People Don't Read Anymore, They Skim. Time To Write Sales Letters For A New Generation...

60 replies
I read a study somewhere that said because of the Internet and information overload, people don't read anymore. They skim. I find myself doing that too.

People's minds are chaotic and there is soooooo MUCH coming at them (Facebook, twitter, tv, radio, cell phone, text messages, home phone, kids yelling, email, The Web, etc.).

Reading has become a chore when our minds are now accustomed to sound-bites and "tweets". I hate "tweets". I don't care what you ate for breakfast twithead.

I think there is a new copywriting style emerging for sales letters. Simpler, shorter and more direct. Probably more effective too!

What do you think?
#anymore #generation #letters #people #read #sales #skim #time #write
  • Profile picture of the author excoder01
    Perhaps that's why video marketing/salesletters are becoming popular.

    Also, most just setup a simple squeeze page first...and then send the visitor to the longer sales page.

    As our generation's attention span is getting shorter, we have to adapt with it. Not really a good trend, but it's something marketers are adapting to with the changing technology.
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    • Yes I think you are probably right.

      We have to accept that we are writing for a generation who think it's odd to use a whole word let alone a whole paragraph!

      u no wt I mean, OMG Gr8 stuff - laters!

      I have to admit, since Facebook and Texting I have become a skimmer.

      I want to know the answer to a question in the quickest time possible so I can get on with more important stuff.

      Interestingly, I am not from the younger generation.( Lets say Too young for HRT but too old for a bikini ). So I think it's safe to say we need to start writng for several generations of people. Those who have always known this world with Social Media and Iphones and those of us who remember marvelling at a mobile phone you had to carry in the boot of your car.

      When I read a Sales Page/Advert I only want to know 2 things.

      1) How will this product solve my problem/fulfill my needs? (Top of the Page)

      2) How much is it? (Bottom of the Page)

      Once I start seeing " reviews" from Doreen in Doncaster and Nigel from Norwich I click away. We all know that most of these reviews are made up.

      Another thing that will cause me to click out is "Proof of incomes".

      Google "Proof of Income ClickBank" ( I just did to make sure I'd got my facts straight ) and you'll see what I mean. Fakes are easy to come by.

      In this age of texting and Facebook etc, we have become used to using a limited amount of characters in our messages and we start getting bored if anything waffles on for too long.

      I don't want to know about the person who is selling me the product and how they've gone from "Rags to Riches" in 7 days.

      Tell me, in as few words as possible, why my world is doomed if I dont buy the product and what I have to do to get my hands on it. Then I will go away and make some enquiries and if it's recommended by others I will come back with my credit card.

      Prime example - This post has gone on for TOO long - sorry
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  • Profile picture of the author JackTriggs
    For browsers maybe, but for avid searchers, they simply want to read as much as possible, be as informed as possible etc
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    I think you still have to do your own testing.

    All the best,
    Michael

    p.s. I kept my answer short for all the "scanners" out there.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin AKA Hubcap
      People have always skimmed. That's why sales letter are set up the way they are.

      The headline grabs your attention and draws you in. Some folks begin reading immediaely while others skim. The subheads should entice the skimmers to read.

      the more things change, the more they stay the same
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  • Profile picture of the author George Wright
    My first reaction is to debate this because I just love to write medium to long sales letters.

    Then I have to reflect on how I read a sales letter.

    I skim for comments on the product from names I know. I read a bullets point or two then I look for the order button. so you get no argument here.

    George Wright

    Originally Posted by roblawrence View Post

    I read a study somewhere that said because of the Internet and information overload, people don't read anymore. They skim. I find myself doing that too.

    People's minds are chaotic and there is soooooo MUCH coming at them (Facebook, twitter, tv, radio, cell phone, text messages, home phone, kids yelling, email, The Web, etc.).

    Reading has become a chore when our minds are now accustomed to sound-bites and "tweets". I hate "tweets". I don't care what you ate for breakfast twithead.

    I think there is a new copywriting style emerging for sales letters. Simpler, shorter and more direct. Probably more effective too!

