How to use language to persuade and sell
Cold calls. Telemarketing. Infomercials. These words send a chilling shiver down my spine. In a world where folk are over the abundance of “buy my thing” being shouted at them, how do you avoid being lumped in with the salesy slime? How can we tailor our copy to make our users feel comfortable?
Today, Cath Fowler joins Kate to uncover how you can use psychology based copy to persuade and sell. We’ll delve into using clever copywriting to break down trust barriers and create a message your clients will remember.
Tune in to learn:
- Why you should consider psychology when writing copy
- Using active voice and repetition to make your message memorable
- Why metaphors and similes work so well
- Using concrete claims to build trust
- The best way to convey percentages and time
- Getting bullet points right
- How to overcome objections
- The power of because
- How to create curiosity
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Oh and big hugs to smilinsamiam from Australia for the lovely testimonial.
Cath Fowler is an SEO consultant and copywriter who helps businesses get found and look good online.
Using SEO smarts and compelling copy she will establish your brand as the leader in your local area or industry. She loves working with financial services clients and regional businesses of all kinds – to help the little guys compete on the big stage.
Don’t make her pick which type of client she prefers out of those two. That would be like make her pick between her two cheeky daughters and she just won’t do it.
Connect with Cath
Kate: Cath, say hello. Tell us who you are and what you do.
Cath Fowler: So I’m Cath and my business is Cath Fowler Marketing. So I’m an SEO copywriter and SEO consultant, and I help businesses get found and look good online.
Kate: I like that USP. You have that honed.
Cath Fowler: I’ve been practising it.
Kate: Yes, we practise those a lot, and it’s a good thing to practise to get that right. It’s part of being a good copywriter, which leads very nicely into today’s topic, which is based on copy but not SEO copy.
Today we’re going to be talking about psychology-based copy tips. So what did you mean, when you came up with that title? What were you getting at?
Cath Fowler: Yeah, I mean, I guess just to give you a bit of the background of me. So my background is not … I haven’t studied literature or English, and Shakespeare almost is confusing to me. So when I came to the copywriting world, I almost found I needed a science-based mathematical formula almost to find my sweet spot in copywriting. And I discovered this school of thought that some of the big guys write about, other copywriters in this space, and it’s used quite a lot in conversion copywriting. Copywriting is basically just how you can do improvements for your copy that actually tap in to consumer behaviour and psychology.
Cath Fowler: So if you take a step back even from copy, I mean, one of my favourite subjects at uni was consumer behaviour and this is before social media and all that existed in my experience of marketing. But you go to the shops and those chips and those chocolates are on eye-level shelf. That’s all using psychology in marketing. They put those stupid little Kinder surprise things, little chute that you have to walk through in Kmart before you pay for things so my kids see them.
Cath Fowler: So there’s little things like that in marketing that I just loved 15 years ago, 20 years ago when I was learning about marketing. So when I became a copywriter, I was like, “Oh, there has to be little tips and tricks that we use in our copy that actually tap into the lizard brain that we have going in there that we don’t even know is driving our thoughts.” Because we actually are quite emotive creatures. We like to think we’re driven by logic, but we’re actually driven a lot by emotion. So that’s I guess where my 11 tips are about today. They’re about subtle things you can do in your copy, and not even being a copywriter. Just subtle changes you can make in your copy that can help to, I guess, use persuasive language.
Kate: Yeah, I love that. And I think the thing is often, even though I am copywriter, sometimes I read … I get sucked in by the ads and I’m not quite sure why, and it takes a bit of a step back to go, “What was it about that that compelled me to click? That compelled me to buy? Why was it so easy to flow through that page and buy the thing?” Whereas on others I stop myself before I get to the shopping cart or before I make the call.
Kate: So you’ve got 11 tips to share today. Some of them, especially if you’re a copywriter, may seem obvious. But as Cath said before we started talking, often we know these things but we forget to implement them. So I think this 11 point thing is a great little checklist. Maybe we could even make it into a little checklist to just go, “Have I done all these things? Have I ticked off each of these?” So let’s start with the first one, which is one that’s mentioned a lot, but often people don’t understand if they’re not copywriters, and that’s using the active voice. So what do we mean by using the active voice?
