their final draft turned in a week early ahead of their deadline, and the deal was done. Their book is published. And they lived happily ever after. That’s the story.
The principle in the email, I would say the principle behind this is the idea that if you have a system, and enough motivation to get something done, it’s possible to actually do it. And we have so many opportunities in our life to procrastinate, and we get under pressure, and we’ve all done it, but we’re able to get things done much more rapidly.
The next time you find yourself backed into a corner with time, with a deadline, with pressure to get something done, just remember what happened with my friend and the book. Break down the pieces of the task, make it systematic, get motivated, do the work, and you can get the thing done in the short amount of time you have left before your deadline.
So I might…that’s a rough story, but I might tell that story. And then at the end of the story, after I’ve given the proof, I’ve illustrated the principle, I might say “By the way, if you’re interested in writing a book in 30 days or less, we have a program that teaches you how to do exactly that. That’s how I knew what to tell my friend. Click here to learn more about that. Until next week, this is your friend Ray Edwards; have a great one.”
Amy: Fantastic. I love that!
Ray: That oh by the way link at the end of your email can sell lots and lots of product, and you can literally do that kind of email every day of the week. In fact I have a couple of friends who do just that. And their list never complains that they’re being sold to all the time, because every email feels like content, because it is.
But the story creates a desire in the mind and heart of the buyer to make the purchase. It’s like, one of the greatest advertising campaigns ever done for naval aviation…
Ray: …was a movie called “Top Gun.”
Amy: Ha ha. So true.
Ray: It told a story, and the…you can go back and look historically, I think that’s still the highest peak of potential applicants for the naval aviation program in the history of the program.
Amy: That’s so cool. And you know, great copywriting does just that, where even if you're being sold to, you don’t feel like it, or you could care less because it’s so good that of course you want to go check out that link. Like I want to go check out that link right now and I don’t even want to write a book! You have such a way of telling stories and making them make sense and making them practical, and just really…and this is Ray’s personality, too.
So I think it’s really interesting, because your personality comes through in all your emails, but Ray’s a really easygoing guy. Like I’ve been with him in real life, and nothing pushy or aggressive about him. So your selling style is so perfect for the “by the way.” And the fact that it does so well, even so, I love that you share that with other people.
Ray: Well, and I’m all about sharing the best way to communicate how to sell our products and services, because I have this deep belief that…and this is kind of a sidetrack…but I have this deep belief that the problems that we face in the world today, the problems of hunger and poverty and disproportionate wealth in some places and people who are struggling in other places, of violence, of governments that are doing things they shouldn’t, I think all those problems are not going to be solved by politicians.
I think they’re going to be solved by entrepreneurs and people like the ones who listen to your show and who follow your teachings, who are creating a business and creating wealth of your own.
And you may not be setting out to be a multi-billionaire or anything like that, but … you may just think you’re just making a living for your family, or making a decent living out of your business. But you’re creating wealth, and it’s going out into the economy and it changes the world. And we have a friend that I know we both love dearly named Stu McClaren.
Ray: Who, he’s an entrepreneur who does very well, and what does he do with a great deal of the wealth that’s generated through his endeavors? He builds schools for kids in Africa. And that’s why I love talking about this stuff, that’s why I’m passionate about helping people sell their products, their ideas, their services, because that’s how we’re going to change the world for the better.
Amy: So very true. When you have a calling like that, it’s pretty dang good to wake up in the morning and do your work, right?
Amy: Good stuff. Okay, so, I have another question for you as it relates to sales copy. So we talked about sales copy in emails, but do you also write the longer sales copy the same way as your emails? Or is there like a different approach? And when I say “longer sales copy,” like a really long sales page copy.
Ray: Yes. There’s a…it’s the same principle. You’re still meeting people emotionally where they are, and showing them that you have a solution to their problem. But I have two quick frameworks that I think would help people think about how to do this.
Ray: And so the first one is called the Pastor Framework. And I’m not talking about being a preacher. But I’m talking about the original meaning of the word “pastor,” which was to be a shepherd. That’s what a pastor was. That’s why we have “the pastoral scenery.” Because we’re thinking about shepherds that care for the sheep, that protect them from the wolves, that make sure that they have water to drink, and so forth.
And so I like to think of our duty or the people who follow us, the people who are our customers, our clients, our readers, our podcast listeners…we’re pastoring them. We’re shepherding them. And that’s how I like to think about the process of selling our products to them. And each letter in the word pastor stands for part of the process.