    What do you think?
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Yeah ... the "new" sales letter Tweet Tweet: Buy my sh*t man

    lol

    I skim and I won't watch videos (being on dialup, videos aren't really an option)
    It's got to be available in text and I don't care how long your sales page is, I will first go right to the bottom to see the price. If that passes, I'll then go back to the top and start skimming for features and benefits.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lou Diamond
      Hello,
      I usually start at the bottom of the sales letter, I am sure many others do as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author jlxsolutions
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      (being on dialup, videos aren't really an option)
      It's got to be available in text and I don't care how long your sales page is, I will first go right to the bottom to see the price. If that passes, I'll then go back to the top and start skimming for features and benefits.
      Dial up O_O such a thing still exist???
      No pun intended but lol i honestly thought that would be a extinct species by now
      Back to topic i have never ever "read" a sales page they all look the same red blue bla bla bla style and some hidden link at bottom that matters.
      Skimmin is the only way to go
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    • Profile picture of the author CMCarlin
      I am very much the same. I usually read a couple of bullet points to figure out what it is, jump to the bottom to see the price and if that is acceptable, I'll go back up to read more.


      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      Yeah ... the "new" sales letter Tweet Tweet: Buy my sh*t man

      lol

      I skim and I won't watch videos (being on dialup, videos aren't really an option)
      It's got to be available in text and I don't care how long your sales page is, I will first go right to the bottom to see the price. If that passes, I'll then go back to the top and start skimming for features and benefits.
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesJeffery
    A well designed sales letter should get people from the headline, the the next sentance, and to the next etc. If people are skimming sales letters, the letter is poorly designed.

    People interested in what you have to offer will read everything you write.
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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by JamesJeffery View Post

      A well designed sales letter should get people from the headline, the the next sentance, and to the next etc. If people are skimming sales letters, the letter is poorly designed.

      People interested in what you have to offer will read everything you write.
      I fully agree with this. Your headline should draw in the reader and make them absolutely salivate to read more. The whole purpose of the headline is to get people to read the first sentence of the sales copy.
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      • Profile picture of the author barbarajean
        I found myself saving emails with videos to watch later cuz I don't have time now, and what happened was my inbox piled up so much that it was stressing me out!
        I really hate the videos that won't show you how long it is, it could be 10 minutes or 40 minutes (or longer!) - what's with that?

        I think for both videos & sales letters, keep it short & sweet, with a link for a more info for those who want that.

        Then everybody's happy
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    chk ths sht out cuz its badazz ok c u l8r
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  • Profile picture of the author Dave d
    I still believe if the offer is of interest to them then they will read the lot regardless of how long the letter is. Obviously you will need to pull your target audience in first with your hook.
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    • Profile picture of the author SDenham
      Therein lies the challenge. SEO tactics don't work all that well in Sales Pages, I'm struggling with getting targeted clicks to a site with no capture page yet, really sweating bullets over headlines, and trying to make articles the shortest, and most motivating they can be. We are all becoming ADHD, but I guess my own short attention span comes in handy, because I can look at my site and go, "Whoa, no pictures, boring!" and know that a headline sucks because I wouldn't read it myself. I'm learning!!!! me so proud
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  • I like the idea but I think it all depends on the person. Many people have focus and read every word. Then people like me don't. It's tricky.

    It wasn't too long ago someone told me that in there test 45 minute sales letters did the best. I can't imagine that EVER but it's for someone who isn't me.
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    • Profile picture of the author JamesJeffery
      Originally Posted by automatedaffiliates View Post

      I like the idea but I think it all depends on the person. Many people have focus and read every word. Then people like me don't. It's tricky.
      Yeah. I myself have skimmed and still made a purchase. But if the solid content is there, if people chose to skim read the solid content is there for the fine readers.