Cath Fowler: Yeah, so basically, I mean, we would have learned this in your course in the copywriting week. But there’s passive voice and there’s active voice. So passive voice would be me saying, “Some useful tips will be discussed in today’s master class.” Whereas, active voice is, “This presentation discusses some useful tips to improve your copywriting.” So it’s just framing that copy in a way that is a more positive and active tone. Tone’s not the right word. Phrasing.
Kate: Structure. Yeah. I find it very hard because we did agree before this that I would then give an example, but I find it very hard to articulate the difference. And so, one little tool that you can use to check if you’re using active or passive voice is the Hemingway app, which we recommend. It’s a free one. And it will just highlight all the instances of passive voice. And once you see them labelled for you, it’s easy to flip it around. Can you just repeat that example, though? Just one more time so I can [crosstalk 00:04:56].
Cath Fowler: The passive is, “Some useful tips will be discussed in this presentation,” and the active is, “This presentation discusses some useful tips.” So you’re actually making the presentation part the focus, as opposed to the tips part. So it’s actually saying the same thing. It’s just saying in a slightly different way. And I think at Copy Con last year, Kelly Exeter has some great examples of this, the men ran to the store and she flipped it around.
Kate: Yeah. And I wonder why that works. Is it just because it feels more alive? It feels more real? It feels more active? I mean, active, obviously.
Cath Fowler: It’s a bit more positive in a way. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but it … The thing is, I mean, I used [Yoast 00:05:51] as well. Me and passive voice are friends. Yoast is always saying I use too much passive voice. And I think it depends what you’re riding for. If you’re writing a sales page, I think you want to be really mindful about using active voice so you’re getting your point across and things like that. But if you’re writing a blog, sometimes you can use more flowy, flowery copy that will put you into a more passive voice state that think is okay.
Kate: I think it works well in storytelling. And I think the thing is as well, it’s all about knowing the rules well enough that you’re confident breaking them. So there’s not hard and fast, but Yoast Hemingway app is a good one to find you.
Kate: Okay. So the next one is all about repeating the core message in different ways. So take us through point two.
Cath Fowler: Yeah. So this is basically … If you’re a copywriter or a [inaudible 00:06:43], a wedding entertainment-
Kate: Good example.
Cath Fowler: Yeah. If you’re doing those kinds of things … I said my USP at the beginning which is helping businesses get found online and making them look good. So with my copy on my home page, I repeat that message but I don’t say it the same way. So I’ll say, “I’ll help you get found in Google,” or, “I’ll improve your social media presence,” because that’s another way. So what it is doing is basically … And the psychology behind it is that people need a few instances to actually get a message drilled into their head. So basically there’s a quote that I read that said, “Tell your audience” … And I’m sure Kate has said this so many times. Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.
Cath Fowler: So that almost even goes back to my essay writing days in uni. You’ve got the intro, you’ve got the body, you’ve got the conclusion. So they should all have a core theme running through them about the core message that you want to convey in that page. Whether it’s a sales page or whether it’s a blog you want to say what you’re gonna say, say it, and then back it up again. So basically, if you’re selling a widget and the main thing about it is that it will save you time, you want to say it saves time. You want to say gives you back time to spend time with your kids. You want to say will save you three hours in the day. So they’re all similar, but they’re saying the same thing in different ways.
Kate: Yeah, I love that, and I think it’s the different ways that’s key. I was looking at one of the students in the current round of the course, she was saying that she was Melbourne something or other photographer, but she literally just use that same phrase four or five times on the page. So actually that kind of repetition becomes irritating. It feels like SEO spamming. So it really is about really understanding what your core is. And so, you’re being found online. Mine’s all about slaying the Google beast and grappling the Google beast and overcoming jargon and all … Yeah. So I think it’s about … To say, well, you’ve really got to know what your message is. And your message has to have a bit of expansion to it. It has to have some room for manoeuvre so that you can come up with different phrases, and if you can’t come up with different ways of expressing it, maybe it’s not a good core message, maybe it’s a bit weak. So I think that’s an interesting challenge.