P is for Problem—and that’s what we just recognize, and talk to them, and describe, like we were saying earlier, the problem that they face, the pain it’s causing in their life.
A is for Amplify, which just means we just amplify the consequences of not solving the problem. This is probably one of the biggest secrets of selling anything, is it’s not really about telling people how cool your stuff is—it’s really about letting them understand the cost of not getting your solution. What’s it going to cost them long term? The cost of not taking action is what motivates people into buying.
S in Pastor stands for the Story of the solution. So you have a story that you tell about how you came to do the kinds of work that you do, how you came to learn about building lists and building marketing funnels and bringing in leads through Facebook, you have a whole story that you tell about that and it leads to your description of your solution.
And then you tell stories about other people, how you’ve taught them, and that is Testimony of the fact that your system, your teaching, works.
So that’s the T in Pastor; S is Story, T is Testimony, and O is Offer. This is where we talk about well, this is what we offer.
For you it might be the Profit Lab, that you make this offer and you describe to people what will happen for them when they become a member of the Profit Lab. And people make the mistake of thinking that the offer is about how many DVDs I have and how many pages of transcripts and how many hours of training… I don't know about you, Amy, but I never get excited when somebody says “We’ve got 28 hours of audio training for you to listen to!”
Amy: No, thank you.
Ray: That does not excite me.
Ray: What excites me is “We’ve got, you know, checklists that will get you into getting your ads running and getting leads coming in every day on automatic pilot, so that you’re selling more than you’re spending on advertising and you can make that trade all day long.” That’s an offer of transformation that I’m excited about hearing about.
And then R is where you ask for the Response. You just ask people to take action.
So if you did nothing more, if you took nothing more away from this show than just think “Pastor”—P-A-S-T-O-R—talk about the pain, amplify the ramifications of not solving the problem, tell the story of how you came up with the solution, give testimony of how it works for other people, it’s worked for you and it’s worked for other people as well, you describe the offer and you ask for a response.
You can just take those pieces, and you can write them out in your own language and you’d have a very effective piece of copy. That’s the short way I describe what we do when we write long sales copy.
Amy: Good stuff. I know people are thinking “Oh, I’ve got to get the notes on this,” so remember, we transcribe all the shows, and I do pretty lengthy blog posts on each of my episodes. So we’ve got you guys covered. But you also said there’s something called a Buyer’s Journey Framework.
Amy: Is that different? I guess you said that earlier—people didn’t hear you say that. But is that different than what you just explained?
Ray: Okay, so here’s how to think of it. The Pastor framework is kind of the broad, overarching framework of how I think about writing copy, and it’s born out of that principle of being a shepherd, that you’re taking care of people. You’re not trying to take advantage of them, you’re trying to take care of them and help them.
Usually when I share the Pastor framework, here’s what would happen: people would say “That’s awesome! You told me what to do to write my sales copy.” And then, eventually, I’d get this question: “How do I do that?” So I realized we needed a little more clear path. And I’m a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s work, who wrote this book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and people have probably heard about the “hero’s journey”…
Ray: The description of pretty much every epic story ever written. Star Wars, Titanic, any of the big, like the Lord of the Rings movies, the big quest movies especially, it’s easy to see this hero’s journey. And I think of this as the Buyer’s Journey. And so I’ll just go through… there’s twelve steps in the Buyer’s Journey, in the model that we use, and I’ll just briefly describe it.
#1 is the Existing Situation, or the pain that the buyer is in.
#2 is the Dream or the ideal solution. So you contrast here’s how the world is right now, and here’s how we wish it could be. And it could be just as simple language as that.
Step #3 in the Buyer’s Journey is Discovering the Trusted Guide and going on a quest for the answer. So you might, if you’re telling a longer story, and this is usually in the case of when you’re selling something expensive, you’ve got to give people more rationale to support the emotional decision that they’ve probably already made. Maybe they’ve decided to buy your $500 course or your $3000 retreat weekend or whatever you sell, but you need to give them support in making that decision make sense.
And so you may describe how you discovered this method or technique or technology or widget that you’ve made, or software, and how you went on a quest for answers. You may even walk through some of the attempts that you’ve made that failed, because people don’t like to hear a story of “Well, I’m perfect, I saw a problem, I came, I fixed it, and now I’m offering it to you, dear person.” That’s not, that doesn’t make you very relatable.