      Edit: I usually only skim if I trust the provider and have heard reviews from other marketers. In which case I'm just getting a quick idea of the product before I press buy. I've even purchased without reading in the past, but only based on friends reviews and experience with the product.
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  • Profile picture of the author FuFu
    I scan and skim and that is precisely why I prefer sales copy to video. I want to read what I want to read at my speed (faster than the video) and bypass the pseudo sales pitches.
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    The one thing I actually learned from Frank Kern that I am glad I did was in his video about how he writes sales copy...

    He was suggesting that we should thread three stories into our copy...

    1. For the person who reads everything;

    2. For the person who skims most of it, but looks at all the bullet points; and

    3. For the person who skims everything...

    One version is written with regular headlines and normal text...

    The second version is written in Bold statements; and

    The third version is written only in H1 or H2 headlines...

    The headline readers will get the full story...

    The bold readers will get the full story...

    And the people who read everything will get the full story...

    Write for all to win all audiences...
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    • Profile picture of the author FredJones
      I like this approach - don't know how difficult this would be to achieve but this may in fact cater to everyone.

      Are many sales letters already not written this way?

      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      The one thing I actually learned from Frank Kern that I am glad I did was in his video about how he writes sales copy...

      He was suggesting that we should thread three stories into our copy...

      1. For the person who reads everything;

      2. For the person who skims most of it, but looks at all the bullet points; and

      3. For the person who skims everything...

      One version is written with regular headlines and normal text...

      The second version is written in Bold statements; and

      The third version is written only in H1 or H2 headlines...

      The headline readers will get the full story...

      The bold readers will get the full story...

      And the people who read everything will get the full story...

      Write for all to win all audiences...
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

        The problem is NOT long sales letters.

        The problem is NOT long videos (with exceptions for access problems like Suzanne's).

        The problem is crappy sales materials that worry more about tricking or manipulating people than about telling the product's story in a way that makes it more appealing than keeping your wallet in your pocket.

        People do read GOOD sales letters of outrageous lengths, if the copy is crafted properly and the subject is interesting to them. People do watch GOOD sales videos, if the production values and script are good enough, and the subject is interesting to them.

        People do not read sales letters or watch sales videos which bore them or insult their intelligence.

        People do read sales letters and watch sales videos that capture their interest and keep it.
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    • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      The one thing I actually learned from Frank Kern that I am glad I did was in his video about how he writes sales copy...

      He was suggesting that we should thread three stories into our copy...

      1. For the person who reads everything;

      2. For the person who skims most of it, but looks at all the bullet points; and

      3. For the person who skims everything...

      One version is written with regular headlines and normal text...

      The second version is written in Bold statements; and

      The third version is written only in H1 or H2 headlines...

      The headline readers will get the full story...

      The bold readers will get the full story...

      And the people who read everything will get the full story...

      Write for all to win all audiences...
      That's really smart. You also need to test everything because different traffic sources behave differently and video really is indespenable when doing advertising. Why do you think TV ads are so successful?

      TomG.
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      • Profile picture of the author tecHead
        Originally Posted by tommygadget View Post

        That's really smart. You also need to test everything because different traffic sources behave differently and video really is indespenable when doing advertising. Why do you think TV ads are so successful?

        TomG.
        Because they're 30 to 60 seconds in length and have hundreds of thousands of dollar marketing teams and researchers behind them and a company to follow up on the "pre-sell" they just accomplished in that 30 to 60 seconds?

        Frank Kern's approach to writing sales letters has out performed in every split test I've ever run (or had the privilege of being a part of), hands down. (lol, not to mention his own).

        Video sales letters are only 'effective' when they're "storybooked"; like Andy Jenkins has done all his (and most recently Filsaime/Farrel), (and why they've all been so successful regardless of length).

        We can sit here and debate and have pi$$ing contests all we want; but, bottom line is what works is what works... and we have more than enough examples to learn from.

        Just my 2ยข
        PLP,
        tecHead
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      He was suggesting that we should thread three stories into our copy...
      Also remember that when someone skims your sales letter, they will focus on different things. They look for testimonials from people they know and trust; they look for bullet points about things that matter to them.

      So while you and I would each skim through a sales letter and see maybe two testimonials and four bullet points that matter to us, they wouldn't be the same two testimonials and four bullet points.

