Tag Archive | "Selling"

Selling SEO to the C-Suite: How to Convince Company Executives to Support SEO

Posted by rMaynes1

The implementation of a solid SEO strategy often gets put on the back burner — behind website redesigns, behind client work, behind almost everything — and even when it is taken seriously, you have to fight for every resource for implementation. SEO must be a priority. However, convincing the company executives to prioritize it and allocate budget to SEO initiatives can feel like scaling a mountain.

Sound familiar?

Convincing company executives that SEO is one of the most critical elements of a holistic digital marketing strategy to increase website traffic (and therefore customers, sales, and revenue) won’t be easy, but these steps can increase the chances of your program being taken seriously, and getting the budget needed to make it a success.

Before you start: Put yourself in the shoes of the C-Suite and be ready to answer their questions.

While it’s no doubt frustrating that your executives don’t understand the importance of SEO, put yourself in their shoes and consider what is important to them. Have solid answers ready to questions.

CEOs are decision-makers, not problem-solvers. They are going to ask:

  • Why should we invest in SEO vs. ?
  • Is this going to be profitable?
  • Do you have proven results?
  • What does success look like? What are your KPIS?

CIOs and CFOs will fixate on cost reductions. They are going to ask:

  • What will this cost us?
  • Can similar results be achieved at a reduced cost?
  • What level of spend will maximize ROI?

CMOs want to ensure the organization’s message is distributed to targeted audiences in order to meet sales objectives. They will ask:

  • How many more qualified leads will this bring us?
  • What will this do to increase our brand exposure?
  • What is our competition doing?

CEOs are unbelievably busy. In the nicest way, they don’t care about details, and they don’t care about tactics (because they simply do not have time to care). What do they care about? Results.

For example, the CEO of a large insurance broker sits in his office and Googles the term “Seattle insurance.” Success for him is seeing his company listed at #1 in the organic results. He doesn’t want to know how it was achieved, but for as long as that’s the result, he’s happy to invest.

Getting the support you need for your SEO strategy can be tough, to say the least, especially if there is no understanding, no interest, and no funding from the C-level executives in your company — and unfortunately, without these, your SEO plans will never get off the ground.

However, executive-level buy-in is crucial for a successful SEO campaign, so don’t give up!

Educate your stakeholders

1. Start at the beginning: Define what SEO is, and what it isn’t

It might sound like a no-brainer, but before you even start, find out your C-Suite’s SEO expertise level. Bizarre as it may sound, some might not even really fully understand what SEO is, and the concept of keywords might be entirely alien.

Start from the very beginning with examples of what SEO is, and what it isn’t.

Include:

  • How people search for your business online with non-branded industry keywords. Use analytics to show that this is what people are actually searching for.
  • Show what happens when you conduct a simple search for a related keyword. Where does your business rank and where do your competitors rank?

If you want to go into a bit more detail, you can show things like where keywords appear in your page content, or what meta-data in the titles and description fields look like. Gather as much valuable insight as you can from the CMO to help tailor your presentation to fit the style the CEO is used to. It will vary from CEO to CEO. Same story — but a different approach to getting the message across.

Remember, keep it high-level. When talking to your C-Suite about SEO, it’s important to talk to them in a language they’ll understand. If your presentation includes references to “schema,” “link audits,” or “domain authority,” start again, scrapping the technical jargon. Instead, talk about how SEO helps businesses connect directly with people who are searching online for the products and services that are being offered by the company. Highlight how it’s a powerful business development tool that aligns your business with customer intent, one that targets potential customers further down the sales funnel because it attracts traffic mostly from people who are in the market to convert. Focus on the purpose of an SEO program being to build a sustainable base of monthly quality potential customers by generating additional traffic to the website.

Use hard facts to support your points. For example:

  • 72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
  • 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
  • Conversion rates are 10 times higher on search than from social on desktops, on average. (Source: GoDaddy 2016)
  • Half of search queries are four words or longer. Not including long-tail keywords could mean losing potential leads. (Source: Propecta 2017).
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0–4 monthly posts. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

2. The meat of your presentation: Why SEO is so important

Once you’ve shown what SEO is, you can move onto why it’s so important to the organizational goals. Sounds simple, but this is probably the most difficult part of convincing your executives of the need for an SEO strategy.

C-Suite executives are not interested in the how of SEO. They want to know the why (the value, the return on investment), and the when (how long it will take to see the results and the ROI of this endeavor). It’s almost guaranteed that they’re not going to want to know the minute details and tactics of your proposed strategy.

Outline the project at a high level, and don’t get bogged down in the details. If the CEO is well-educated in other channels (like paid search, offline marketing, print marketing, or display advertising), try to use SEO examples that can be understood in a relative way to how these other channels perform.

Note: To sell SEO to the C-suite doesn’t necessarily mean you’re committing to doing all of this work yourself. You might be pitching for the budget to use an SEO agency to do all of this for you.

Break out the proposed project into 4 sections, each with a “what” and a “why.”

1. SEO audit:

Your website is a business development tool, and so the SEO audit is focused on assessing how well the site is performing currently. Talk about how you’ll assess the website in several areas to understand any problems impacting site performance and identify any potential optimization opportunities to make it more search engine-friendly, and to align it to business objectives both from a technical and content perspective.

2. Recommendations:

From the audit, determine what needs to be done and when. Not all tactics will work for all organizations, and as an SEO expert, you’ll be able to review the business and draw on your past experience to determine what’s going to earn the highest ROI. Prioritize recommendations and have a case to present for each, proving how it’s more important than another recommendation, and how it will impact the overall business if implemented. Ensure that those critical SEO components that will expedite the results are implemented first. Be sure to address these questions:

  • What combination of tactics is going to work best for this organization?
  • What is going to have the biggest impact now, and what can wait?
  • What should be a top organizational priority?
  • Do you have access to the internal resources and knowledge to be able to implement the recommendations, or do you need to consider using an external agency?

3. Implementation:

Whether this is an internal project or you’re engaging an SEO agency, the project lead should be very hands-on, making SEO recommendations and guiding the IT team through the successful implementation of as many of them as possible so as to have the biggest impact on organic search. At times it can feel like you have to jump through hoops to get the smallest recommendation implemented, and that’s understandable. However, if you endeavor to understand the internal IT processes, you can customize recommendations to fit the IT team’s schedule. You’ll see more success that way.