Ray: People like to understand that you too have stubbed your toe and made mistakes, and perhaps you’re willing to help them bypass those mistakes. Then you present your unique solution—your system, your method, your training, your book, whatever it is you offer for sale, and this is where we get into something that is a little more familiar to people who have read about ad copy and writing sales copy before. We talk about the Features and the Benefits of our solution.
And the Feature, just to make it simple, that’s something a product has. So it might have 8 DVDs, but that’s not really something that’s going to make me want to buy it.
The Benefit is there’s step-by-step training that walks me through every click that I need to make on my screen to place these kinds of ads and make them get results for me. There’s nothing left to chance, I’ll have no questions left when we’re done, I’ll be finished with the process when I finish with the training. That’s a Benefit that is a real benefit to me.
The offer is Step #7 in the Buyer’s Journey, and that’s when we describe exactly what transformation we’re bringing to people. And just as a side bar, the offer is usually the first thing I recommend you write, because knowing exactly what you’re offering to people, the transformation that you’re offering, maybe you’re offering them the transformation of “finally get your body to a healthy weight, have more energy, feel ten years younger, have those sculpted abs that you’ve always dreamed of, get those admiring looks from people as you walk down the street,” that's the offer that you’re making, and that’s the transformation that you’re presenting them with, and knowing that in advance helps you understand how to tell the story of the entire Buyer’s Journey.
Then after you’ve presented your offer, you have to present proof that it works. And this is why…you probably have noticed this because I know you’ve been involved in this world a little bit! Informercials consist mostly of testimonials.
Ray: Why do you think that…I know, I ask you, you know why it is…it’s because that’s what gets people to buy! They see ordinary, regular people like themselves saying “I bought this program and it totally changed my life.”
Amy: I mean, those testimonials get me every time.
Ray: Yes. They got me to buy P90X.
Amy: Me too!
Ray: Which the promise of P90X is you will work out so hard, you will want to puke in a bucket.
Amy: I know! Good point.
Ray: It’s like, I never sat down and thought “I would like to watch TV and find something that will give me that message and send them a couple hundred dollars.”
Amy: So true.
Ray: But I did. Because of the testimonials. And then, after the proof, the testimonials, you offer value justification. You’ve got to explain why is it worth, Ray, you parting with $200 of your money to buy the P90X system?
Because compare it to the…this is what I talked about earlier…compare it to the cost of not taking action. What happens if you don’t get into shape? What happens if you don’t get on a program like this? Well, you’ll get fatter, you’ll have less energy, you’ll probably have a heart attack and die and you’ll never know your grandkids! That’s a pretty high cost. And I’m being a little overly dramatic, although maybe not!
Ray: But that’s the cost. That’s the reality of not taking action. Then you take away the fear —this is Step #10 of the Buyer’s Journey…we’ll have all this outlined in the notes that you get…Step #10 is taking away fear and risk.
Because the biggest fear that your buyer has is not that you don’t have the solution; the biggest fear is that you’re going to rip them off. Many of them are secretly thinking “Am I the only idiot that’s going to put their credit card number into this web page? And some guy in Kuala Lumpur is going to go buy a big screen TV with it?” That’s what people are thinking!
So you’ve got to reassure them and demonstrate that you’re reliable, you’re trustworthy, you’re sending them the product without charging them—let them try it first, is one way to do it. You’ve got to figure out how can you present the idea that they just give your product a fair try, and if they’re not happy for any reason they get all their money back, they can try it before they pay for it.
There’s different ways to do this, and we teach different ways of offering what Jay Abraham calls “risk reversal,” so the risk is not on the buyer, it’s on the seller.
And then you offer tipping point bonuses. And these are things I know that you do so well, when you offer your programs—like by the time I watch one of your webinars when you’re talking about a program that you offer, you get to the point where you say “And then we have these other bonuses,” and I’m like “Oh! I’d be an idiot not to buy this thing now, because it’s worth it just to get the bonuses!”
Amy: Love that!
Ray: That’s exactly the point of the bonuses. They have to be something that relates directly to your product, and that enhances or magnifies the benefit of the product itself.
Amy: Yes, okay, so this is a big one that I actually kind of just learned more recently, I hate to admit. But you said it so perfectly—the bonuses should enhance the experience that you’re already promising them. I think those are the best kind of bonuses.