Kate: Okay. Point number three is all about metaphors. And I love a good metaphor, so take us through that.
Cath Fowler: Exactly. So basically, how often do you see on websites words like quality, powerful, reliable? Really they’re all words that everyone uses that they’ve just become-
Cath Fowler: Who’s going to say that their product’s not quality or that it’s not reliable or whatever it is. So what you want to do is use metaphors where you can, and don’t go overboard because it can get silly, but you want to use metaphors to back up those phrases. So if you want to talk about a super soft pillow, you say it’s like laying your head on a cloud. No one’s laid their head on a cloud, but you’re painting an image in people’s minds. Or if you talk about, “Our app is the most powerful social media tool on the planet.” You can say something with Zeus-like power or Greek god power or whatever it might be. Find things that backup that. Reliable. You talk about when you have a reliable friend. They’re my rock. So it’s making instances of where you can use a word that really is meaningless now because it’s so overused, and finding a way to make people relate to it in a different way.
Kate: I love that. And I think it also evokes different types of emotions. I think often people are frightened of metaphors, because saying something’s got Zeus-like powers might feel a bit much. So I think that’s when we can move to similes, which is when we say it’s as something as a something. Do you know what I mean? So it’s powerful like a … I don’t know. As powerful as a lion or something like that. So it’s not saying it is the thing, it’s saying it’s like the thing. Metaphors and similes always confuse people a little bit.
Kate: But I mean, I think you can be bold and metaphors are bold and I think it’s good. If you have strong values and strong characteristics of your products, you should play with that. And playful writing and creative writing will really differentiate your copy from everyone else. So I do think it’s looking for words like innovative, unique, powerful, quality, affordable, and almost highlighting them and forcing yourself to maybe pick two or three that you’re going to swap out with something a bit more creative and a bit more playful, and that’s great advice.
Kate: Okay, next point. Point number four is all about concrete claims.
Cath Fowler: So this almost backs up the point before about quality and reliable and powerful and all those … Affordable. They don’t mean a lot these days. The same when you make generic claims. So if you say, “We’ll respond to you fast,” or, “Our customers love us,” or, “Our email platform is super reliable.” They actually don’t really mean anything. So instead, that first example, “We will respond fast.” Say, “We’ll respond to you within 24 hours.” Or, “Our customers love us.” 572 clients think we’re fabulous. 872, 5-star Google reviews. Use concrete claims to be able to back up what you’re saying. I guess in terms of reliability, “We guarantee 99% uptime,” you see with like site hostings and things like that. So how can you take something that’s a little bit like people just go, “Meh, everyone’s saying that,” and actually back it up with something a little bit more concrete that you can deliver on?
Kate: Yes. I always refer to this as specificity, which I can never say very well. So be specific in your claims, and I talk about how in the course I used to have lots and lots of worksheets. But then I realised that lots means completely different things to different people, as does affordable. And I would say, sometimes affordable is a good one. That’s what I recommend a lot because it will mean different things to different people and that’s okay sometimes. But giving an actual price is much more powerful because then that’s the specifics and people can make a definite choice. So I love that one. I can’t say specificity but I do like specificity.
Kate: So the next one carries on from this and that’s actually using percentages and statistics to back up your copy and make it more believable as well.
Cath Fowler: Yeah. So this is actually also how you can say those percentages. So this is used a lot in the charity space and the medical world. Instead of saying 20% of people will be affected by this disease, or 20% of people will come across this, or 20% of people will need to make a claim. Change that and say 1 in 5 people will be affected by this, because when you suddenly change … 20% means not a lot. And these are so subtle things, but you don’t even know your brain’s processing it differently, because suddenly when you say 1 in 5, you’re like, “Whoa, there’s five people in my family.” 1 in 5 of us could be impacted by this thing. So I think it’s just … That’s more about, yes, it’s using to back up your message, but it’s actually how you frame it makes people think differently.