This is one of the biggest obstacles that Mediative, as an agency, runs into. We conduct SEO audits and provide recommendations for success, in priority order — but getting access to internal IT resources and getting your SEO recommendations into the implementation queue can be incredibly challenging.

We worked with a Fortune 500 company for four years on SEO, covering the major areas of site architecture and site content, with the ultimate goal of increasing site traffic. At any given time, there were 40+ active SEO initiatives — open tickets with the client’s IT department — all of which had an impact on the SEO of the client’s website. However, they represented only about 20% of the total open tickets for all IT service requests in this client’s IT department; as a result, vying for precious IT resources became a huge challenge. A great SEO agency will learn to adapt tactics to fit in with whatever sort of IT procedures your company already has in place.

4. Goals and measurement of results:

HubSpot has presented the core metrics that CEOs care about the most; you should address these metrics with benchmarks and informed predictions (not vague guesses) for how SEO can improve them. Unlike channels such as paid search, it can be difficult to give the exact cost and the exact number of leads or revenue SEO can generate. The key here is to get the understanding of the CMO to help present your case to the CEO. SEO or organic search traffic (when measured properly with analytics) can be the biggest driver of low-cost traffic and quality visitors to your website.

  1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – This is the total cost of acquiring a customer in the organization. If you can show how SEO acquires customers below the company average, you’re already winning.
  2. Time to Payback CAC – This is the number of months it takes you to earn back the CAC you spent to get a new customer. Again, if you can show that SEO reduces this number, it will increase the likelihood of your program getting the thumbs up.
  3. Marketing Originated Customer % – This ratio shows what percentage of your new business is driven by marketing efforts, a sure-fire way to secure more SEO budget if you can prove exactly how many new customers it’s driving.

Look at simpler metrics as well, such as:

  • Traffic to your website.
  • Number of leads generated.
  • Decreased bounce rates.

Inform your executives that you’ll be measuring these metrics in conjunction with other metrics, such as average ranking position, to see the overall impact of your SEO efforts.

  • Use industry research to put a monetary value on ranking higher. For example, the fictional company Acme Shoes sells shoes online. The company website recently ranked #4 on a desktop Google search for [women’s shoes].
    • A #4 ranking sends the website 20,000 unique visitors per month.
    • The average value of a website visitor has been calculated at $ 20, therefore ranking at #4 is valued at $ 400,000/month.
    • Research has shown that, on average, the #4 ranking gets 7.3% of Google results page clicks, and the #1 ranking gets 32.8% of page clicks — 4.5x more. Therefore, it can be estimated that increasing ranking to #1 will lead to 90,000 monthly unique visitors.
    • The estimated revenue from ranking #1 for [women’s shoes]: $ 1.8m/month.
  • Present different scenarios. For example, what would happen if no SEO efforts are made over the next 12 months? Now in contrast, what do you predict will happen with $ X of investment, and how that would increase even further if doubled? Be sure to have a few options available, not just all-or-nothing.
  • Be very specific about the goals at each level of investment. Find examples of SEO strategies that have had great results. Best case would be results from your own tests in preparation for a larger project, but sometimes even small SEO tests are not approved until the C-suite has bought in. In this case, find case studies from your industry, or research/results of similar tactics to those that you want to implement. The C-Suite want tangible, real-world solutions that are proven to work, not vague ideas.

Tip: A lot of SEO is “free” — it just takes time, knowledge, and resources (which is where it gets expensive) to make it successful. Use the word “free” as much as you can. For example, an online listings component of an SEO strategy may utilize free directory listings.

In summary, an SEO project may address all 4 sections listed above very well, but the key is communication. Great SEO agencies are strong communicators with all stakeholders involved — the marketing team, IT teams, content writers, designers, code developers, etc. It’s important to remember that following best practices, executing SEO tactics in a timely manner, and measuring the results all require clear and concise communication at different levels of the organization.

Congratulations! You’ve perfectly pitched SEO to your C-Suite. You’re almost guaranteed to get the green light! So what now?

Manage expectations from day one.

Basketball player Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying: “Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life, too.”

He could have been talking about SEO.

SEO is a commitment. To reap the long-term benefits, you have to put in the effort with minimal gains at first. Make sure your C-Suite knows this. They might get frustrated that after 3 months of effort, the results are not prominent. But that’s how SEO goes. SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” tactic. It’s an ongoing program that builds successes with time and consistency.

By setting realistic expectations that it will take several months before results are seen, there won’t be pressure to try other tactics, like paid search or display advertising, at the expense of SEO. Of course, these tactics can complement your SEO efforts and can provide a short-term benefit that SEO can’t, but don’t be swayed from SEO as a core strategy. Stay the course, and keep focused on the long-term benefits of what you’re doing. It will be worth it!

Continually measure and track performance

You should be ready at the drop of a hat to provide up-to-date results with performance measured to key metrics (to the last month) of how your SEO efforts are stacking up. You never know when cost-cutting measures might be implemented, and if you’re not ready with solid results, it might be your program that gets cut.

Show how your SEO efforts compare to other programs in the company, such as social media marketing or paid search. Search is always evolving, so keep up and be seen keeping up. 
Never stop selling!

In the case of our Fortune 500 client, we were able to implement all of the key SEO initiatives by prioritizing and building cases for implementation. After several months, organic search traffic and revenue was leading all other digital marketing channels for this client — more than PPC and email marketing. 
Organic search generated approximately 30% of all visits to the client’s site, while maintaining year-over-year growth of 20–25%. This increase was not simply from branded traffic, however — year-over-year non-branded traffic had increased approximately 50%.

These are the kind of results that are going to make the company executives sit up and take SEO seriously.

To conclude:


As the proponent for SEO in your organization, you play a critical role in ensuring that the strategies with the quickest and biggest impact on results are implemented and prioritized first. There’s no magic bullet with SEO – no one thing that works. A solid SEO strategy — and one that will convince stakeholders of its worth — is made up of a myriad of components from audits to content development, from link building to site architecture. The trick is picking what is going to work for your organization and what isn’t, and this is no mean feat!


For more SEO tips from Mediative, download our new e-book, The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Google’s Search Engine Results Page.

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Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]

content marketing glossary - what are unique selling propositions?