Ray: Yes. So if you’re selling information, for instance, or training about how to write copy, then obviously giving a bunch of templates away would be a really good bonus, because people would then understand well, not only am I going to learn how to write sales copy, but I’m going to get templates that I can basically just tweak or fill in the blanks with my details, and that’ll make it ten times easier. That’s a bonus that enhances the value of the main offer.
Ray: And then finally, Step #12, is you invite them to make a decision. And I love to come at this from a different angle than most people. Because most people, you know, try to put on the pressure and push people into saying “Yes.” Amy, I really just want people to make a decision.
It’s okay with me if the decision is no. The only decision that I think is not okay is no decision. Because I believe deeply that in almost every case, we know what’s the best decision for us to make, and sometimes we fail to make the decision out of fear, so we put it off, and that’s an illusion that costs us.
Amy: So true. And you know if you’re writing copy and you genuinely mean it, because I know Ray does, but if you genuinely mean it and you just want them to make a decision and you don’t want them to be on the fence, you’re going to write some pretty good copy.
Ray: Yes, because what comes through is the fact that you are really, genuinely, in earnest, only interested in them making a decision that serves them. And maybe the
decision is no, this is not for me, but that’s much better than them having in the back of their mind that open loop, that little circular process of stress that “I have to make a decision about that thing, that deadline’s coming up, I don’t know what to do.”
It’s better to just decide. And we all really know what we need to do in most…99% of the time. And I just want people to decide one way or the other, and then move on with whatever the next part of their life needs to be in regard to that thing.
And I think coming from that place removes the feeling that you’re putting people under pressure. And you can be really passionate about saying “I really think this is the right thing for you to do!” But you can say it with that same intonation, and yet people know in your heart where you’re coming from, and they don’t feel like you are manipulating or pushy.
Amy: Yes, so true. I’ve been in many experiences where I’ve read other people’s copy, and you instantly—in my opinion—you know their heart. Or you know if they wrote it with you in mind, versus them in mind. I think it’s very clear.
Amy: Yes. Because one thing that’s going to happen after you listen to this episode is you’re going to start looking at copy differently, through a different lens, and I committed a few years back to become a student of copywriting, and I tell all of my students that one of the best things they can do is just dive into copywriting and commit to really becoming great at it. I’m telling you, everything else in your business feels a whole lot easier when you’ve mastered the copywriting side of business.
And so Ray actually has a program all about copywriting. It’s brand new. At the time that you’re listening to this, if this episode just came out, it’s actually not even available.
So I want Ray to tell you a little bit about his brand new copywriting program, but then after that, we’re going to tell you how to get the free templates we talked about. Free templates, and a few other freebies. So don’t worry—we’ve got a freebie for you for sure, so hold on for that.
But Ray, tell me a little bit about your brand new program.
Ray: Thank you for this opportunity—I really appreciate it. It’s called “The Copywriting Formula: How to Write Copy that Sells Without Being Sales-y.” Because I’m really on a mission to eliminate stinky sales copy from the internet.
And I think that people need to be taught how to communicate the value of what they’re selling or offering to people in a way that motivates people to make a decision and does it in a way that’s respectful of both sides.
And so this course is first of all, it’s succinct. It’s four modules, and there are very short video lessons in each module that walk you through exactly how to write each piece of your sales copy. So we cover how to write email copy, how to write subject lines, how to write the different kinds of email, how to write sales copy for your sales page, how to write the copy that follows up after people make the sale.
This is something that gets bypassed; a lot of the time it gets forgotten. It’s that you need to send copy after the sale, so that people actually use your product and benefit from it; otherwise they will come back and ask for what’s called a refund. And we don’t enjoy giving refunds.
Ray: I mean, I’m happy to do it if it really is something that people feel like this wasn’t for me, and I would like my money back, we’re happy to give a refund. But truthfully, if we went to all the trouble of offering something to someone, and they went to the trouble of purchasing it, I feel it’s incumbent upon me as the seller to make sure that they follow through, as much as I can, and make use of the material, and do my best efforts to make sure that happens. And so followup copy is a way to do that, and we teach how to do that.
And not only do we teach, but we have examples—I show examples of really good copy, and explain why it’s good, and I show examples of really bad copy…anonymously, so we remove the name so you don’t know whose it is. And we show why it’s bad.