Cath Fowler: And if it’s a negative percentage that you actually don’t want to talk up that much, it might be better conveying it as 20%. But when it’s something like you’re trying to get donations for a charity, you want to know 1 in 2 people in their lifetime will be affected by cancer. That’s far more powerful than 50%.
Kate: I love this one. And I think because I don’t have a mathematical brain, it takes me longer to process percentages. It takes me longer to go, “Okay. So 20% of the people spent this much money. Well what is that?” It’s a little bit of a slower get. 1 in 5 makes more sense to me. It’s just an easier guess. A third. See, I don’t even know how to say that-
Cath Fowler: 33.33%?
Kate: No, but like what would 20% be? It’s not a quarter. Fifth! There we go. This is how good at math I am people. But even a fifth for me is easier to get than 20%. But 1 in 5 is the fifth. And I would say that I’m not the only mathematically challenged person out there, so the more … But I also like your reverse psychology tip there. If it’s something you want to hide, then obfuscate it a little bit. Use that percentage to play it down a little bit. I like that.
Kate: And the next one is time, and this is the same kind of point how you convey time. So take us through this one.
Cath Fowler: Yeah. So this is very much similar to the percentage. So this is really applicable for e-commerce stores too. So you could say 7 to 21 days delivery time, or you could say 1 to 3 weeks. Now, what you actually want to do is basically … The purchase process and where someone is is where you want to determine whether you say 7 to 21 days or 1 to 3 weeks. So before someone’s bought something from you, or even I guess it applies to copywriters too if someone’s got to wait 1 to 3 weeks before you can start their job. Before they’ve signed on with you and you’re having those initial conversations, or your e-commerce store before they’ve made the purchase, you want to say 1 to 3 weeks because it’s a smaller number and it sounds like a quicker timeframe. But then once they’ve purchased from you, you want to get into more specifics and you want to say the 7 to 21 days. There’s a bit of research and there was actually … I don’t have the name of it here, but they actually talked about you want to minimise the numbers before purchase and then you want to minimise the units after purchase.
Kate: Really interesting. I mean, I look at those and I’m not sure which one seems worse to me. 21 days seems like a very long time, 3 weeks. It’s almost where you go, “Less than a month,” and then it sounds possible. “We’ll turn this around for you in less than a week,” sounds better to me than, “Six days.” But then I’m not doing specificity, but I’m deliberately not doing specificity because 6 days delivery time is shit. Do you know what I mean? You’re hiding the thing by not being specific. So it’s interesting, isn’t it? Which one does everyone else think? Which one sounds better to you? 1 to 3 weeks, I guess, sounds better. They both sound bad, don’t they?
Cath Fowler: Maybe I should’ve used a lesser example.
Kate: No, no, no. I get what you’re saying, but yeah. Interesting. But I liked that. So minimise before purchase and then minimise units or specify after purchase. Be more clear-
Cath Fowler: Yes. So, you’re being more specific. So if they think 1 to 3 weeks, which you’ve said before, but in reality you’re probably going to get that thing on day 20, you don’t want that piss off factor or you don’t want them following you up after seven days if [crosstalk 00:18:38].
Kate: Yeah, and I think we would just mitigate this whole thing by saying don’t have a delivery time of 1 to 3 weeks, and then you’re sorted.
Cath Fowler: Don’t be in e-commerce if that’s-
Kate: If that’s your delivery time, get a different job.
Kate: Okay. So the next one is … This is one of my favourite tools and something that is so obvious and yet I do not understand why people do not utilise this beautiful copywriting tool. It upsets me. So Cath, take it away. What is it?
Cath Fowler: Yeah, so this is to do when you list bullet points. You want to include the most important points first and last because there’s a thing in psychology that is an effect called the serial position effect. People remember what they saw first and people remember what they see last, and in the middle is where it all gets jumbled up. So your least important points should be in the middle, most important at the start, and at the finish.
Kate: I’m just like, “Yes!” To this. Yes! I love this so much. I mean, I just love bullet points, full stop. Look at your page. If it doesn’t have some bullet points on it, add them in. And I love this. This is fantastic.