Like David Ogilvy, mid-20th-century ad man Rosser Reeves promoted a hard-sell approach and thought advertising should do one thing: sell.

And sell he did.

Campaigns for Viceroy cigarettes, Carter’s Little Liver Pills, Listerine mouthwash, and Colgate toothpaste boosted sales and put these brands on the map.

His goal was to get customers to recognize a specific brand proposition — what has become known as a unique selling proposition (USP).

But what exactly is a unique selling proposition? And why is it so important?

Watch our 60-second video about unique selling propositions

With help from our friends at The Draw Shop, we whipped up 12 definitions from our new Content Marketing Glossary into short, fun whiteboard animated videos.

Check out our video for the definition of USP:

Animation by The Draw Shop

And for those of you who would prefer to read, here’s the transcript:

In essence, a unique selling proposition (USP) is something that you offer customers or clients that your competitors do not offer.

It’s also known as a “remarkable benefit.”

In the late 1970s, FedEx effectively branded itself as the fastest, most reliable shipping service with its tagline: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

That was the remarkable benefit no other company could claim.

And once you identify that unique element for your business, you’ll know exactly what the theme of your content marketing should be, which will eventually become the big story of your business.

Share this video

Click here to check out this definition on YouTube and share it with your audience. You’ll also find 11 additional Content Marketing Glossary videos.

Additional USP resources

For more information about unique selling propositions, visit these three resources:

Learn more from the Content Marketing Glossary

Ready to master content marketing essentials? Watch all of our animated whiteboard videos right now by going directly to the Content Marketing Glossary.

By the way, let us know if there are any definitions you’d like us to add to the glossary! Just drop your responses in the comments below.

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Why I Stopped Selling SEO Services and You Should, Too

Posted by ryanwashere

In my 28 years on this planet, I’ve come to accept two things as fact:

  1. The sun rises every morning.
  2. Marketers screw everything up.

Because of fact No. 2, I had to stop selling SEO.

Why? Here’s an interaction I used to have five times a day.

*Phone rings*

Me: “This is Ryan Stewart with WEBRIS. How can I help you?”

Caller: “I’m looking for SEO for [domain.com]. I want to rank for [keyword terms x, y, and z]. Can you guys handle that?”

Me:

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 11.42.47 AM

I’m over it.

I’m tired of explaining to people SEO doesn’t work that way anymore. And I need the rest of you to get on board with me, because we’re driving ourselves out of business.

I mean, come on people. Look around. We need to stop trying to jam websites where they don’t belong. The SERPs have changed.

Google shows search results based on what’s best for the user. We can’t just rank for whatever keywords we want.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Example #1: Search “best headphones

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 6.22.33 PM

What do you notice?

Not a single result on the first page is a product page.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 6.46.24 PM

They’re all articles about different headphone types, their benefits, pricing, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 6.22.57 PM

We’re all Google users. We all know these are much better results to get than getting a single brand’s product page. I want to shop around, compare products, and read reviews. Don’t you?

Example #2: Search “restaurants in miami

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 6.47.57 PM

What do you notice?

Not a single result on the first page is a restaurant’s website.

As a matter of fact, the results above the fold are tied to review aggregators and Zagat ratings.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 7.58.26 PM

Underneath the fold, the results are filled with listicles, reviews, and articles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 6.53.03 PM

I’d much rather read reviews about dozens of restaurants than be directed to a singular one.

Example #3: Search “buy a cheap tv

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.36.21 AM

What do you notice?

Ahhhh, yes, I threw this one in for the comment trolls.

The top five results are product pages. However, they’re all mega-brands. With the current algorithms, we’ll never outrank a brand for keywords like that (without spamming the hell out of it).

What else do you notice?

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.36.48 AM

Articles, not product pages, are ranking at the bottom of the first page.

Example #4: Google “plumbers in san francisco

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.41.16 AM

What do you notice?

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 7.42.26 PM

Not a single result on the first page is a website. There are only review aggregators: Yelp and Google+.

OK, so what’s happening?

It’s a combination of two things:

#1: Google’s got a lot of data, and they’re utilizing it

It’s safe to say Google understands what users want by analyzing the massive amount of data it has. If we take off our SEO goggles, it’s hard to disagree.

Personally, I love the power of choice. I’d rather pick from a list of companies with reviews and comparison data than one that only includes websites that make it to the top of organic listings.

In addition (as much as I hate to say it), I trust brands. I’d rather buy a TV from Best Buy than www.shop-cheap-tvs.com. Wouldn’t you?

#2: We’re moving into the “pay-to-play” era with Google

Not too long ago, Facebook moved into the “pay-to-play” era. Now Google’s headed that way.

Google’s main source of revenue is advertising, counting for almost 90% of Google’s revenue in 2014. And one of their main earners, display, is falling fast.

Google’s message is clear: If you want to sell directly through the Google platform, then you’ll need to pay for it.

Let’s go back to my last example, “plumbers in San Francisco.” Look at what’s happening above the fold with that query:

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 7.04.45 PMThat’s right, baby! Paid local listings.

If this test sticks, it’s going to have massive implications on local search. If I were a betting man (and I am), I’m all in that this is the future of local search.

But is SEO dead?

SEO is absolutely not dead. As long as people use Google search, SEO will be alive.

However, let’s recap. Money/buyer (i.e., purchase-intent) keywords are:

  1. Dominated by huge brands that 99% of the world can’t outrank (without spamming)
  2. Returning less product pages and more articles and other forms of content
  3. Triggering the knowledge graph, review aggregators, and more user-focused results

What this means is it’s time to seriously reevaluate the landscape. The days of ranking a products or services page first for these purchase-intent keywords are limited.

If we want to capture that traffic moving forward, there are three things we can do:

#1: Pay for it

This is very straight forward. I like to use paid search as a remarketing tactic. We capture traffic from all corners of the web, and then when those people are ready to buy (using those money keywords), we use highly targeted paid ads to snag their business.

#2: Create valuable content

If we go back to my first example, best headphones, the results are dominated by content that compares ratings and pricing for various headphones.

No one shares, engages, or links to products and services pages. The fact is, no one except for us cares.

Instead of trying to jam those pages with links, create a piece of content that delivers what Google (and users) want. By creating value with your content, you open it up to earning social media shares and powerful links from relevant sites.

If you want to compete against the big dogs for organic search real estate, content is your best option.

