Top copywriters are master salesmen, first. The form of writing copy follows the function of knowing how to sell.
What most people need is a good, stiff shot of masterful salesmanship. Not more technical skill at copywriting, not more graphics knowledge, and not more of anything else.
Every once in a while, I come across a natural salesman. They are rare. And they intuitively understand what I'm trying to teach about using copy to channel killer selling chops.
But for most folks, trying to convince someone to buy remains a big darn mystery. This is particularly frustrating when you get your basic copywriting chops down – so your ad reads well, and covers all the basics – and yet you don't convert as many sales as you'd hoped for.
So here is the mystery, solved: It is actually easy to get a prospect to say – Hey, that looks like a pretty nice product! … and even agree with you that he should probably buy it.
However, it is much more difficult to move to the next level … and get that same prospect to actually pull out his wallet and give you money.
This is where world-class salesmanship comes in. It's not rocket science … but until you allow your stubborn little brain to digest the lessons, it will remain a mystery.
Even bad copywriters can coax a prospect to climb up and sit on the fence. But it takes a deep knowledge of persuasion to knock him off that fence, and into your yard as a customer. I used to have to hide the fact I was teaching so much classic salesmanship … because to many people, the whole concept seems fraught with scary implications of mind control and sleazy persuasion tricks.
Just get over it. Everyone sells. Almost every single human interaction involves some level of salesmanship – kids try to sell unrestricted access to the cookie jar to Mom … teens try to sell themselves as good dating material … every essay you ever wrote was a sales job for a good grade … politicians sell themselves for your vote … and every friend you have had to be sold on liking you, first.
People who get good at selling live better lives. Most people suck at selling, because they never pay attention to the process.
You can get through life without understanding salesmanship. But that's all you'll do – get through it.
The magic doesn't happen until you start learning the tough lessons.
If you are a marketer or copywriter, and you ignore salesmanship, you're toast. You can create a fabulous product, or present a fabulous service … and you can even get lots of prospects to eagerly tell you how great your product or service is, and how you should get filthy rich because it's so great.
But that's just piling prospects up on the fence, where they will sit forever if you don't learn how to knock 'em off that fence.
Success is not about getting good PR or lots of pats on the back. It's about closing the deal.
Almost everything I write has a lesson in salesmanship hidden in it. It's a little like teaching a kid about economics by giving him a dollar toward something he wants that costs two dollars – he's got options and choices to make, and will have to learn to handle frustration and manage his dreams. He may not realize he's learning basic capitalism, but he is.
And he learns absolutely nothing by you giving him the two bucks right off the bat. And don't get offended by the child psychology reference here. I had to learn most of my own lessons the hard way, and my mentors used the most cruel and insultingly-basic teaching methods possible.
Remember the car-washing exercises in Karate Kid?
Learning is painful. We're all basically lazy beasts, resistant to new stuff. And the deep arts of classic salesmanship often run against the grain of common sense, or seem to come from left field.
But then, everything worth having takes some effort. Every single lesson you learn nudges you a little further ahead than the other guy. The big lesson here: Most mainstream advertising, at best, gets people up on the fence.
Just knowing that massive success requires learning how to knock them OFF that fence, puts you in a position to obliterate your competition.
If you lust after an extraordinary life, you need to master the tools of getting what you want.
And it's all about salesmanship.