Kate: The other little tip I would pass on on bullet points is to make the start word in the bullet points the same type of word. So either every start word is an adjective or every start word is a verb. So buy our something-something, get something-something, know something-something, and I always bold that first phrase so that literally if someone just scanned that list, they would totally get what the bullets are about. So it’s bold the front phase, maybe then a colon or a dash, and then the rest of the sentence, which to be honest could not be read. So for a recipe course it might be, “3 months of support: in a Facebook group where you can get help and answer your questions.” “7 modules, blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah, blah.” And that works really, really well. But that one of putting a good word at the start, because usually you do best to worst, or even worse alphabetical, which I see people doing. But I love that. So it’s the sandwich. It’s all about the sandwich. We’ve talked about this again. Say what you’re going to say, say it again, say it again, and list middle, and then this. Perfect.
Cath Fowler: And I think this also applies to global navigation on your website, because you talk a lot about this in your [inaudible 00:21:02] reviews. You actually place the information. Your contact should be last because you want people to actually click there and that’s the action you want to take. You want your about and services towards the front. Then whack your testimonials and fluffy stuff in the middle. So it can apply as well to bullet points and I think website navigation.
Kate: And I think it can apply to sales page copy. So you have your killer opening paragraph. Then you have all your meat, your lettuce, your tomato, and you can see this in the recipe homepage. It’s the core message right at the top, and then that core message repeated at the bottom, and in the middle it’s all stuff that people might scan through and might be interested in. But it’s got what it is at the top and the pricing at the bottom, which are the two most important elements.
Kate: Let’s move on to the next one. I think people struggle a lot with this because I think … So this is about creating a sense of urgency. I think there’s a lot of false urgency created. It’s not the term I’m looking for. False scarcity is done as well. So how do we create a sense of urgency without it just being bullshit? I guess.
Cath Fowler: Yeah. And there is a lot of bullshit and that was the point I was going to make. You have all these business coaches and things saying, “Sign up for this,” and then it ends. But then you clear cookies and then it’s another three day countdown bullshit. So don’t do that. People are smarter than that. Most people are anyway. But FOMO is real. So Kate actually does this pretty well with actually having real scarcity with her cause, and Copy Con, and I’ll give you my examples.
Cath Fowler: The mastermind, coming up for Copy Con, I knew there was only 20-odd places. I was driving home from Sydney to Coffs Harbour when the tickets went on sale, and I didn’t want to miss out. So we pulled to the side of the road on the highway, I got my laptop out, hotspotted to get my ticket because I-
Kate: I love that. I love the panic I induce. That’s right.
Cath Fowler: It wasn’t done in a fake way. It was completely authentic and the FOMO for me was real. Amazon actually does this quite decently as well from an e-commerce perspective. If you go and have a look, they’ve got limited time offers. And I’m not talking sales and stuff because I don’t think you have to do sales every now and all the time because then it just is useless. But literally do have things like this as only for three days or whatever it might be, and then the price … Or if you’re creating a course, this is a been around and then it’s going up. Those things can be done as long as they’re done authentically.
Kate: I think you need to be really careful as well. I don’t think you should cross over your scarcity. So I don’t think you should have time and price scarcity. So this year for example with Copy Con, I had no early bird pricing because I’m like, the scarcity is there are only 150 tickets. There are only 30 for the Mastermind, 100 for the conference. That’s it. That’s the scarcity, and they’ve always sold out. So that’s the scarcity. So I don’t have price as well.
Kate: And I think the other thing is if you’re going to do things like discounts on your services or even on your shop, you have to have some breaths between them. For example, if you’ve just done, “Hey look, you get 20% off with this discount code,” and lots of people order, and then 2 weeks later you have a 30% off discount sale, and it’s like … Actually, I just feel a bit duped because she said that this was a good deal, and now you’re just doing an even better deal and I just bought the thing. I think you’ve got to have some space between them while you’re actually charging your regular pricing.
