Getting your prospects to beg for you to sell

Posted on May 6th, 2014 | Tags: Marketing, Technical, Tips and Tricks

One of the mistakes that most people make in advertising is that they assume that their prospect is ready to buy NOW.  Discounts, specials and limited time offers are all aimed at the prospect who is ready to buy now and just needs to be convinced who to buy from, or who just needs that little bit of extra push to take action.  But research tells us that only about 20% of the people who will actually buy in the next month or two are ready to make the decision now.  So you’re amazing offer and incentive to buy now is completely lost on 80% of your potential customers.

One of the best ways of generating leads is to use “education based marketing” to get prospects who will be ready to buy in the near future to put their hands up and ask for information.  And now you have the opportunity to teach them exactly why they should buy from you, and not from your competitors.  There is an old marketing saying: “The one who educates the market, owns the market”.  This technique has been referred to as “Information Packets,” “Consumer Awareness Guides,” or more simply “Free Reports.” But it is quite different from “product spec sheets” and catalogues (although I have seen many good catalogues incorporate education-based marketing with good results).

So here’s the basic framework

  1. Decide on your topic that you’re going to write about
  2. Create an attention-getting title for the report
  3. Break the topic down into sections
  4. Write the content
  5. Print and Bind the report
  6. Create a marketing campaign to offer the report
  7. Follow-up until they buy

Education-based marketing is also a fantastic option when giving quotes or even in the post-sales process.  Last year we needed some ant treatment so I called a local pest control company to come over and give me a quote.  The guy was very knowledgeable but they left me nothing in writing other than a business card (before or after the job) and they missed a fantastic opportunity to solidify repeat business and referrals.  They didn’t call back 6 months later offering a re-treatment either!

In this article I am going to focus on steps 1 through 5.  I’ll cover the other steps next month.

What should it be about?

Quite simply, it should be about the sort of things that your prospects are interested in BEFORE they are ready to buy or DURING the buying process.  What you need to do here is to grab the attention of the SUBCONSCIOUS MIND of your prospect.  Once you have told your mind that you are interested in doing something your subconscious mind continues to work on the issue even when you are not aware of it.  Let’s say that you’ve  decided that you want to remodel your bathroom next winter.  You know that you’re  not ready to start now and you start asking yourself a lot of questions.  Things like: how do I fit everything I want into my small space?  How much will it cost? Will I need to get a permit?  Can I do any of the work myself? How do I prevent mould?  Your brain now starts trying to answer those questions for you.  When it sees something that will help it will absorb the data or awaken the conscious mind to take action.

The key question to ask yourself when you’re deciding on the subject matter is this: “Would this information be helpful to someone in my target customer who at present couldn’t care less about me and who might not ever buy our product or service?”  Another useful concept is to try to “enter the conversation in the prospects mind” – that is, what are they wondering about or asking their spouse, friends, co-workers and how can you “join” that conversation with this resource?

How should it be titled?

The title of your report should be designed to grab the prospect’s attention.  It is akin to the headline in a sales letter, advert or newspaper article.  Most people will only read past the headline if you have given them good reason to do so.

So, if you were a builder trying to target people who want to redo their bathroom in 3-6 months time you could offer an Information Guide addressing issues like:

  • The step-by-step guide to planning your bathroom renovation project
  • 6 low-cost options for your new bathroom
  • The 4 mistakes most tradies make in the bathroom, and how to avoid them

Remember – the objective of the title is to get the person to read more.  Therefore it needs to address a felt need, open question, or something that worries the reader.  Don’t try to fill it with anything salesy, too much information, or try to appeal to too many people.  A secondary objective of your title is to EXCLUDE people who are not your target readers.  That’s right – you actually want some people to ignore this report and not respond!  The whole point of this technique is to get prospects to give you permission to market to them so that you can target interested buyers much more effectively and for much less money.

The title does need to connect with the structure of the content – there is no point in calling the report “7 ways to save money in your telecom spending” and then talk about plumbing (that’s obvious) or have only 3 ways or to have a different structure completely.  Your title is like a promise that you need to deliver on in your report.  The better you deliver on that promise the more trust you will build with your prospect.

