It starts with the copy.
Copy so irresistible that readers rush hot and heavy through your sales letter…begging to do whatever it is you want them to do.
Buy, donate or subscribe. It doesn’t matter. They want to do it.
But not everyone can write sales letters like that. Unless you know the three appeals that are behind every successful advertisement.
The good sales letters use at least one of these appeals. The best use all three.
What are these three appeals? Let’s explore.
Soft core. Hard core. No core.
Men’s Health knows this and makes a mint from creating products and sales letter that put the physical act–and how to get better at/more of it–as a key motivator for sales. The image above is from one of their products–The Big Book of Sex.
They do an excellent job of segmenting their audience between men and women…and then creating appeals that, well…appeal to each:
But using sex as an appeal isn’t limited to the physical act. Sex includes love, friendship and affection. This is what I mean by “no core.”
Love Panky is appealing to women who not only want to fall in true love with a man…but make that same man fall in love with them.
What makes these appeals work so well is that they are native to what is being sold. Bad uses of this appeal occur when you try to pump up sales with woman who strip while you talk about your web domain service.
Go Daddy, anyone?
It’s in our bones. That desire to live like the rich.
Jet set around the world. Own boats as big as school buses. Spill more sashimi than most people will eat in a lifetime.
The Rich Jerk successfully milked this appeal for years. And it’s what fuels the Motley Fool:
Greed is why magazines like Money and Fortune are popular. While these magazines are straight-forward about their goal [getting rich] it’s less obvious in publications like Financial Times or Forbes.
But it’s still there.
If you can show someone how to make six figures a year, retire young or even horde hundreds of products through coupons…then you are using the greed appeal correctly.
Just like sex sells, so does fear. It could be a test crash dummy hitting a dash board at 60 miles per hour. A group of teenagers piling up body bags outside of the headquarters of a cigarette manufacturer. Or a life of poverty for your children after you die.
Fear appeals work on that sense of uncertainty we have. This is why insurance and services like tax shelters that protect your money from the hands of the government and greedy lawyers are so effective.
For example, look at the headline below from Stansberry Research:
At first blush it might not seem to be about fear, but notice the phrase “change your life.” There’s the uncertainty I was talking about. It’s combined with the bad news of the U.S. debt downgrade to make an intriguing headline that could prove crucial if you decide to ignore.
Putting It All Together
Using just one of these appeals in your sales letter will get you some good response. Use two, and you’ll get even better. All three…that’s a sales letter orgasm.
The headline Loud Sex Is a Billion Dollar Problem from Forbes combines fear and greed and sex effectively:
You’ve got the sex, greed [“Billion Dollar”] and the fear [“Problem”]. This wouldn’t make a great sales letter headline, however. You know why? It’s not clear that the problem impacts the reader or that he’ll personally benefit if he reads the copy.
If you want to do that you’d write “Why the Loud Sex Problem Is Costing You a Billion Dollars.”
Greed is behind the Publishing Clearing House’s Sweepstakes and state lottery games. Illinois took it a step further and hilariously wove fear into their greed appeal.
Let me close with a little secret: out of all of the above appeals greed is the most powerful. Meaning, if you can appeal to people’s greed you are going to write a better sales letter. This is born out by my own experience…and it’s born out by copywriting veterans like John Caples.
Then again, if you can write a sales letter appeal combining all three…you just might be able to retire young in a radioactive-safe bunker with Angelina Jolie. Or Brad Pitt.
By the way, the title of this post is “The Sexiest Way to Make So Much Money It Scares You.”
Got any idea what that is?
My idea was simply to combine all three appeals together in a sales letter, but I was wondering if anybody could come up with a real occupation or gimmick that combines all three.
Matching ponies to the person who shares the best idea.
Part of the Sales Letter Makeover Series. Other posts in the series:
- 10 Idiot-Proof Ways to Generate Trust with Your Landing Page Copy
- Everything You Need to Know about Writing Seductive Offers in 7 Easy Steps
- Gimpy Web Copy? Use This 4-Step Copy Formula to Make It Killer
- The List: What Copywriters Have in Common with Jockeys
- The 3 Ways a Sales Letter Can Fail (and How to Avoid Each)