A few weeks ago we published a post called 11 Proof and Credibility Techniques Guaranteed to Make Your Copy Believable …
… Where we gave you 11 ways to prove what you say, along with examples:
- Reasons Why …
- Logical Argument …
- Strong Examples …
- Specificity …
- Personality …
- Personal Guarantee …
- Qualifications and Credentials …
- Strong Testimonials …
- Before and After …
- Track Record …
- Demonstration …
As we said then, proof and credibility in your copy are critical for engendering belief in you, your company, and your products…
If your prospect believes you, you can be an average writer and still knock it out of the park. If they don’t believe you, nothing else matters.
So this week, we’re following it up with 7 more proof and credibility techniques.
The bigger the toolbox, the better the results!
Many of these examples are pulled from direct response promotions in the health and financial markets, because that’s where the best copywriters tend to gravitate.
But these strategies are applicable to virtually any campaign in any market.
Let’s get started …
Technique #12: Process Sidebars
You’ve heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Well, you can use a process sidebar to illustrate exactly how something works with images. Compelling imagery makes it a whole lot easier to believe that your claims are based on a real, measurable phenomenon.
And with a single picture, you can say what might take many paragraphs to even try to explain with words alone. Plus, you can often do so much more powerfully.
This technique is used extensively in health, but it’s just as useful in other markets.
So take a few minutes to think about what strategies, techniques, or processes that you use in your business could be presented more powerfully as an image.
Here’s a perfect example from another famous health promotion written by master copywriter, Clayton Makepeace…
Technique #13: Authority
Authority is one of the most powerful emotional triggers available to us.
Think of how you feel when you’re driving along, minding your own business, and you suddenly see red and blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror.
The compulsion to comply is strong and immediate.
As Dr. Robert Cialdini notes in his masterpiece, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, authority works on us forcefully and unexpectedly. We often find ourselves complying with requests form authority figures without even knowing why.
It’s also a strong tool to use in your marketing.
If the reader doesn’t highly respect the voice of the copy, nothing else you say may matter. So use anything that positions the spokesperson as an expert on the subject matter in question.
This includes education, career experience, books authored, major media appearances, certifications, and anything else that reinforces their qualifications and credentials.
Here’s an example from a promotion for a financial newsletter…
The Track Record That Made James DiGeorgia Famous
James DiGeorgia started his first business while he was still in high school, and made his first million before he turned 21!
After completing an economics degree in just 2-1/2 years, he wrote several best- selling books about investing, and served as editor of the most profitable investment advisory services in the world:
* Gold and Energy Investor — a 20% average annual track record for 10 years in a row.
* SuperStock Investor — an average winner of 72.57% a year for 7 years.
* Gold and Energy Options Trader — a 584% average annual win over 8 years in a row!
James’ prowess in calling major market moves has made him a sought-after guest at investment conferences and on CNBC and Fox Business. He is frequently quoted in publications like The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Money magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and Barron’s.
Technique #14: Maximum Impact
One of the biggest challenges with proof-in-copy is location.
Master copywriters know that where you put your proof in a promotion is as important as the proof you use, and can make a huge difference in the overall impact.
Some general guidelines:
1. Load up the first few pages with a healthy dose of proof and credibility.
2. Match proof elements to the places in the copy where the claims are made. This simply means following up claims immediately with the evidence that supports them and makes them believable.
3. Place 1 or 2 of your best testimonials up front in your lead or on the first page, and then carefully scatter testimonials throughout the rest of your promotion. Feature a running column on the right-hand side of your web page that’s filled with testimonials, and put a long series of testimonials in the P.S. of your sales letter.
4. Save some of your strongest proof elements for the closing section, where sales resistance tends to be greatest.
This full page of powerful testimonials is located right next to the order form in a promotion for the investment newsletter, Stocks On The Move…
Technique #15: Unique Mechanism
This is just a fancy way of saying… “What makes your product unique?”
Why should a person buy your product, rather than one of the hundreds or thousands of other products in the market that claim to do the exact same thing?
You make your promises believable by proving to your prospects that you have a new way to fulfill a need or desire they have. A new “mechanism of action” that’s totally unique, different, and better than anything else out there.
The most basic example is the diet market, where you have everything from Atkins to the South Beach Diet to the Zone competing for the attention of consumers.
Each one has its own unique mechanism for producing results.
Here’s an example from a promotion for a nutritional product from Dr. Bruce West…
Ten years after her doctor told her she was going to die, Peggy Foss is still alive and going strong… working out, hiking and even shoveling snow with no worries about her heart. As she told Dr. West, “I have been given the green light to do anything. And I do!”
Dr. West’s secret? Astounding natural compounds called phytoceuticals that allow him to fend off disease, vanquish pain, and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
They might look like the supplements sold in stores or the drugs your doctor prescribes, but phytoceuticals represent an entirely new weapon in mankind’s ongoing war against pain and disease.
Dr. Bruce West, a pioneer in their use, says phytoceuticals merge the potency of modern pharmaceuticals with the safety of most supplements.
Technique #16: Case History
A case history is a powerful tool for bringing testimonials to life.
It’s often voiced by the spokesperson and tells an emotionally-charged story of the amazing changes that occurred in the user of a product. This is how it differs from a testimonial, where the words are coming directly from a customer.