Writing the content

So having chosen your topic and title you may well have already set your structure.  If you are writing a step-by-step guide then that is how you should structure it.  If you are giving seven reasons, then that obviously sets the structure of your core content.

Here is a suggested general structure for your report

  1. Introduce your topic
  2. Expand on the problem (highlight the pain, frustration, or concerns that the reader will be worried about)
  3. Introduce your content (especially if you are offering a step-by-step, you would want to explain what this process will achieve)
  4. Give your main content (the steps, options, mistakes, reasons, etc.) – each one should have a clear heading so that people can follow it well)
  5. Summarise your content (without selling)
  6. Introduce your business and why/how you can help (establish that your business is imminentaly able to assist in solving the problems you have talked about)

The cover and/or back page of the report should also contain the following:

  • the title of the special report
  • your business name and contact information (note that your logo should NOT be prominent – this is not a branding exercise – feel free to include it but do not make it dominate)
  • Copyright notice
  • consider putting a price to reflect the value (but don’t overdo it – no one will believe that a 7 page report will have a value of $1000 – $29 to $99 is more realistic)

Some general pointers about the way you write your content

  • Be conversational
  • Don’t use lots of jargon (unless you are explaining it)
  • Avoid the use of “we” – always talk TO and ABOUT the prospect, not about yourself and your business (unless you are introducing yourself or telling a story, but keep it brief)

What format should it be?

In this day of all-things-electronic the temptation is to do a PDF and email it.  This is certainly a viable option – especially if it is being offered from a web site.  Now you might expect us to say this given that we are printers, but it is still true: you will get better results from a printed and mailed report then you will from an electronic one.  Especially if it is more than about a dozen pages.  There is just something special about receiving something in the mail, and people are actually more likely to read a physical document than they are an electronic one.  Yes, it certainly costs more, but remember that you are now dealing with people who have self-selected themselves as being an interested prospect so you can afford to spend a little more on them for better results.

Interestingly, your special report does not have to be all glossy and colourful.  It depends on the content and the length, but plain text on a white page can work very effectively here.  In fact, one of the reasons many people never use this approach is that they don’t think that they can make it look good enough.   We certainly do encourage making things look well presented and readable, and we have seen and developed some fantastic looking special reports over the years – but don’t let the way it looks stop you from getting started.  

Common mistakes businesses make?

  • Trying to appeal to everyone
    the narrower your target customer profile is (within reason) the more likely you are to get some traction.  If your offer or title is too generic you actually reduce the likelihood that people will respond.
  • Not giving enough value
    it is tempting to hold back information, especially if you are a professional that charges for information or time, or where you are offering DIY tips that could allow people to do it themselves.  But don’t be afraid of giving away more information than you feel comfortable with.  Remember, you are trying to build trust and you must earn that!  There will always be cheap-skates who will try to do it themselves, and they are not your ideal client (unless you are a hardware store)!  Let them try – and then they might call you to help clean up the mess!  Most people who are not naturally inclined will eventually look for a professional to support them – you want to be the first one they call because they trust you based on the information you have supplied already
  • Trying to sell
    the special report is not intended to be a sales document – it is a trust building document.  If you try to sell or promote yourself too early in this process you will alienate the reader and could even do damage to your image with them.  Don’t make the report about you, your business, your brand or your logo.  This can all come later.  Set yourself up as the expert by all means, but do not put any pressure on the reader.
  • Making it all about you
    just like trying to sell, a reader will see right through self-promotion.  The best way to connect with your reader is to talk about them, or at least about situations they can connect with.  You certainly can tell stories about your experience that they will connect with, but don’t push it.  Keep it really focussed on them and their needs.

Next month we will talk about the ways to promote your special report and use it as a lead generating activity.  In the mean time, we can help with the creation of your special report in many ways.  We can help you brainstorm topics and structure, interview you to help generate the content, assist with graphic design and PDF creation (even if you only want to do an electronic version), and (of course) printing a physical booklet.