      So the author of that sales letter, even though nobody cares about more than two of these and four of those, had better have at least four and eight of them respectively.

      That's the real value of the long sales letter. You start at the top looking for something that matters, and you skim RAPIDLY down the page until you see something. Then you start paying attention. Each segment of the page is ensnaring a new and different audience. Once they are sold, they will skip the rest and click "Buy Now" - so each section should be a full-scale pitch for that audience, not a partial pitch you'll finish later.
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  • Profile picture of the author TristanPerry
    It's been like that for a decade or more. It's nothing new that people skim read online

    But yeah, what tpw says is great advice - use bold, <h1> and <h2> headings and bullet points to provide a short version of the story. In other words, make sure that - if you read just the 'non-standard' text, the sales letter still makes sense.

    Logically this isn't too difficult to do either since we naturally use bold text, headings and bullet points to sum things up
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  • Profile picture of the author David Jackson
    Originally Posted by roblawrence View Post

    I read a study somewhere that said because of the Internet and information overload, people don't read anymore. They skim. I find myself doing that too.

    I think there is a new copywriting style emerging for sales letters. Simpler, shorter and more direct. Probably more effective too!
    The fact of the matter is, people have always skimmed sales letters. In fact, marketing experts have known for decades that most people go directly to the end of the sales letter looking for the price to see if it's something they can afford. Many years ago, the National Mail Order Association (NMOA) reported that 79% of people who open direct mail actually read the p.s. first.

    That's why using attention-getters like subheads and bullet points is so important. These copywriting techniques allow you to direct the eye of the reader, much like a traffic cop directs traffic.

    Regarding the length of sales letters, studies have shown that people will read long sales letters, if they are interesting. If a sales letter is boring, people aren't going to read it, regardless of the length.

    That being said, when writing sales letters, only make your sales letter as long as it needs to be to make the sale, and not a paragraph longer.

    David Jackson
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Ranger
    This is so true.

    People have so much information and so much garbage it's natural to skim.

    I think this is why video sales pages suddenly got popular.
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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      Copywriters have always known that their prospects are likely to be skimming their sales letters.

      That's why you use:

      # Compelling headlines in bold type.

      # Opening lines that drag your reader into the copy.

      # Action images with captions that tell your reader to read further to find out more about what they saw in the picture or tell you to take a certain course of action.

      # Subheads in bold that drag the reader into the copy.

      etc etc.


      It's important to understand that you shouldn't be designing sales letters based on theories so much as TESTING new ideas and models against old ones to see which ones work to increase sales in your particular case.

      Every product and group of prospects is different so different approaches will work in different cases.

      Split testing is the only way you'll have a reasonable idea of what is really working.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
    Banned
    Originally Posted by roblawrence View Post

    I read a study somewhere that said because of the Internet and information overload, people don't read anymore. They skim. I find myself doing that too.

    People's minds are chaotic and there is soooooo MUCH coming at them (Facebook, twitter, tv, radio, cell phone, text messages, home phone, kids yelling, email, The Web, etc.).

    Reading has become a chore when our minds are now accustomed to sound-bites and "tweets". I hate "tweets". I don't care what you ate for breakfast twithead.

    I think there is a new copywriting style emerging for sales letters. Simpler, shorter and more direct. Probably more effective too!

    What do you think?
    I think there sure are a lot of kindles and pdf books being sold considering people don't have time to read.

    I think whoever posted that is full of crap. If people have time to go on the internet, they have time to read about whatever it is they are looking for.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Black Hat Cat View Post

      I think there sure are a lot of kindles and pdf books being sold considering people don't have time to read.

      I think whoever posted that is full of crap. If people have time to go on the internet, they have time to read about whatever it is they are looking for.
      Gee... reading for entertainment is somewhat different than reading sales pages. Haven't found an "entertaining" sales page yet. I skim them ... don't even bother with testimonials and all the hype ... just the product details and price.