You don’t simply repeat what a customer says.
You take all of the juicy details of their testimonial and you transform it into a riveting, emotionally stirring story. And you make absolutely certain it communicates that it was all made possible by one thing… YOUR product!
If your case history is strong enough it can often be used in your lead, as in this second example from Clayton Makepeace’s famous health promotion.
Here’s a screenshot of the actual promotion (text reprinted below)…
The Health Disaster That DIDN’T HAPPEN!
The harmless-looking white powder you’re looking at could have been a death sentence for John – and a catastrophe for his grieving family. Just hours ago, it was arterial plaque, clogging his circulatory system, restricting blood flow to vital organs, and setting the stage for a deadly heart attack or stroke.
Left alone, it had the power to turn John – a living, breathing human being – into a fading memory – a mere statistic: One of the 960,000 Americans who will be killed by a clogged circulatory system this year.
Who knows? John might have been one of the fortunate ones and survived. This plaque might just have triggered a mild heart attack or stroke, leaving him paralyzed, with diminished mental powers, but still alive.
Or, if he was really lucky, he might have escaped with a diagnosis of high blood pressure – and a lifetime sentence of drugs that may cause skin rashes, insomnia, depression, kidney damage and even rob him of his sexuality.
But now, this once-savage killer is as harmless as a teaspoon of sugar.
Because a few hours ago, John swallowed two, tiny capsules containing an amino acid so safe, that the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved it as an additive to baby food. Almost immediately, it entered his bloodstream, seeking out, arresting and neutralizing the rogue calcium deposits that had super-glued this plaque to his artery walls.
Then, in an act of supreme irony, the very blood that this plaque had once blocked quickly swept it to his kidneys where it was unceremoniously evicted from John’s body as a component of urine.
Technique #17: Vivid Word Pictures
Most products lend themselves to the painting of vivid, detailed word pictures.
When you paint a vivid picture of your product, and its benefits, using rich detail and imagery – you make it visually stimulating for your prospect, and the chances of them believing and acting on your offer become infinitely higher.
The more realistic and tangible you can make your prospect’s potential experience with your product seem to them, the more they’ll believe it’s true.
You can’t bore your prospect into buying your product.
You’ve got to do everything in your power to bring your product to life!
Here’s a killer modern-day example from our student files, selling a product for parents who homeschool their children.
It just goes to show these techniques work in any industry…
Before you order, I want you to imagine your life six years into the future. Your child is now a successful college graduate and happily married.
You have a lovely granddaughter whom you adore. It is Mother’s Day and the entire family has gathered around you, showering you with love and attention. You open a beautiful Mother’s Day card from your grown child. Inside there is a brief but heartfelt note.
Just before reading it your mind flashes back to a scene you imagined almost six years earlier to the day… as you lay awake worrying about whether your child would be accepted into the college of his or her dreams.
As if it were yesterday, you see the college admission officer staring at the tsunami of application packages piled high on his desk.
Diving in, he quickly and deftly dispatches package after package with fatal finality. “Boring,” “cookie-cutter,” “unprepared,” are his unspoken judgments as the reject stack grows dangerously higher.
One package, however, stops him short. Leaning back in his chair he notes that this student has had a remarkable education, filled with challenging courses. They have had tremendous experiences not just in the world of students but also in the world of adults. They come across as well-rounded, mature, with a strong sense of self. “I Am A Leader!” seems to scream from every page.
The official instantly makes the admission decision.
Noting that this is a homeschool student, he places that application apart from the unwashed bulk of rejects. It is to be given special attention for the biggest scholarships his university has to offer.
And as you read those words in that Mother’s Day card, “I love you mom. Thank you for homeschooling me.” At that moment, you know that investing in my Comprehensive Records Solution was one of the best decisions you made in your entire life.
Technique #18: Expert and Celebrity Endorsements
I like to call this the “Oprah Effect.”
Nothing sells products quite like an endorsement from a well-known, highly-regarded celebrity. Think Julianne Hough for Proactiv or Jennifer Aniston for SmartWater.
Most direct response marketing companies are in a market where celebrity endorsements are not-so-common. So if you find a way to pull this off, it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
While you may not get Oprah Winfrey or Bill Clinton to endorse your product, there are likely more realistic and cheaper ways to use a “celebrity” figure in your market. They just have to be a celebrity to prospects in your industry, not every consumer.
Be creative, and don’t think you have to spend a fortune up front. You could even offer your celebrity a percentage-of-sales or some other arrangement.
Here’s a great example from a promotion for Dr. Julian Whitaker’s alternative health newsletter, Health and Healing…
In The Final Analysis …
All in all, we’ve given you 18 different ways to pile on the proof and credibility in your marketing campaigns and sales promotions.
Now we want to hear from you…
Do you use any of these techniques regularly in your own sales copy?
Do you buy into the belief that using more of these techniques in your sales copy would increase your profits by an order of magnitude?
Are there any proof and credibility techniques you use that we didn’t discuss?
Post your thoughts below!
And if you think packing all of this proof and credibility into your sales copy sounds like hard work, let me leave you with this quote from legendary ad man David Ogilvy…
“Hard work never killed a man. Men die of boredom, psychological conflict, and disease. They do not die of hard work.”
Until next time!