Kate: And also you have to be consistent, because as you said, the whole cookie thing … And if you’re in service, the cookie thing with shops and the whole, “You have 10 minutes to get this in your cart. If you don’t buy it, it’s going to” … I hate that. Actually makes me feel quite sweaty and not want to buy. But if you’re a service-based business and you say, “Hey, I’m doing a special deal on blog posts or this or this offer,” and then you find out that’s actually the regular price because your mate emails you two weeks later and they get the same quote. I feel duped. And any duping like that leaves such a negative taste in the mouth. Worse than getting no offer at all.
Kate: I remember I signed up for, I think it was Webinar Ninja or Webinar Jam. One of them’s good, one of them’s bad, and I should know which. But it was constantly the countdown clock. You’ve got 24 hours to get it at this price. And so I panicked and I bought it. Next Day, went back to the site, it had reset. And it actively made me hate them, unsubscribe, and move to the other platform, which I think was Webinar Ninja. So you’ve got to be so careful, I think, don’t you?
Cath Fowler: Yeah, absolutely. One example that I think does it well, or maybe I’m just a sucker, is the airlines. Where they’ll say underneath the price, “1 seat left,” “5 seats left.” That gets me a little bit like, “Oh, I better book this.” Yes, it’s using the scarcity, and maybe it’s bullshit. I don’t know if the price is going go up. I’ve worked in the travel industry before, and with car hire we did do it. Once we sold this many cars, the price went up. So I think the airlines works similar, but that’s one that sucks me in because they have the underneath, “5 seats left at this price.” Oh my God, I better book my Copy Con tickets.
Kate: Oh yeah. And the travel hotel websites where it’s like, “5 other people are looking at this hotel right now.” And you’re like, “Oh, my god.” And I’m not sure it’s true either. And little easy ones are e-commerce stores, which is not so much scarcity, but a good little psychological tip is there’s a little plugin for WordPress. I think it’s called [Beakerting 00:26:36], which just pops up and says, “Someone in Whoop Whoop, Australia just bought one of these.” And you’re just about to either buy that product, and that gives you that bit of affirmation. Okay, well, Sue just bought it. I’m going to buy it. But it also does that thing of going, “Ooh, shiny object. I might buy that as well.” So that’s not the same thing, but I just think it creates a sense of affirmation as well as urgency, which is quite helpful. So if you’ve got an e-commerce store, it’s very much worth checking that out.
Kate: So the next one is a big one. We’re up to number nine, how to overcome objections. So obviously, everybody lands on your page wanting to buy from you but feeling worried about buying from you. They want the thing, they’ve Googled the thing, they’ve found you, but now they’re like, “I’m not quite sure. Get me over my fears and worries.” How do we do that?
Cath Fowler: I’m going to use the e-commerce example of one that I think does this really well. It’s The Iconic. So basically free shipping and returns always helps, because objections are, “Oh, my god. I want to buy this dress but it’s then going to cost me $20 postage,” and then returns, “If this dress doesn’t fit me, will it be easy to return?” And I’ve purchased stuff from The Iconic before. It’s a super easy process to return stuff. So if you’re an e-commerce store, free shipping, if you can afford it, or at least be transparent about shipping and not hit it on people last minute. And returns, make the returns process easy. Say things like your information is safely secured. You’ve got the SSL certificate on your website. We’re using encryption. It doesn’t need to be the core message on your page, but if people are searching out and needing insurance that you have a secure checkout process, say that your process is secure.
Cath Fowler: And if you’re talking about courses and things or things a bit more in that space, money back guarantees. Pretty much every big entrepreneur player in the world will write a 30-day money back guarantee on their course. It’ll have a conditions within an inch of its life that you actually have to prove you’ve done the work, show your notes, blah, blah, blah. No one’s getting their money back ever. People say, “Money back guarantee,” and people go, “Okay, well if I’m investing $1000 in this course, at least I can get my money back if-”
Kate: I have to stop you there. I just want to say that not all of us do that, Cath.
Cath Fowler: I know.