And then, the best part of all is we have templates for every piece of copy, so it literally is like as close to filling in the blanks as you can get. Obviously, you’ve got specific things about your copy that I can’t anticipate and put into a template, because it’s about your product and your service, but we make it as close to that as you can possibly get, and then we have during the four weeks of the course, we have Q&A calls where you can ask any question at all that you want to ask about your copy specifically, about the exercises, about what we’re teaching.
And by the time you’ve finished the whole course, and it’s designed for you to be able to finish it in four weeks—you can go faster if you want to, you can go slower if you want to— but it’s designed so that when we’re done, you have your lead-up emails to making your offer, you have your sales copy written, and you have your follow-up copy written, and you know how to apply all these principles that you learned, the techniques that you learned, to everything else you write, including your blog posts, your Facebook posts, the tweets that you put out on Twitter…yes, even that’s copy.
So we show you how to use the copywriting principles that we teach in all the different ways that are available to you.
Amy: Okay, so I love the templates, and I love that you’re offering a Q&A. A lot of courses don’t offer that anymore, that one-on-one type of support, even if it’s group calls. I think it’s so valuable. This is going to be a great course!
Ray: It’s going to be so much fun. I love doing these. I love the Q&A. I love teaching. I love helping people. And I love being able to dig into specifics and help people apply what we teach to their very specific situation.
Amy: So valuable. Good stuff. Well here’s the deal: if you want to learn more about the course and you want to get those freebies, I have a special URL I mentioned earlier: rayedwards.com/amy. And when you go there, you’re going to get more than just those three free templates he talked about. Ray, what else is there?
Ray: Well, I want to be clear, you will find out about the course that we’re offering, but you don’t have to purchase the course, obviously. You’re under no obligation to do that. We will tell you about that later on, but what you’re going to get right up front is you’re going to get my best-testing email subject lines.
So I’ve compiled the email subject lines that have got the most opens. So if somebody doesn’t open your email, then clearly they have never read it and it’s not going to do you much good to have sent it. So we study what email subject lines get people to actually open the email and read it, and I’ve just taken this list of subject lines that I’ve written for my own list and for the lists of many of my clients, so this really is representative of millions of emails that have been sent.
These are the best subject lines, and you can take and adapt them to your own products and emails, and I show you how to do that and how to make them your own, and make them work for you.
Then we have the three email templates that you can copy, you can tweak them to your needs, and you can use them immediately. The first one is to send people to a landing page, so that would be like if you’re going to send them to sign up for a webinar or a teleseminar, or to get your free report that you’re offering or free video series or whatever, we have copy in the form of a template for that.
We have one…this is one of my favorite ones…it’s an email you send to build rapport and build goodwill with your list. So this is an email that they get from you that you’re not asking for anything—you’re just giving. But here’s a specific way to write it to make sure that they open it, that they get the thing that you’re offering, the gift that you’re giving them, and they benefit from it, so they have those good feelings, and it earns you the right, then, later, to sell something to them, because they’re really open to hearing from you. Because they say to themselves “Wow, last time Amy emailed me, she sent me something fantastic. So I’m definitely going to open the email this time.”
And then we have a template for the Story Proof Principle framework that I talked about earlier. So you’ll be able to take that template and use it for the emails that you send out where you want to sell things in that “Oh, by the way” style that we mentioned earlier.
Amy: So good. I mean, that’s a lot of freebies, and I’m glad you clarified.
Go to rayedwards.com/amy and you get all these freebies, regardless if you sign up for the course or not. He’ll tell you about the course later; just focus on those freebies first. You’re going to find them really, really valuable.
Ray, thank you again for being on the show. We covered a lot—this is one of my longer ones, but I felt like we really needed to go deeper and get into the specifics of exactly what to do. So I’ll make sure I have some really good show notes that will act as your notes, everybody that is in the car right now or if you’re at the gym or whatever, we’ve got you covered. So the show notes are at amyporterfield.com/60.
Ray, again, thank you so much for being here.
Ray: Oh, thank you, Amy. It’s always my pleasure.
Amy: All right, well you all have a wonderful day, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye for now.
So there you have it—I hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as I have. I call Ray a dear friend and you can even hear in his voice what a good guy he is. And so if you’re thinking about copywriting, you want to learn more, he’s one of my favorite teachers for sure. So definitely check out RayEdwards.com/amy to get your hands on those freebies.
I cannot wait to talk to you again next week. So make sure to have a wonderful week— thank you again for showing up. I don’t take it lightly. I truly appreciate you tuning in, and I can’t wait to connect with you again soon. Take care.