#3: Optimize your website for the web

It’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization), not GO (Google Optimization).

Yelp is a search engine. Facebook is a search engine. Twitter is a search engine. Amazon is a search engine. Quora is a search engine. Pinterest is a search engine. YouTube is a search engine. See where I’m going?

Each of these platforms offers unique benefits to the user. In a lot of cases, people looking for things on these platforms are likely to bypass Google altogether.

For example, l just moved into a loft in downtown Miami. I loathe shopping of any sort, so I allowed my girlfriend to manage the process for me. She ended up purchasing all of the furniture from Etsy (an e-commerce platform I knew very little about).

I asked her how she arrived there. This is what she told me:

search-engin-pick

  • Pinterest – She used Pinterest search to find inspiration on how to decorate. Using keywords like “loft decorations,” she narrowed it down to the specific pieces of furniture she liked.
  • Amazon – She then went to Amazon and searched with keywords that were based on the furniture she liked on Pinterest. She was looking for rustic furniture. Amazon didn’t have a great selection of that type.
  • Ebay – So she moved to Ebay, knowing that she could find cheap, secondhand (i.e., rustic) furniture there. She found that most things were a little “too used,” so she moved on.
  • Etsy – Finally, she landed on Etsy, knowing they specialize in unique handmade items. She purchased all the furniture from there (and simultaneously broke my bank account).

Now, I realize she could’ve used Google to search for all these things. She chose not to, though, because she felt it was an extra step she didn’t have to take.

She chose to use those specific websites/platforms/search engines because each one was built to handle exactly what she was looking for.

Applying this to your website

The long-winded point I’m trying to make is this:

It’s no longer just about optimizing your website for Google. It’s about optimizing your presence across the web.

By understanding who our target audience is and where they spend their time, we can attack those platforms and build an organic presence.

  • If you’re an attorney, you need to be on sites like Avvo, Lawyer.com and Find Law because they dominate the SERPS
  • If you’re a local business, Yelp and Thumbtack are crushing it right now
  • If you have an e-commerce store, get your product on as many platforms where your customers are as possible (including Pinterest)
  • If you sell large-ticket B2B services, SlideShare and LinkedIn are gold mines for connecting with C-suite executives looking for information

The list goes on and on…

Bringing it all home

This is why I stopped selling SEO. I’m begging you to follow suit.

We need to educate non-marketers that times have changed. We can’t just “rank and bank” for whatever we want anymore.

We don’t want to wait around until it’s too late. This isn’t a phase. This is the way it’s going to be going forward, and we all need to get on board with it.

As Google gets more intelligent, we need to get more intelligent about how we approach marketing. That doesn’t mean looking for ways to beat the search engine algorithms. Instead, we must learn to use them to our advantage.

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The ‘Horror’ of Making a Living from Selling eBooks

ap-j-thorn

Look out, Stephen King.

A new generation of Horror authors are using the power of self-publishing to climb the ranks, get new fans, and push the envelope in the genre.

J. Thorn is an up-and-coming Horror author who knows how to write great books … and build an audience and income stream with them.

In this episode of Authorpreneur, host Jim Kukral and J. Thorn discuss:

  • How J. Thorn went from selling two books a day to 200 books a day
  • How to build a powerful fan-base and turn them into readers through creative content marketing
  • The biggest mistakes J. Thorn made when writing and launching his first book
  • What readers really want and how to give it to them
  • How much work is involved in becoming an authorpreneur

Click Here to Listen to

Authorpreneur on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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SearchCap: Google Restaurant Delivery, Yelp Selling & Mobile Friendly Begins

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google Restaurant Delivery, Yelp Selling & Mobile Friendly Begins appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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SearchCap: Selling Bing, AdWords Scripts & Scaling Link Building

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Sell Bing? Makes No Sense, Says Microsoft’s Bill Gates — It’s A “Core Business” Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was interviewed on Fox Business News yesterday….



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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David Ogilvy’s Prophetic “Secret Weapon” of Selling

Almost forty years ago, storied ad man David Ogilvy sat down in an office somewhere in India and recorded a little film confessing the — as he put it — “secret weapon” of advertising that actually works.

It was a hot day, so he took off his jacket, exposing his infamous red suspenders. Ogilvy spoke simply and directly to his audience on the other side of the camera.

The prophecy he uttered in that grainy 7-minute film all those years ago has come to pass, with a bullet.

Though visionary, Ogilvy could not have imagined just how powerful his “secret weapon” would become in the age of the Internet, or how it would ultimately be wielded by individuals building media companies with nothing more than a laptop and sufficient quantities of research and sweat.

Watch the grand old man below. Make the connection between Ogilvy’s 80-year-old secret and the principles we talk about around here week in and week out.

There is nothing new under the sun, we only need the humility and intelligence to correctly apply the proven wisdom and strategy that has come before us …

Ladies and Gentlemen, I envy you. For forty years, I’ve been a voice crying in the wilderness. Today, my first love is coming to its own. You face a golden future. ~ David Ogilvy

About the author

Robert Bruce

Robert Bruce is VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media, as well as its Resident Recluse.

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5 Selling Techniques to Steal from Infomercials (Without Trashing Your Reputation)

image of patent medicine advertisement

There’s an interesting fitness guy I follow on Facebook.

He’s very smart about health. Every day he posts quite long, thoughtful discussions about avoiding health fads. (Actually, I wish he’d read our post about making your content more reader-friendly. A few subheads and line breaks wouldn’t kill you, man.)

He’s sane. He’s calm. He’s kinda spiritual, even.

And when he’s doing a product launch, he turns into PSYCHO HIGHLIGHTER SIX PACK ABS SALES PAGE DUDE.

Which takes all that thoughtful, careful content he shares the other 340 days a year and, to some degree, tosses it in the trash.

The first time I saw it, I literally thought his account had been hacked. The same guy counseling against listening to hypey, “magic bullet” gurus had turned himself into a hypey magic bullet guru. Why? Because, I’m sure, he’s been told, “Well that’s what works.”

A truly authoritative, thoughtful online presence takes time to build.

But you can tarnish it in no time at all.

Today, let’s talk about how you can do better — how you can use the copywriting techniques that are effective, without turning into a lame informercial version of yourself.

Let’s talk about infomercials

When most of us think of the infomercial, we think of overly aggressive, high-hype sales messages.

