There is actually a secret most savvy marketers use to squeeze every dollar of profit possible from their advertising. It works no matter what kind of business you have or what kind of advertising you do. I will assume that what you’re selling is in demand for if it is not, no amount of marketing will matter. The Eskimo will not buy a freezer.
Several years ago I pursued online marketing selling horse training information. Interestingly, I didn’t know anything about horse training. I owned four horses but I was intimidated by them because I simply didn’t understand them. The reason I decided to sell horse training information was two-fold. First, you want to sell to buyers who have money. That’s cardinal rule #1. Second, you want to solve a problem. Since I had four horses and knew how expensive it was to feed and care for them, I figured if people had money to have horses then they had money to spend besides. That satisfied rule #1 and it turns out I was right.
Secondly, the problems I was solving were the problems I had with horses. I didn’t know anything about them. I didn’t know how to train them. The most frightening thing I didn’t know was how to stop a horse from panicking and running and bucking uncontrollably, zipping by metal T-posts with razor sharp barbed wire attached to it. It turns out that fear was prevalent with lots of horse owners and that was the problem to solve.
Remember, I didn’t know anything about horses so I had to find something to sell. After much research, I found a horse training manual written in 1896 by a then famous horse trainer, Jesse Beery. Since the manual was written before 1925, I was legally able to reproduce it and sell it without copyright infringement.
While the book was getting formatted for print, I made the website to sell it. I created a way to get web visitor’s email information. Once I had the visitor’s information I started marketing my Jesse Beery horse training manual to them.
At first my sales were poor. I tried all kinds of tricks like adding pictures, changing the body copy here and there and changing the price. No matter what I did there was no significant sales improvement. I decided to break up my online sales letter into four parts. When people would click to page two, I could see how many were reading page one that went to page two, then three, then four. Interestingly, almost no one went to page two. While that was a painful reality, it was also good intelligence. It told me something was wrong on page one. So I tweaked the body copy here and there. However, no matter what I did, hardly anyone went to page two and beyond, much less ordered.
Frustrated for the umpteenth time, I sat back in my office chair one day and pondered all the marketing information I had studied over time. I suddenly remembered one of the key points that I had been leaving out of the marketing. Headlines!
Here’s what I mean. When you have a sales piece (a.k.a. sales letter), there will be a headline at the very beginning. It’s in big, bold print. Just like a newspaper article has a headline to let you know whether or not you want to read it, so did my sales piece. So I wrote ten different headlines to test. The first headline made no difference. The second headline made the sales piece worse than anything I did up to that point. The third through sixth headlines were negligible. By the time I implemented the seventh headline I was feeling lower than a gopher’s basement. I inserted it, sent web traffic to it and retired for the evening. The next day, around 8:15 a.m., I lazily checked the results with no expectations.
I could not believe my eyes.
I had so many sales using that headline I actually thought I had done something wrong because my number of sales were so out-of-the-ordinary. I tested the remaining three headlines and they didn’t do so well. Then I reinserted headline seven and sales shot back up. I was hooked and amazed. Interestingly, I checked how many people went from page one to two and three then four. I found quite a few more went to page two but nearly no one went to page three and four. Yet, my sales took off. Keep in mind that all I did was change the headline. Everything else remained unchanged, the body copy, the price, the pictures, everything.
This is when I had the most important revelation I’ve ever had with marketing. Test, test, test. You never know what’s going to work. Ever since then I have always tested my advertising if it was possible. In fact, I started to get cocky thinking I knew what was going to work only to find out it didn’t. Plus, things I thought that would never work sometimes worked best. I would not have known that without testing. Believe me, you may think you know what will work but you don’t.
Now imagine if I had never tested headlines for that product. I would have dropped an otherwise highly profitable ad campaign. There it was, all that time sitting dormant just waiting for me to find the right words. Words. It was words that sold it.
Once I experienced the power of this knowledge, I tested everything from then on. Pricing, call to action, colors, text under pictures and more.
Since then, I’ve discovered and use several techniques for creating headlines and ad copy. Although that’s another lesson, it’s worth your time working on that because as you’ve seen, it will pay big dividends.
With that said, you may have heard studies on what kinds of phrases work better than others. Phrases like “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” or “Half Off” or “50% Off” or “Half Price”. They are all essentially the same but does one work better than the other? There have been studies with conflicting results. That said, I urge you to test for yourself. Let the numbers of your results guide your decisions on what to do in your advertising.
Next time you make an ad, I urge you to carefully think about your words. Most people just throw something together with the egregious belief that it will work and there’s nothing better to say in your ad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Develop ways to test. If you need help with that, then hit me up. Otherwise, you are leaving money on the table if you simply throw an ad out there.