Today I’m sending you a Copy Insiders and “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox” flashback issue. It’s one I wrote 3+ years ago on my birthday.
There’s a valuable and widely-applicable lesson here you can use to really go deep into your prospect’s head.
In looking back, there’s also a warning here.
While the financial promo I’m featuring here did gangbusters for this publisher, it’s my understanding there was a crackdown on a number of financial publishers a few years later for using similar tactics… and a lot of costly and painful fallout that followed.
It’s why one must be VERY careful about overpromising about financial results (or making other extreme claims for other products)… and not push the envelope so far that it ends up having a disastrous impact on your business.
(Another reason for copywriters to ensure they have an S-Corp or LLC set up that they use for all their agreements… but I’m not a lawyer (-;)
In any case, I hope you get a lot of value from reading through this past issue. It’s just a sampling of the 97 past “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox” breakdowns you may have missed–77 of which are available nowhere else–that you get in my Ultimate Reading Bundle that’s on sale for 50% off…
…along with my Get Dangerously Good Copywriting System, Research Beast, 3Rs (which includes sample agreements), Million-Dollar Controls, and more.
But this Pre-Black Friday Sale ends this Wednesday. Check out the goods here.
Now, on with the “show”…
By Kim Krause Schwalm
Issue #72—July 11, 2019
Well, I’m officially another year older (as of today…”oh thank heaven for 7-11″!)
But I’m actually “growing younger” thanks to my handfuls of supplements that I occasionally remember to take, so no worries.
The topic for today’s issue has nothing to do with “de-aging” your body though. It has to do with one of the most basic, fundamental human desires of all time…and how you can leverage it in your copy and marketing.
And this basic, fundamental human desire is…(drum roll, please)…
Getting somethin’ for nothin’!
I remember when I first began getting royalty checks. I’d walk out to my mailbox in the middle of the cul-de-sac with that old Dire Straits song playing in my head…
“Get your money for nothing and your ch(e)cks for free…”
(The actual lyrics say “chicks” but I always heard it as “checks”. Plus that’s freakin’ sexist.)
Now, of course, those nice fat royalty checks weren’t for “nothin'”. They were the result of weeks if not months of intense research and writing…forsaking other clients and opportunities to focus on that one promo…
…not to mention all the years of hard work, learning from painful failures, and investing in getting myself to pricey events so I could get better at writing copy.
I earned those royalty checks (and still do). They weren’t some free handout to which I was entitled.
The most powerful word in the English language
You’ve probably heard the most powerful word in the English language is “free”. It’s definitely up there (“you” is tied at least).
I know I’ve spent part of my birthday morning (after starting out strong with an hour-long workout at the gym) figuring out what “free stuff” I can get on my birthday. I’ll definitely be using my Starbucks reward.
Maybe I’ll also score a free slurpee at 7-11 (though I think I should qualify for 2 of them since they’re giving them out for free to everyone else today between 11am and 7pm Eastern.)
The truth is, we all want free stuff. For little or no effort.
And if we see others getting free stuff that we’re not, we get mad. We want our “fair share”.
In fact, there’s one thing I find ironic as I get back to dabbling with financial copy. I’ve been studying the most successful controls that are running right now (and have been running for a while).
There are scads of hot financial controls promising “Freedom Checks” and “Federal Rent Checks” and “Cash for Patriots” and other ways to collect “free money”.
Yet many of the folks who buy these investment newsletter subscriptions tend to be conservative. You know, the same folks who so disdainfully complain about the “liberals” who want to give away the store to everyone, as well as those “freeloaders” who want something for nothin’.
Meanwhile, these highly successful promos promise these predominately conservative prospects they can claim their free checks from the government no less! (which isn’t exactly true… but people buy into the idea. After all, they work hard and pay their taxes, why shouldn’t they get their “fair share”?)
Okay, that’s as political as I’m going to get, but you can see the irony here.
None of us deep down are immune to this.
It all comes down to YOU doing the work
It’s one reason why “work at home” scams and multi-level marketing and other massive overpromising of worry-free, easy paths to riches work SO well.
Like some people who sell copywriting as an easy way to rake in a million dollars a year while hanging out on a beach or on your balcony in Italy. (I’ll confess–if I’m at the beach or in Italy, the LAST thing I want to do is write copy!)
I hope I’ve never “oversold” any of my programs as this kind of easy path to riches, because I know it’s not true. It takes hard work, practice, and some innate talent to achieve enough mastery that you can bring in the big bucks and write control after control.