Why? Because infomercials are a classic, distilled harpoon sales environment.

Infomercials are expensive to produce and to air. So they need to make as many sales as they can with a single “shot.”

That means they trot out every conversion technique in the book, and they press them hard.

Most of the time, there’s no real reputation to protect. No one minds if their ShamWow was sold with hype that would have made P.T. Barnum proud. If it does a good job cleaning up spills, then no harm is done.

A typical infomercial is a pure sales message, with the only goal being to sell enough widgets to make a good profit.

You don’t live in that world

Infomercials aren’t bad. It’s a bad thing if they sell a defective or dangerous product, but in and of themselves there’s nothing “wrong” or “right” about them.

But they do call on some of the sharpest minds in direct response copywriting. The traditional “harpoon” copywriters are very much in demand, with the best getting a royalty on how much product is sold. It’s a terribly difficult style to master … get it even slightly wrong, and the audience simply flicks their attention elsewhere.

Undiluted selling also paints a business with a certain reputation. We don’t use the word “ShamWow” to mean a very effective or popular product. We use it to mean a pitchfest.

When you combine this level of aggression with the thoughtful, steady material that makes for a good content marketing program, you set up a Jekyll-and-Hyde feeling. It’s a bit like when an acquaintance becomes suddenly very friendly and invites you to a party at his home — that turns out to be a MLM event. All of the overtures of friendship become suspect, and your trust is entirely compromised.

Yes, you can sell without having a split personality

The key to using effective persuasion techniques (like the ones they use on infomercials) is to make sure they’re in alignment with your marketing communication as a whole.

Your tone and message need to feel consistent across all of your channels. So if you’re breezy and laid back in your daily content, don’t get intense and overly dramatic (which will read as hype) in your sales material.

If you’re positioning yourself against “quick fix” gurus in your daily content … don’t use words like “instant” or “immediate” in your sales copy.

A strong content marketing program begins by defining who you are, what you stand for, and whom you serve. Once you’ve spent the time to think that through (and write it down), you’ll be much less tempted to go off the rails just because it’s time to close the deal.

When you know yourself, you can use these five “informercial selling principles” in a way that’s completely integrated with your core message, instead of fighting it.

1. Testimonials and case studies

These are the cornerstone of a great informercial for one reason: It’s much more convincing to show a prospect that “this can work for someone like me” than to just tell them.

Testimonials and case studies let the prospect envision what life would be like if she used your product or service. And they can be used to overcome objections and illustrate benefits and features — in a story-focused way that hooks the prospect in like little else can.

For more specifics about what goes into a great testimonial, check out Sean d’Souza’s 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials.

To stay out of Cheeseland: Keep most of your testimonials firmly within the realm of what normal, real customers experience. We all want to highlight that one customer who went insanely above and beyond what anyone could have expected. It’s cool to have that person, but be sure you represent plenty of your more “typical results” as well.

Not only is this more ethical (and better for avoiding legal problems), it’s actually more convincing. If all the testimonials I see are from superstars, I’m going to think that I need to be a superstar to use your product or service.

2. Agitate the problem

The time-honored copywriting principle of “Problem – Agitate – Solve” can be used to great effect.

If your business solves a serious problem for your prospects, don’t be afraid to dig into that problem. Really uncover where the problem leads if it’s not resolved. Ideally, you’ll have some testimonials that show people with an advanced case of your customer problem.

Fully exploring your prospect pain gives you the opportunity to empathize, to relate, and ultimately … to solve their problem and get them back where they want to be.

To stay out of Cheeseland: Don’t take it this far.

3. Repetition

One thing informercials aren’t afraid to do is hammer the message home with repetition.

Too many content marketers, who devote so much time and attention to our content, imagine that our audiences are glued to our every word.

Alas, no.

Don’t be afraid to repeat your key messages, both in your daily content and your sales material. If it’s important enough to say once, it’s important enough to repeat.

To stay out of Cheeseland: Some repetition is important, because people have other things to do besides reading your marketing content. But that doesn’t mean that if a little is good, a lot is better. Respect people’s time.

The best way to repeat yourself is to re-frame your message from a different angle. You can repeat the same themes over and over, as long as you come up with a new analogy, story, or metaphor to do it with.

4. Legitimate scarcity

You could have a product that granted immortality, robust health, unlimited wealth, and a lifetime of great hair … and people would still put off adding it to their carts.

No matter how excellent your product or service, there needs to be a serious reason for prospects to buy it today, rather than tomorrow or the next day. Scarcity is the persuasion principle of limiting what you have to offer — either limiting the total number of items available, the time that prospects have to act, or both.

Of course, respect your audience’s intelligence. One legendary marketing teacher offered a “scratch and dent” sale on damaged CD and video packages, but also extended it to ebooks. Because he was known for his chutzpah and dry sense of humor, he got away with it. Without those elements of his overall message, the promotion wouldn’t fly.

To stay out of Cheeseland: Don’t lie about scarcity. If you’re only offering 500 spots, don’t keep “finding” more available spaces. Fake scarcity shows that you don’t respect your own word. It also lets people know that they can pick up your “killer offer” whenever they feel like it — which usually will translate to “never.”

5. Clear call to action

This is the one that will make you feel like you’re an infomercial when you’re doing it, but to your audience it will seem entirely natural and normal.

When you want your audience to take a particular action (like calling you, signing up for your list, or clicking the Add to Cart button), tell them exactly what to do.

It’s worth paying attention to how infomercials handle this. Normally the message is “Call 1-800-CHEESE-ME” which is emphasized with repetition (see above). You’ll often find that at the end of the infomercial, you can repeat the phone number yourself by heart, it’s been so clearly and frequently re-stated.

Subtlety is a lousy quality in a call to action. Make it unmistakably clear, make it prominent, and don’t be scared to repeat it.

To stay out of Cheeseland: Don’t. The call to action is an easy place to wimp out and start selling from your heels.

If you’re not a natural salesperson, it might feel a little awkward or even pushy, but this is the place to exercise your courage. If the rest of your marketing message is respectful, consistent, and resonates with your audience, a clear call to action won’t bother them a bit.

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If you want much more comprehensive advice about how to use copywriting and persuasion techniques without being utterly lame, join us inside MyCopyblogger. We have a comprehensive content marketing library for you, as well as an extended course by email on how to master internet marketing the smart way. It’s all free, so drop your email address here and we can get started.