Kate: I don’t have a 30-day guarantee. I have a two-week guarantee and you don’t have to prove anything. It’s just that I’ll give you it back. But it’s only two weeks and that, I think, makes it a bit different. And in the last four years, I’ve had two people take that just because they bought it in a mad panic. That sense of urgency can lead to buyers’ regret. So you have to really be careful about that as well, which means as soon as someone’s bought something from you, you have to show value as quickly as possible so that someone goes, “Yes! I bought the thing and I feel good about buying the thing.” But yes, I agree with you. I think guarantees work really well.
Kate: I think examples of other people … I think what I’m trying to say is, you’ve got to know what the customer’s objections are and they’re going to be different for every single thing. So for example, we’ll use the wedding example again. If I was to book a band for a wedding, my biggest concern would be that they’re not going to play the music that I want them to play, that they’re going to turn up late, which would be … That’s going to panic me. And that they’re not going to be great at communication. Those are the things. You’ve got a lot of moving parts in a wedding, so those would be my big objections. So if someone had a website covering that topic, you’d need to cover those off. And you can do it in lots of different ways with statements. You can also do it with FAQs, guarantees. We guarantee blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, or you get your money back. We guarantee the band will contact you within 24 hours or you get your money back. It’s things like that.
Kate: So you’ve got to really know your audience to breakdown their objections and then reassure them that you’re going to do that. And then we’re coming to the next one, which I think ties into this as well. Because we’re talking about almost manipulating people. It’s evil, Cath. But then I like this one because it’s giving people back their free will. So explain what you mean by this.
Cath Fowler: Yeah. So what I mean here is obviously with persuasive copywriting, sometimes you can feel, like you said, you have the buyer’s remorse, you were sucked into buying with that 24 hour thing, and you’re like, “You have manipulated me.” No one wants to feel manipulated when they make a purchase. So there’s actually things you can do in the copy and the language that you use that yes, you’ve got those hard hitting, powerful, persuasive messaging, but you actually in the end put the power back with them. But you’re free to think about it, or, but you’re free to ask me questions. So a phrase like, “But you are free,” puts them back in control. And you don’t want to specifically say, “But you’re free to decide you don’t want to buy this from us.” But you can say, “But you’re free to ask us more questions,” or, “You’re free to make sure it’s the right time for you to do this course,” or whatever.
Kate: Yeah, I like that. And I think, one thing that I do on my page is I talk about who the course is for and then I very, very clearly outline who the course is not for. Even these copy tips can apply to even when you’re talking to people on the phone and you’re trying to sell them into your service. I will often say, “I’m not going to sell you into this. I don’t want anyone taking this course who doesn’t genuinely want to be on this. I don’t want anyone working with me who doesn’t genuinely feel I’m a good choice, because I don’t want you being dissatisfied and going out into the world and being negative about it. So the choice is yours. I can give you the facts. I can give you the features. But at the end of the day you have to feel good about making this decision.”
Kate: And that’s not necessarily reverse psychology. I guess it is to a degree, but it’s saying, “No, I’m not going to sell you. I’m not going to tell you that this is the right thing for you. I’m going to give you all the information that I have and maybe use some of these little tricks a little bit, and then,” yeah, I love that. But the choice is still yours. Do not click that buy button unless you feel good about it, and I think that’s so, so important. I love that and I love that line, “But you are free to.” And I think it’s having little phrases like that that make copywriting easier, and little swipe file phrases that you just write. Whenever I write a sales page from now on, I’m going to remember to include Cath Fowler’s little line, “But you are free to.” I think that makes it super powerful.
Kate: So talking of powerful … God, I’m so good at these segues. The final point, number 11, is the power of-
Cath Fowler: I do have a 12th one I forgot.
Kate: Oh, did you? There’s a bonus point. Okay. The power of because. Take us through this one.
Cath Fowler: Yeah, so I’m actually going to refer and read out some things here. So there was a study done in 1978 to illustrate the effect of justifying things by using the phrase, “Because.” So it was basically people were standing in line to use a Xerox photocopy machine, and the first person said, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” The second one just says, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” The third one, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies.” So you’ve got because I’m in a rush. No, because. Because I have to make copies. That’s what photocopiers do.