Once you’re there–yes, it’s a great lifestyle and the money is pretty great, too.
And while the training and mentoring I offer can speed things up considerably and give you a major shortcut along that path, it still comes down to YOU doing the work to get there–just like all my past mentees have done.
But let’s go back to how you can tap into this primal human desire of getting the ultimate benefit the easiest way possible.
Whether it’s losing weight while still eating pizza, looking years younger despite those thousands of hours spent in the sun…or getting those “freedom checks” in the mail the government’s going to send you for some reason or another, you have to ask yourself…
What does your prospect really want?
We all want to have our cake and eat it, too. We want to “undo” the damage done. We don’t want to wait forever for results. We want to gain the same money-making edge the very rich enjoy.
These are all promises I’ve (and many other successful copywriters) have used quite profitably in our promos…no matter WHAT we’re selling.
Speed of result. Erasing past mistakes. Relief of pain or guilt.
Any and all of these can be a big part of your emotional hook. The key is to figure out what you’re really selling!
It’s not just about having more money, for example. It’s gaining respect. It’s feeling more powerful or safe. It’s getting more lovin’.
(Update: I give you my exact process for zeroing in on these motivators and dominant emotions in Research Beast, which you can get for 50% off through Wednesday here.)
But you wouldn’t come out and say this directly to your prospect.
There are the things they “will” tell you (like I want to grow my portfolio)…the things they “won’t” tell you (like I feel ashamed my wife is still driving a 15-year-old car because I can’t afford to get her a new one)…
…and the things they “can’t” tell you (like I don’t deserve to have money because my mother made me feel like I was worthless as a child”).
(Credit for this will/won’t/can’t explanation of your prospect’s emotions goes to the brilliant marketing strategist Michael Fishman…)
So if your prospect is feeling this way…and you twist your big idea in such a way that it really does seem like they can get “free money” from the government thanks to some obscure tax loophole no one else knows about… well, it’s gonna work like gangbusters!
With all this in mind, let’s take a quick look at an investment promo that’s one of several ones out there cashing in on this approach…
What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?
This video sales letter (VSL) for Banyan Hill has been running for well over a year. I believe it was one of the first to talk about “free checks” in the current crop of investment promos using this “free money” angle quite successfully.
Here’s a screenshot of the beginning of this VSL below… (update: this promo is no longer being used, so there’s no live link to share with you)
After opening with the big idea of promising massive payouts from “agencies” (that sound as if they’re part of the government), there’s example after example after example of real-life checks that people received as a result of this “program”.
I remember hearing about this promo at a conference I attended as well as sitting in on an Agora call. And it apparently was yuuuuggggggeeee…one of those promos that helped build a business just on its own by bringing in so many subscribers.
Of course, it drew a lot of skepticism and criticism as well. In fact, while searching for this promo, I came across a video (update: it’s no longer out there) where they’re coming clean with the real explanation about what these “freedom checks” are (likely in response to being attacked as a “scam”…)
But this is actually brilliant marketing…I think it actually attracts the more skeptical prospects because it’s so directly explaining…versus the subterfuge that triggers a prospect’s “willing suspension of disbelief” that happens during the original “Freedom checks” promo (and many of its imitators that followed…)
It’s like Gene Schwartz’s sophistication of your market: “How many products have been there before you?” In this case, it’s “how many promos have been there before you?”
(Update: I get into this more in my Get Dangerously Good Copywriting System, so you can identify what stage you’re writing to and use the right headline and tactics to get better results. Save 50% through Wednesday here.)
By being direct and attacking the “scam” skepticism head-on, now this “Freedom checks” promo angle gets new life and gains an edge over the others that are still promising free money from the government (to which at this point, a prospect who’s now seen that same promise again and again is saying, “Yeah, right…”)
The same evolution has been seen for years in the supplement market. You can’t just shout out a benefit-laden promise in your main headline, as your prospect has seen many promises like that before already.
You need a new mechanism, a new way that delivers the benefit faster or better…or some other new angle. Perhaps “free checks” from the government for staying healthy even (just kidding… though hey, that just might work!)
Okay, that’s it for this week’s issue! I’m off to enjoy my birthday and claim my free Starbucks drink, my free Slurpee (or two), and whatever other free stuff I can get my hands on!
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. Just a reminder, my Pre-Black Friday Sale is ending this Wednesday. Don’t miss this chance to grab that A-List-level copywriting program you’ve had your eye on… do a deep dive into my past “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox” breakdowns… or snap up my Complete Swipe File so you can study my proven controls…
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