How about you?

Ever see a technique on an infomercial that you wished you could snag, but it just seemed too cheesy? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see if we can de-cheese that for you.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Building And Selling An SEO Business

There’s an in-depth discussion going on in the members area about how to sell an SEO business. There will surely be readers of the blog interested in the topic, too, so I thought I’d look at the more general issues of selling a business – SEO, or otherwise. Specifically, how to structure a business so it can be sold.

Service-Based Businesses

Service based businesses are attractive because they’re easy to establish.

Who can sell a service? The answer is simple–anyone and everyone. Everyone is qualified because each of us has skills, knowledge or experience that other people are willing to pay for in the form of a service; or they’re willing to pay you to teach them your specific skill or knowledge. Selling services knows no boundaries–anyone with a need or desire to earn extra money, work from home, or start and operate a full-time business can sell a service, regardless of age, business experience, education or current financial resources

The downside of a service based business is that they’re easy to establish, so any service area that’s worth any money soon gets flooded with competition. The ease with which competitors can enter service-based markets is one of the reasons why service-based business can be more difficult to sell for a reasonable price.

Selling A Consultancy

Some businesses are more difficult to sell than others. Agency business, such as SEO consulting, can be especially problematic if they’re oriented around highly customized services.

In Built To Sell: Creating Business That Can Thrive Without You, John Warrillow outlines the reasons why, and what can be done about it. The book is an allegory about the troubles the founder of a design agency experiences when, after eight years, he is fed up with the demands of the business and decides to sell, only to find it’s essentially worthless. His business creates logos, does SEO, web design, and brochures, so many of his trials and tribulations will sound familiar to readers of SEOBook.com

Smart businesspeople believe that you should build a company to be sold even if you have no intention of cashing out or stepping back anytime soon

There are 23 million businesses in the US, yet only a few hundred thousand sell each year. Is this simply because the owners want to hold onto them? Yes, in some cases. But mainly it’s because a lot of them can’t be sold due to structural issues. They might be worth something to the seller, but they’re not worth much to to anyone else.

If You Were To Buy A Business, Would You Buy Yours?

If you put yourself in the shoes of a buyer, what would you be looking for in an SEO-related business? What are the traps?

We might start by looking at turnover. Let’s say turnover looks good. We may look at the customer list. Let’s say the customer list looks good, too. There are forward contracts. Typically, owners of businesses place a lot of value on goodwill – their established reputation of a business regarded as a quantifiable asset.

Frequently, goodwill is overvalued and here’s why:

It is fleeting.

A company may have happy customers, happy staff, and people may say good things about them, but that might all change next week. Let’s say Update Zebra, or whatever black n white exotic animal is heading our way next, is rolled out next month and trashes all the good SEO work built up over years. Is everyone still happy? Clients still happy? Staff still happy? Were there performance guarantees in place that will no longer be met? The most difficult thing about the SEO business is that critical delivery aspects are beyond the SEOs control.

Goodwill is so subjective and ephemeral that many investors deduct it completely when valuing a company. This is not to say a good name and reputation has no tangible value, but the ephemeral nature perhaps illustrates why buyers may place less value on goodwill than sellers. If you think most of your business value lies in goodwill, then you may have trouble selling for the price you desire.

….the only aspect of goodwill that can unequivocally offer comfort to an investor is the going-concern value of a company. This represents things such as the value of assets in place, institutional knowledge, reputational value not already captured by trade names, and superior location. All these attributes can lead to sources of competitive advantage and sustainable results; and/or they can give an entity the ability to develop hot products, as well as to achieve above-average earnings.

If a buyer discounts most or all of the goodwill, then what is left? There is staff. But staff can leave. There are forward contracts. How long do these contracts last? What are they worth? Will they roll over? Can they be cancelled or exited? A lot of the value of an agency businesses will lay in those forward contracts. What if the customers really like the founder on a personal level, and that is why they do business with him or her? A service business that is dependent on a small group of clients, who demand personal attention of the founder, and where the business competes with a lot of other players offering similar services is, in the words of John Warrillow “virtually worthless”.

But there are changes that can be made to make it valuable.

Thinking Of Service Provision In Terms Of Product

Warrillow argues that a business can be made more valuable if they create a standard service offering. Package services into a consistent, repeatable process that staff can follow without depending on you. The service should be something that clients need on a regular basis, so revenue is recurring.

His key point is to think like a product company, rather than a service company.

Good service companies have some unique approaches and talented people. But as long as they customize their approach to solving client problems, there is no scale to the business and it’s operations are contingent on people. When people are the main assets of the business – and they can come and go every night – the business is not worth very much

That’s not to say a service business can’t be sold for good money. However, Warrillow points out that they’re typically purchased on less than ideal terms, often involving earn-outs. An earn-out is when the owner gets some money up front, but to get the full price, they need to hit earnings targets, and that may involve staying on for years. In that time, anything can happen, and the people buying the company may make those targets difficult or impossible to achieve. This doesn’t necessarily happen through malice – although sometimes it does – but can arise out of conflicting incentives.

There are other stories of entrepreneurs going through the change from service to products, although the process may not be quite as straightforward as the character in the book experiences:

So I’m sure there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there that want to make the switch from consultancy to selling products. Belgian entrepreneur Inge Geerdens did exactly that: she pivoted successfully from providing services to selling a product…….A product is entirely different. You have costs that you can’t cut. In a service company, you can downsize everyone if you want, and run it at basically zero cost. It’s impossible to do that with a product. There’s hosting, development, upgrades, bug fixes, support: those are costs that you can’t flatten in any way. Your developers need new PC’s a lot sooner than consultants!

Nonetheless, the book offers seventeen tips on how to adjust a service based business to make it more saleable, and there are a lot more great ideas in it. Hopefully, outlining these tips will encourage you to buy the book – I’m not on commission, honest, but it’s a great read for anyone starting or running a business with the intention to sell it one day.

Let’s look at these tips in the context of SEO-related businesses.

1. Specialize

It’s difficult for small firms to be generalists.

Large firms can offer many services simply by having many specialists on the payroll. If a small business tries to do likewise, small business end up with staff wearing many hats. Someone who is a generalist is unlikely to be as proficient as a specialist, and this makes it more difficult to establish a point of difference and outperform the competition.

