Pacing is a critical part of all consumable media, whether it’s movies, TV, music, WEBINARS, or… dun, dun, duuuuuuun…….
High-converting Video Sales Letters (VSLs)
In the first article in this series, we discussed the first steps in your VSL creation. In this article, we’re going to focus on the concept of pacing, and how to apply it to writing your VSL.
In an upcoming article, I’m going to walk you through an entire VSL outline to help you apply your pacing correctly, so don’t be concerned about having to figure out something that it can take screenwriters and copy editors decades to master. We’re all about sharing webinar best practices, marketing strategy, and everything that encompasses.
But, we’ll keep the lessons short and sweet so you can actually get through them.
Today, we’re just getting familiar with the concept in order to recognize its importance in the success of your VSL, because if your VSL has a high bounce rate (people clicking away before the video has finished), it’s almost always due to a problem with pacing.
Just how important is pacing to your VSL?
It cannot be overstated.
Without effective pacing you will, literally, lose your audience.
If you’re paid $15 to see the latest Transformers movie and it sucks (the previous disasters should have been a clue), you’re probably going to tough it out and opt to complain about it to your friends later.
But, if you’re watching a VSL and you get bored, you’re going to click away and go down the YouTube rabbit hole, instead.
So, your VSL needs to be full-on action-packed content from start to finish, right?
“Pacing” is not a synonym for “interesting” or “entertaining”. Pacing involves more than just putting your best content front and center. If boring your audience is going to switch them off, frantically bashing them over the head is just going to make them dizzy and irritable.
When you’re writing copy for a lead capture page or an ad, it’s not a bad idea to put forward your best feature, best benefit, and best testimonial.
But a VSL is a different beast.
A VSL needs to engage, generate interest, educate, and close the sale – there’s a lot going in this marketing form.
The type of pacing you need to apply to your VSL is something called…
Rising Action (The key to building tension)
Proper pacing applied to a VSL does more than just keep the audience engaged. It also gets people into a state of mind where they’re willing to spend money.
If you think I’m assigning too much power to something as seemingly innocuous as pace, then you’ve already forgotten how critical it is to every form of popular media. Let’s look at a universally recognized example…
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
I could have chosen from any one of a million different movies, but I’ve selected this one because there’s a fair chance you’ve seen it plenty of times and you’ll know about the scenes I’m referring to.
- The movie opens with Indiana being poisoned and engaging in a frantic battle to get his hands on the antidote. Indiana survives and escapes on a plane.
- The audience get a few moments to catch their breath and then the pilot jumps out the plane, taking with him the last parachute.
- Indiana and his friends survive by making creative use of an inflatable boat and find themselves in the mysterious Pankot Palace.
- The tension never truly goes because the audience senses that something is wrong with this place, but they’re given a little time to get comfortable again before someone tries to assassinate Indiana.
I’m not going to recap the entire story, but can you see the pattern in the pacing of the first 30-40 minutes?
It’s not constant action crammed into every second. The moments of excitement are punctuated by calm, allowing the audience to catch their breath and process what they’ve just seen.
The return to base level heart rates also makes the action, when it does kick off again, more impactful.
As the movie unfolds, that pattern continues, the tension and the stakes gradually increasing, until it culminates with a thrilling mine cart ride and a standoff on a rickety rope bridge.
This is “rising action” at its best. Always raising the stakes, but following peak moments of action with brief periods of calm.
Once you recognize the “rising action” phenomenon, you’ll start to see it everywhere. Movies, music, books, video games… the best examples in their respective genres, almost without exception, are carefully paced to keep audiences hooked from start to finish.
Pacing Your VSL
Using the “rising action” technique is also key to a successful (meaning, profitable) VSL.
Key moments in your VSL should be punctuated by moments of relative calm, during which you gradually ramp up the tension, before hitting your audience with yet another bombshell. All the time, the action should be rising, building up to your Call to Action (CTA).
There are lots of different ways to achieve this effect but, as an example, consider the moment when you reveal the price of your offer. It could be an amazing price point, representing incredible value, and offering the lowest ever price for your product, but if you just drop it into the conversation abruptly and casually, you’re not going to create that “rising action” effect.
Instead, what you do is…
- Talk about the cost of competing high-priced products.
- Then you talk about how much your product usually sells for.
- Next, you suggest an attractive price that offers great value, just for today.
- You immediately follow that up with the real price, one that is even lower.
- Finally, you announce the shipping is free, the product comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, and if they order now you’ll give them a second product for free that they can gift to a friend.
Can you see how that works?
The viewer really wants your awesome product, but they’re wondering if they’re going to be able to afford it. You build the tension by showing numbers that are much higher than your price point and, as you gradually lower it, the audience becomes more and more invested in the process.
The price point is now within their budget, yet you’re still slashing it lower and lower.
Finally, you announce the actual, amazing price for today – a huge bombshell that has the audience in a lather. And then you peak the action by throwing in the guarantees, the bonuses, and the free shipping.
That’s “rising action”!
Use it correctly in your VSL and your audience will be stuck to their seats, like bubble gum to your jeans.
Very soon, I’ll be publishing an article that takes you through the steps of a well-constructed, profitable VSL that has “rising action” built into its DNA. For now, your homework is to study other examples of rising action.
Watch some of your favorite movies, listen to some of your favorite songs, read some of your favorite books or, better yet, watch some infomercials on TV, and note how they use rising action to gradually raise excitement levels, but always following each new peak with a period of brief calm.
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In the next article in this series we’ll look at the business of writing your VSL script and go through how to write a high converting VSL with killer copy.