Cath Fowler: But what was actually proven from that study was when people said, “Because I’m in a rush, 94% of people agreed to let them go in front.” And 93% of people allowed people to go in front when they said, “Because I have to make copies.” So a fluff thing that doesn’t even mean anything, 93% of people still obliged to let that person in front. Where only 60% of people agreed to someone cutting in when they didn’t have that because. So actually, when you’re using language, think about how you can tie in a because. And to be honest, people use this in sales a lot, in sales conversations. They say, “Because it will do this.” So just simply the power of using that word in your copy can make a difference. It will justify as to why they should let you do something.
Kate: Yeah. Not just stating bald facts. I mean, I think it comes into everything. It’s the features and benefits and advantage thing as well. People going, “We have 20 years experience.” I don’t care. How does that help me? Do you know what I mean? We’re the perfect people to help you. That’s not going to help me. We’re the perfect people to help you because we’ve worked with businesses like you before and blah, blah, blah. So yeah, I think that’s a great little little cheat sheet tool as well.
Cath Fowler: Even use it on the phone with people. I’ll say, “Yeah, okay. So I can send you through a proposal, but because I’m taking bookings in advance, you want to make sure that you lock it in. Otherwise we’ll be doing this in January or Feb.” So I bring those things even into my conversations with clients.
Kate: God, I’m not calling you up. You sound terrifying. What was your final bonus tip?
Cath Fowler: And you actually do this as well in your email campaigns, Kate, is you want to get people curious. This is quite specific to email, but you know how you use personalization? So people love that. That’s one thing. But also in subject lines … I want to give an example that I found online of Barack Obama used when he was running for office. These are three subject lines he used. “Hell no.” “This is potentially devastating.” “Meet me for dinner.” Don’t you want to open and know what those three emails are about?
Cath Fowler: That’s my last tip is, if you’re an e-commerce store, you don’t necessarily have to say in your subject line, “20% off sale on now.” You can get a bit smarter with getting people to open it. And of course, you have to [inaudible 00:37:06] open rate with then once they open it, the message has to relate to it. You don’t want people to feel tricked into opening it. But piquing people’s curiosity is a big one. And something that leads onto that as well, I’ve heard a lot of school of thought, is having a PS line right at the end of your email, because people are like, “Oh, what’s this little tidbit of information at the end?” So people are naturally curious. How can you play on that?
Kate: Tweak that curiosity. I mean, I think we had a lot of this with clickbaity blog headlines and being a bit unusual and using unusual adjectives. And of course, with email subject lines, the problem is you can’t really use percentages and pricing in your subject lines because it will get flagged for spam. So that little bit of curiosity, it does really work. I think the truth is, I would open any email from Obama, but those ones were great examples. And I just think it’s being again … Another little tip for psychology. Be a little bit playful. Step outside the norm and don’t be so conventional. People like to play, people like to be entertained, and that can make them think.
Kate: So I think those were amazing tips. I’m just going to do the TLDR version of them. So use active voice. Repeat the core message in different ways. Use metaphors and similes. Specificity. Make generic claims concrete. Convey percentages with more impact. Convey time with more impact. The bullet points, most important one at the start and the end. Create a sense of urgency and scarcity, but not false urgency and false scarcity. Overcome objections. Use the line, “But you are free to.” Give the customer back their freedom. Use the word, “Because,” to justify your statements. And finally, create curiosity. Cath Fowler, that was amazing.
Kate: So to finish off, where can people find out a little bit more about you?
Cath Fowler: Sure. So if you just look up CathFowlerMarketing.com or just Google Cath Fowler and you’ll see the whole page is pretty much me these days. Just Google Cath Fowler and you won’t have to look too far to find me. But if you’re looking for a blog on this, you won’t find that on my website.
Kate: This is awesome. Yeah. So you can Google Cath Fowler Marketing. She’s obviously a graduate of the recipe for success, and probably one of my most dedicated students who’s actually applied what she’s learned, which is always rather satisfying. Well, thank you very much for that, Cath, and thank you for everyone who’s here to listen.
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