In terms of SEO, it’s already a pretty specialized area. The businesses that might be more difficult to sell in this market sector are the businesses offering multiple service lines including SEO, web design, brochures, etc, unless they have some local advantage that can’t easily be replicated.

However, positioning as a generalist can have it’s advantages, especially if the ecosystem changes:

Despite the corporate world’s insistence on specialization, the workers most likely to come out on top are generalists—but not just because of their innate ability to adapt to new workplaces, job descriptions or cultural shifts. Instead, according to writer Carter Phipps, author of 2012’sEvolutionaries generalists will thrive in a culture where it’s becoming increasingly valuable to know “a little bit about a lot.” Meaning that where you fall on the spectrum of specialist to generalist could be one of the most important aspects of your personality—

This is perhaps more true of individual workers than entities.

2. Make Sure No One Client Makes Up More Than 15% Of Your Revenue

If a business is too reliant on one client, then risk is increased. If the business loses the client, then a big chunk of the business value walks out the door.

Even though we usually land an annual contract, once that runs out, the client can cut us loose without any of the messiness involved in firing employees — that is, no severance pay, no paying unemployment benefits, no risk of being sued for discrimination or harassment or any of the other three million reasons why an ex-employee sues an ex-employer

3. Owning A Process Makes It Easier To Pitch And Puts You In Control

It is more difficult and time consuming to sell highly configured solutions than it is to sell packaged services. Highly configured services are also harder to scale, as this usually involves adding highly skilled and therefore expensive staff.

In SEO, it can be difficult to implement packaged, repeatable processes. Another way of looking at it might be to focus on adaptive processes, as used in Agile:

Reliable processes focus on outputs, not inputs. Using a reliable process, team members figure out ways to consistently achieve a given goal even though the inputs vary dramatically. Because of the input variations, the team may not use the same processes or practices from one project, or even one iteration, to the next. Reliability is results driven. Repeatability is input driven.

4. Don’t Become Synonymous With Your Company

Yahoo lived on without its founders. As will Google and Microsoft. The founders created “machines” that will “go” whether the founders are there or not.

Often, small consulting businesses are built around the founder, and this can make selling the company more difficult than need be. If customers want the founder handling or overseeing their account, then a buyer is going to wonder how much of the customer list will be left after the founder exits. It can even happen to big companies, like Apple, although their worry is perhaps more about the ability of successors to lead innovation.

If you never returned to your business, could it keep running?

Test yourself simply by asking yourself these questions and if you can respond yes to all of them you are well prepared:

  • Do you have a strategy in place should you, or a key staff member, be unable to return to work for a long period, or never?
  • Is this strategy documented and has it been communicated effectively to the business?
  • Do you have a process in place that ensures qualified and appropriately trained people are able to take over competently when the current generation of managers and key people retire or move on?
  • Has this strategy been documented and communicated to the key people involved?
  • Do you have a ‘vision’ for your business? Does it link easily to the ‘values’ of the business and the behaviours of the people within the business?
  • Has your ‘vision’ been well articulated and communicated with the people in the business?
  • Are you able to demonstrate your business plans for a clearly-defined viable future?
  • Have these plans been clearly articulated, documented and communicated to the key people within your organisation?

5. Avoid The Cash Suck

Essentially, try to get payment up-front. This is a lot easier to do for products than services. Alternatively, use progress billing. Either way, you need to be cash-flow positive.

Poor cashflow is the silent killer of many businesses, and poor, lumpy cashflow looks especially bad when a business is being packaged up for sale. It’s difficult to make accurate forward revenue predictions when looking at sporadic cashflow.

6. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No To Projects

It can be difficult to turn down work, but if the work doesn’t fit into your existing processes, then you need to find extra resources to do it. Above all else, it’s a distraction from your core function, which will also likely be your competitive advantage.

This point is also highlighted well in The Pumpkin Plan:

Never, ever let distractions – often labelled as new opportunities – take hold. Weed them out fast

7. Take Time To Figure Out How Many Pipeline Prospects Will Likely Lead To Sales

What’s your conversion rate? This helps a buyer determine the market potential. They want to know if they can expect the same rate of sales when they take it over.

8. Two Sales Reps Are Always Better Than One

The reasoning for this is that sales people are naturally competitive, so will compete against each other, which benefits the business.

Most of us would agree that salespeople are competitive by nature. This is obvious and necessary. After all, these are the people we put on the front lines to win the day and bring back revenue-producing opportunities for the company. They are assessed on their sales performance via metrics and measurements, and they’re incentivized with compensation and perks. Many organizations even have annual sales drives or competitions to quantify the level of performance and measure who is the best.

9. Hire People Who Are Good At Selling Products, Not Services

If you’ve gone to the trouble of systematizing your services to turn it into a product, then you don’t want salespeople agreeing to meet a customers demands by bending the product to those demands. Either the product meets their demands, or it doesn’t. I have known some service-oriented salespeople sell solutions that the company doesn’t even offer, reasoning the sale is the important thing, and the “back office” will work it out somehow!

Part of the rationale is that product based salespeople will filter out clients who want something else, and focus on those who are best served by the product, and likely to want more of it in future.

10. Ignore Your Profit And Loss Statement In The Year You Make A Switch To The Standardized Offering

It will likely show losses due to restructuring around a repeatable process or product. In any case, the future buyer is not buying the previous service business, they’re buying the new product business, and it is on these figures alone, going forward, the business will be judged.

11. You Need At Least Two Years Financial Statements Reflecting Your Standardized Model

See above.

12. Build A Management Team And Offer A Long Term Incentive Plan That Rewards Their Loyalty

Just like a buyer doesn’t want to see a business dependent on the founder, a buyer doesn’t want a management team abandoning ship after they’ve bought a company, either, unless the buyer is happy putting their own management in place.

13. Find An Adviser For Whom You Will Be Neither Their Largest Nor Smallest Client. Ensure They Know The Industry

Warrillow advises using a boutique mergers and acquisitions firm, unless you business is worth well under $ 5 million, in which case a broker is likely to handle the sale.