      On the other hand, I do have a kindle and when I buy a book to read and enjoy, I read it. It's not really about not having time to read ... it's about not wanting to spend a bunch of time reading crap.
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  • Profile picture of the author Klaas
    Funny thing is I read Michael's comment first. Guess I'm sort of a "scanner" myself. Still, when buying something I do take the time to do some research, I'll read everything carefully.

    Would love to hear more results from testing. Precious might be right about the videos
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  • Profile picture of the author Barry Unruh
    I just skimmed this entire thread and missed the red arrows pointing to the BUY NOW button.

    Did I miss anything?
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    • Profile picture of the author ECS Dave
      Originally Posted by Kevin AKA Hubcap View Post

      People have always skimmed. That's why sales letter are set up the way they are.

      The headline grabs your attention and draws you in. Some folks begin reading immediaely while others skim. The subheads should entice the skimmers to read.

      the more things change, the more they stay the same
      Exactly!

      If you are a "student" of sales letters, you may actually read the whole thing, possibly to learn something, IF it is a good sales letter. If you are, as mentioned by others, suffering from scroll-itis, and want the gist of the thing, then obviously you want to get to the end ASAP...


      Originally Posted by David Jackson View Post

      when writing sales letters, only make your sales letter as long as it needs to be to make the sale, and not a paragraph longer.

      David Jackson
      Truer words have not been spoken (or written) regarding a winning sales letter length...


      Originally Posted by KansasDragon View Post

      I just skimmed this entire thread and missed the red arrows pointing to the BUY NOW button.

      Did I miss anything?

      Something to consider, if your sales letter is getting enough traffic, SPLIT TESTING...

      Be Well!
      ECS Dave
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by precious007 View Post

        Wondering how many out there are "THAT" intelligent when everything that's packed nicely sells noways.

        (sarcasm)
        Sarcasm noted...

        Keep this in mind - some peoples' intelligence is much easier to insult than others...
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  • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
    I build my sales letters like a porn site. Lot;s of cool graphics and less text.

    Have a look
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  • Profile picture of the author MarkSherris
    I must say that I skim a lot to actually see if I can find some GOOD information!

    For example if there's a product about driving traffic I'll skim through until I find something that details "HOW" you drive the traffic, such as a list saying :

    1) articles
    2) video

    etc etc... rather than just believing sales pitch hype!

    Videos are good though, however they only really work when the video uses examples! If the video is just an extra sales page then they aren't too helpful!
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  • Profile picture of the author James Foster
    I agree with David (way above) people have always skimmed sales letters. That's why many copywriters will put dual readership paths.

    That way if someone is skimming and just reads the sub heads and bullets, they still get the jist of the letter.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    If your first couple lines are something that a person is truly interested they will read 20 pages. I think they skim to see if it is a subject which interests them, then read everyword if it does.



    Originally Posted by roblawrence View Post

    I read a study somewhere that said because of the Internet and information overload, people don't read anymore. They skim. I find myself doing that too.

    People's minds are chaotic and there is soooooo MUCH coming at them (Facebook, twitter, tv, radio, cell phone, text messages, home phone, kids yelling, email, The Web, etc.).

    Reading has become a chore when our minds are now accustomed to sound-bites and "tweets". I hate "tweets". I don't care what you ate for breakfast twithead.

    I think there is a new copywriting style emerging for sales letters. Simpler, shorter and more direct. Probably more effective too!

    What do you think?
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  • Profile picture of the author Vishal Mahadik
    Who said people don't read web pages in-depth? If your content is interesting and exciting then people will definitely read your content. In fact this is the only reason they are online. To look for the most relevant information available online.

    And if your content is most suitable for their own needs then they will definitely take keen interest in what you have written. You need to emotionally connect with your audience. Then and only then the people attention will be maximum while they visit your website or sales letter.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Size Matters.
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  • Profile picture of the author nyrsimon
    This is not a new phenomenon IMHO

    Long vs short copy has been tested time and time again and long consistently comes out winning. So if you want a shortcut then go long

    Having said that the only thing that - the ONLY real way to know is to TEST

    Testing is the most UNDERRATED skill again imho!

