Do you remember the days when creating sales letters was all about long-form text-based pages?
Wrestling with decisions such as, what color to make the headline, whether or not to put it in quotes, whether to use drop-caps on the opening line, what font to use, underusing bullet-points, overusing bullet-points…
Whether to say Frakk it all and just drop $10k on a professional copywriter to do the work for you?
Ya, me neither. But, I hear it stunk pretty bad.
That whole process was complicated enough. However, it’s not even close to good enough for the 21st Century marketplace.
Whether or not you decide to have a text-based sales letter, the one thing you can’t do without is a Video Sales Letter (VSL).
Video is the language of the Internet. You want to have a slick VSL spearheading your marketing push if you plan on selling ANYTHING online. This is true across the board, all niches.
This is the first article in a series that will take you through everything you need to know to create not just a decent VSL, but a high converting VSL that milks sales from your audience like a loving dairy farmer massaging full-fat cream from the udders of his favorite cow.
*First lesson, right there. How NOT to write an appealing metaphor.
Where do I start?
An excellent question, my young Padawan.
Let’s start at the very beginning by formulating a plan.
It’s tempting to jump right in and start writing copy, either because you love that part, or because you hate it so much you want to get it over and done with. But first, you need to step back and look at the big picture.
If you don’t, you’ll end up doing so many rewrites, by the end of this process you’ll be ready to turn on the electric oven and inhale deeply. **See what I did there? Nothing would happen?! Heeheeeeee! I slay myself!
Think of this first stage of VSL creation as a fact-finding mission. Always remember, every five minutes of planning saves you an hour of botched copywriting that you’re going to end up redoing later on.
- Know the benefits of your product inside and out.
“Done! I built the product, so I already know everything about it.”
Whoa there, Speedy… this step isn’t about knowing your product, it’s about knowing the BENEFITS of your product. There is a distinct difference.
Even if you think you know all the benefits inside and out, it’s an excellent use of your time to sit down and list out those benefits.
Logic is easy. You can, no doubt, make very good arguments about why your product is the best on the market and the obvious choice for everyone in your industry. But people buy, primarily, through emotion. So, in many ways, benefits are even more important than features.
Take time to properly brainstorm every benefit that you can think of and really stretch your imagination to capture ideas that you may not have previously considered.
Then go even further and start listing out the benefits of the benefits.
For example, if a key benefit of your product is that it improves your golf swing, the benefits of the benefit are things like…
- Improving your handicap.
- Impressing your friends.
- Winning more tournaments.
- Reducing strain on your back so you can play and train for longer.
- Being able to brag to your spouse about your mad golf skills.
- Talking smack to your friends about the same.
What you’re aiming to do is put together a “master list” of benefits. This is going to be a valuable document to have on hand when you write your VSL script.
2) Know the pain that your market is in like it was YOUR OWN.
This is the flipside of Step 1 and is SO effective. Nothing resonates with an audience more than when someone KNOWS what they are going through and has found the SOLUTION to their pain. Brainstorm and write down ALL of the pain points that your product solves.
And, again, go a step further and figure out the pain that is caused by those pain points.
If your product improves a person’s golf swing, the pain it fixes is the pain of not having a decent golf swing. But the pain CAUSED by that pain could include…
- An embarrassing handicap.
- No one wants to play with you because you’re SO bad.
- Knowing your friends are laughing at you when it’s your turn to shoot.
- Coming dead last in every tournament.
- Constantly wrenching your back and walking around the office like you’re Quasimodo.
Remember, benefits and pain points are all about engaging the emotions. Don’t leave out important pain points because they’re awkward or uncomfortable. Focus on them, instead, because they are what is going to most resonate with your audience.
If you’re being constantly crushed by your friends at golf, you might laugh it off and make a joke about it. But deep down we know it can gnaw away at your self-confidence and ruin your love for the game. That’s a GOOD pain point to talk about because your audience will relate to it and will feel validated by you talking about it so frankly.
3) Codify Problems and Solutions
This step is about systemizing your product’s benefits and the pain points they fix into a logical sequence.
Think of it as an escalation. On the one hand you have pain…
- Poor golf swing.
- Can’t hit the ball as far.
- Poor round scores.
- Constantly losing.
- Damaging your back.
- Feeling embarrassed and out of love with the game.
And then you have the “promised land”.
- Improved golf swing.
- Hitting the ball further than ever.
- Breaking your course records.
- Winning matches.
- Strengthening your back.
- Developing pride in your game.
- Regaining enthusiasm for golf.
Each one of these sequences is a journey that, in some way, is going to be in your VSL.
4) Attention is about CURIOSITY and DISCOVERY
Revisit this step AFTER you’ve written your VSL script. Later, once you’ve produced your first draft, review it, all the time asking yourself if the script arouses both curiosity and eagerness to discover the secrets you’re going to share.
This is how you get and keep the attention of your audience.
Although this is technically an exercise for later, for now, review your benefit and pain point lists, and highlight the items you feel will be most effective in stirring these emotions in your viewers.
5) Testimonials – Specific Details Trump Big Outcomes
Begin gathering testimonials from your best customers. Or, if you already have a collection, browse through them and pick out the best examples.
However, resist the urge to focus on the most explosive testimonials. As satisfying as it might be to share that testimonial from the guy who turned pro just six months after using your product, this can actually be counter-productive.
The problem with outstanding testimonials is that most people will struggle to relate to them. Most of your customers don’t expect to become a world-class golfer, they just want to improve their game. A story about someone making golf their career after buying your product will sound too good to be true.
Instead, look for the testimonials where you can highlight specific details that illustrate believable success. In particular, examples where someone found success even through adversity.
“After my hip replacement I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to play golf again. My swing was always hit or miss and I figured it would have completely fallen to pieces after not playing for so long. But someone recommended I try the “Tin Cup Technique” and my swing is now even better than it was BEFORE my operation. I can now hold my own on Sunday mornings and, last month, for the first time in five years, I actually beat my brother-in-law on the final hole!”
By this point in your mission, you should have…
- A list of benefits (and benefits of benefits).
- A list of pain points (and pain caused by those pain points).
- A logical, escalating sequence for each of those lists.
- An idea of which benefits and pain points are going to be most effective to be used in your VSL.
- A nice variety of testimonials.
Having all of this information at your fingertips is going to make writing your VSL script a breeze.
But we’re not quite there yet. Before we get started on the copy, we need to talk about PACING. We cover this in the next article in this series when we discuss the concept Rising Action.
Did you know that WebinarJam and EverWebinar have over 30 high-converting Registration Page templates? Most have the option to embed your super sleek VSL with a click! Just paste the video link and Voila! It couldn’t be easier.
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