Between 1995 and 2006 about a quarter of merging firms hired boutique banks as their advisors on mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Boutique advisors, often specialized by industry, are generally smaller and more independent than full-service banks. This paper investigates firms’ choice between boutique and full-service advisors and the impact of advisor choice on deal outcomes. We find that both acquirers and targets are more likely to choose boutique advisors in complex deals, suggesting that boutique advisors are chosen for their skill and expertise.

14. Avoid An Advisor Who Offers To Broker A Discussion With A Single Client. You Need To Ensure (Buyer) Competition

Sometimes, advisors are scouts for favoured clients. This can create a conflict of interest as the advisor may be trying to limit the bidding competition as a favor to the buyer, or because they’re earning higher margins from that one client for introducing deals.

15. Think Big. Write A Three-Year Business Plan That Paints A Picture Of What Is Possible For Your Business

Think in terms of what the business could be, not necessarily what it is within your capabilities. For example, if the business is regional, what are the possibilities if it was scaled to every state? Or the world?

The buyer may have resources to leverage that you do not, such as established agencies in different markets. What happens if they sell your product to all their existing customers? Suddenly the scope of the business is increased, and the possible value is highlighted. Imagine what it would be like if you had the networks that were possible, as opposed to those you have at present.

16. If You Want A Sellable, Product Oriented Business, You Need To Use The Language Of One

“Clients” become “customers”, “firm” becomes “business”. It’s not just a change of positioning, it’s also a change of mindset and rhetoric, which in turn helps frame the company in the right light for the buyer.

17. Don’t Issue Stock Options To Retain Key Employees After Acquisition. Instead, Use A Simple Bonus.

Stock options can be complicated, although pretty common in the tech world. Warrillow’s argument against stock options is that they can complicate the sales process, as it’s reasonable all stockholders should get some say in the terms of the sale. This probably isn’t such an issue for larger businesses, as buyers would expect it.

Instead, Warrillow recommends a stay bonus, which is a cash reward for key staff if you sell the company. There should also be bonuses beyond the transition in order to inceentivise them to stay.

Conclusion

There are a lot of good tips and ideas in Warrillow’s book, and I’ve really only scratched the surface with this summary. These tips require context to get the most out of them, but hopefully they’ve provided a good starting point.

Have you bought or sold an SEO business? It would be great to hear your experience of doing so. Do you agree with some of these tips, or disagree? Please feel free to add to the comments!

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How To Sell Without Selling

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If you want a simple way to make your emails more profitable, without any hard pitching or looking even remotely “salesy”, then give me a few minutes here, and let me show you how to do it in this article.

Here’s the story …

One problem a lot of people have with writing effective emails is they think they’re writing a sales letter. And because they think their emails are like sales letters, they pack them with benefits and use all the usual copywriting tricks — out of context — and selling “choke holds.”

But if you sell a product that solves a painful problem, the opposite is true.

What you really should be talking about (instead of your product and its benefits) is all the pain caused by the problem your readers want solved.

This means getting inside their “world” and writing about the pain they’re experiencing (or COULD experience if something isn’t done to deal with the situation pronto).

Yes, you still make a call to action.

And yes, you still plug your URL (either aggressively or passively, such as in the example below).

But, you don’t need to hammer your readers with benefits. Instead, you hammer them with the painful symptoms they’re feeling — or could feel if they don’t find a solution.

How does this help your sales?

The answer is simple.

It’s all about trust

Since YOU are the person emailing them each day (you are mailing them daily, right?) and bonding with them (not just “pitching” them) by showing them you understand their pain, they will naturally look to you as the go-to person for help.

This concept is hard for a lot of online marketers who study copywriting to grasp at first.

So below is an example of how to do it:

Subject Line: The real reason why good writers die young

Writing’s a dangerous job.

Sitting there on your rumpus for long stretches of time … letting your legs form dangerous (life ending) blood clots, and wreaking havoc on your entire nervous system — which all can lead to some really NASTY pain.

Leg pain.

Neck pain.

Shoulder pain.

Elbow pain.

Wrist pain.

And, especially BACK pain.

In fact, I knew this one copywriter who was spending sometimes 8-10 hours straight in front of his computer in a small “closet like” office — writing copy, editing video/audio, messing around with website design etc, who was always in excruciating back pain.

Every movement hurt like hell.

Every shift in his seat like white fire up his spine.

Every turn of his neck agony.

He suffered like this silently for months, but figured it’d just go away on its own.

It didn’t.

It actually got worse.

In fact, it spread to his rear end and then down into his hamstrings making running (something he loved doing) impossible, and even walking to the kitchen from his office was exhausting and excruciating. Even sleeping was fitful at best as he had to lay in just the right position (and not move) in order to keep the sharp, “dagger like” pain away.

Eventually he sought help.

Doctors.

Orthopedic surgeons.

Chiropractors.

Acupuncturists.

None were any help.

(One of these doctors even said it was just “phantom pain” and sent him on his merry way with a bottle of pain killers …)

All his tests — MRI, EMG, X-rays — came up negative.

Yet, the pain was getting worse.

And his livelihood (writing) was at stake.

One of the doctors said whatever the problem is, it could be permanent if he didn’t figure it out soon … and to see a neurologist who told him there was nothing they could do and that humans are not built to sit for long stretches of time like that (and he was lucky he hadn’t developed any blood clots …)

Anyway, the point?

Writing for a living really CAN be dangerous.

To your health.

To your sense of well being.

Even, to your life …

To see my “writers pain” prevention plan, check out:

[Sales page URL here]

[Signature here]

See how that works?

The entire email above is about the problem, not the solution. It doesn’t talk about a product, and there isn’t a single benefit mentioned. Yet, it does a better job “selling” the click than pummeling the reader with benefits, bullet points, and features.

It also prepares the reader to eagerly be looking for a solution when they see the landing page, instead of being on guard against a sales pitch. In fact, they’re looking to be sold when you do this correctly.

And the best part is …

This is a very simple way to write emails.

You don’t have to be a great “writer.”

You don’t have to use any copywriting tricks or tactics.

And, you don’t even need to mention your product.

All you have to do is know your market and these emails practically write themselves.

Your homework assignment: Go write a “pain” email like the one I’ve shown you above. Think of all the pains your product solves, use the above email as a template and watch what happens.

About the Author: Ben Settle is a direct response copywriter and email marketing strategist. Although Ben no longer accepts clients, he gives away over 700 pages of his bestselling ideas and insights free at BenSettle.com.

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