Sales pages, PDF, and trust

A sales page might be bad for your sales.

How do you sell stuff without using the “Pain, Dream, Fix” formula? Or sales letters?

You build up a trust asset. AKA, a brand.

Then you use something more like a brochure and less like a sales letter to sell your thing.

You do it like this: https://marketing.davidcbaker.com/acton/attachment/5727/f-865bb22b-437c-4ecb-9c55-1ba194c3c908/0/-/-/-/-/2019finbench.pdf?sid=TV2:KtkUghipQ

Or like this: http://tmillergroup.com

Or like this: https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/courses

Don’t copy these. Be informed by them. Look for the patterns among them.

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The genre of the brochure does some helpful things.

1) There’s something about the more factual tone of a brochure that highlights weaknesses in the offer. The brochure genre focuses on the descriptive and divorces it from an emotional marketing story. It lays bare your offer in a rather cold, unflattering light and that helps clarify whether the offer itself is valuable.

2) Specifically, the brochure genre makes clear if fear is playing a role in the design of selling of your offer. If you wanna sell something and are afraid it won’t sell, you’ll make all sorts of comprimises. You’ll cut the price. You’ll load the offer up with “bonuses” and “freebies”. And if you’re selling the thing using a sales page, you’ll slide from that fear-about-your-offer state into a using-fear-to-sell state.

You’ll deploy fear of missing out. You’ll amplify the fear of inaction. You’ve all been on the receiving end of this shit, so you know what I’m talking about. The more factual tone of the brochure format resists this kind of slide from fear-about-your-offer state into a using-fear-to-sell, and makes it more clear if fear played a role in the design of your offer.

 • • • 

We’ve got one outlier in my examples above. Tom Miller’s page is not a brochure. But it’s not quite a sales letter either!

It’s so pure and free from the horse shit seen in many sales letters. No fear of missing out. No “agitating the pain”. No narrative designed to create an emotional froth.

Just clear, simple language that identifies a problematic pattern in business and suggests a step towards clarity/resolution. It has an outstanding level of clarity around who it’s for. If you’re an outsider to Tom’s world you might not see this because it’s encoded in the language he uses — he’s literally using insider jargon to establish who it’s for — but insiders to his world will see it immediately.

Tom’s clarity about who it’s for is coupled with a clear diagnosis of the problem. Again, presented in precise, strong terms without emotional froth.

The evergreen caveat: We all use direct response marketing tools until we can afford to abandon them. There’s no shame in being earlier in this journey and needing direct response tools like lead magnets or sales letters. If you are earlier in the bootstrapping journey, and your business is one based on genuine expertise, try like hell to avoid carelessly using emotional levers in your direct response marketing. To the more sophisticated buyer, carelessly using emotion to make a sale signals neediness, which calls into question the value of your expertise.

The likely objection: Ick! You are encouraging me to look “corporate”.

There’s this idea of willingly embracing constraints. I love it when we humans do this. You get everything from sculptures made out of butter to houses made of mud and recycled tires to the art of James Hampton to serious scientific and technical breakthroughs.

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Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly, by James Hampton

You can take this challenge-constraint of brochures, not sales pages any way you like. Here are some options:

  1. It’s simply a trust diagnostic tool. Without the emotional froth of a sales page, have you earned enough trust to sell with a more straightforward format?
  2. It’s a helpful foil to the sales page. You imagine the brochure version, and you use that reference point to restrain yourself as you write the sales page version.
  3. You actually ship the brochure version. Again, you do this if you have the necessary trust asset for the brochure version to work.
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Blair Enns uses this wonderful turn of phrase: work not yet done.

Sometimes long-form sales pages are the right tool.

And sometimes they’re a symptom of trust-building work not yet done.

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Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/pmc-csw-point-of-view

-P