    And it is sooooo easy on the internet. Add a few tracking codes or use google analytics and boom you can know in minutes which one works best. I am really surprised more people don't do it!!!

    Simon
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Originally Posted by Brad Gosse View Post

    I build my sales letters like a porn site. Lot;s of cool graphics and less text.

    Have a look
    Complete Turnkey Website Package
    Checked it out. Dang Brad you are a busy bee huh? A man about business!
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by cosmokid View Post

      If you have a face only a mother could love, and/or a voice that sounds like someone scraping fingernails on a chalkboard, please don't cause people pain by forcing your crappy video or audio on the world. Please. Just. Don't.

      Hire a spokesmodel or something to do your sales video. Actors are always out of work and even if you throw them $100 to do a video or audio recording you'll never run out of wonderful people to hire.

      I say this as a former actress and radio personality, so I'm biased - but really, half the times when your video isn't converting, you need to look at the possibility that the conditions I mention in the first paragraph might be in place. It DOES make a difference, no matter how wonderful you are or how great your product is.

      Even some of the big name investment guys have voices that make me want to kill them - so it doesn't matter how many times they besiege me and my honey with free videos and endless audio reports - we can't stand to listen to them!

      A free pdf report or newsletter, that's fine.

      Showcase your STRENGTHS, not your weaknesses, and you'll do fine as a marketer. If you can't write, hire people who can. If your videos suck because you look like you belong in the cast of the latest zombie film, acknowledge this with grace, and hire a local actor to pretend to be you. You'll find them responsive to "auditions" ads you can post for cheap in your local newspapers.

      PS And ageism is alive and well. If you're too old - or even too YOUNG - your videos might not be converting so well.
      I used to work for a guy who openly admitted he "had a face made for radio and a voice that screamed for the return of silent movies." Yet he insisted on doing his own ads.

      His hook?

      The fact that on a good day he only looked like two miles of bad road and sounded worse. He used to wrap up the ads by saying something like "you know we keep our prices as low as possible because if you looked and sounded like me, would you do your own ads if you could hire someone else?"

      I'm sure the fact the background always showed his real sales staff - mainly very attractive young women dressed very stylishly - didn't hurt any. I'm still not sure how I got hired...
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by cosmokid View Post

      If you have a face only a mother could love, and/or a voice that sounds like someone scraping fingernails on a chalkboard, please don't cause people pain by forcing your crappy video or audio on the world. Please. Just. Don't.

      PS And ageism is alive and well. If you're too old - or even too YOUNG - your videos might not be converting so well.
      Funny ... when I had broadband and watched many videos, I never noticed or considered it important how old the person was, how young they were, whether they were pretty enough or how their voice sounded as long as their accent wasn't so heavy that it couldn't be understood.

      The info is what counts with me ... not the superficial stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author good2go4
    I have to admit I am a skimmer - I would be perfectly happy with a sales page that had a great headline and half a dozen bullet points that scream WIIFM - long sales pages with a heap of graphics annoy me because of the time it takes to scroll down to the sales button and I don't watch video sales letters at all because they are time consuming.

    The point made earlier about different types of sales letters for different users is a good one - I am thinking of trying the headline approach, with a sales button underneath; then a medium sales pitch with a second button and then of course the long drawn out version with yet another sales button of course. Has anybody done this (all on the same page) and was it effective?

    Just curious cos I can't get my sales pages to convert, lol.
    Lisa
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  • Profile picture of the author Halli
    I skimmed through your post and I agree :p I usually go straight to the bottom of a sales letter and skip videos. I like it when the message are direct and short. What does the product do for me and what does it cost? That's what I focus on.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Boring, not long... blah blah

    Marketer's test, they don't "think"... blah blah blah

    Been beaten to death already... blah blah.

    Don't want to bore anyone with the details.

    Moving on...

    Brian
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  • I have never read a sales letter in my life, my eyes glaze over after the first sentence >.< needless to say I cant write the damn things either.
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  • I, as a customer, don't read through a sales page no matter how Shakespearean the copy is.
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