Welcome to Episode 35 Of Write with Influence.
There’s nothing quite like a bit of discomfort or even fear to make someone spring into action, so in this episode I want to talk about some ways that you can instill a level of discomfort in your customers to sharpen their focus on your product/service.
Listen to discover:
- Three risk associated techniques that you can use to encourage your customers to take fast action.
- How to develop a sense of urgency without sounding pushy.
- Putting techniques into action – examples of powerful copy and how you can adapt this to your own product/service.
This week’s Adoption Centre sketch illustrates how important it is to get risk tactics right and how, unfortunately, not all organisations will be able to convert faster by using a sense of urgency, even if they are including free ear piercing and a labradoodle thrown in as an incentive!
Back in episode 12, I talked about how we feel the pain of loss greater than we feel the joy of a positive emotion – it’s often more effective and persuasive to tap into potential loss when you’re presenting your offer rather than leading with the benefits, and this episode has been created with that in mind. Listen in to find out how to transform your sales messaging using my techniques and remember, it’s not about being pushy, it’s about making customers realize the value of what you have to offer and encouraging them to make an instant decision rather than ignoring you or putting it off.
EP 35: COPYWRITING FOMO – 3 TECHNIQUES THAT USE RISK TO CREATE URGENCY
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Write with Influence. So today I want to talk about getting people to take action and prioritizing what you want them to do over all of those other things that they could be doing. One way of doing this is to lean into the risk of not taking up your offer. Now, I talked about this and loss aversion theory back in episode 12, and this is where we feel the pain of loss greater than we feel the joy of a positive emotion. And this is why it’s often more effective and persuasive to tap into potential loss when you’re presenting an offer rather than necessarily leading with the benefits. And this makes sense. If you think about it, when we’re comfortable, we’re often less motivated to take action. If you’re in an okay job that doesn’t really light your fire, you might find yourself turning up each day for a few years and I can definitely relate to that. But then if you suddenly get a boss who is a nightmare to work with, who makes you dread turning up to work, suddenly you’re more likely to start looking around and dusting off that CV. And there’s nothing quite like a bit of discomfort or even fear to make someone spring into action. It’s a very primal reaction, like seeing a spider, for example. When I was younger had a huge phobia of spiders. I’m still not comfortable around them and seeing one will definitely sharpen my focus and make my new priority at that point in time to remove it from the house. I’m not hysterical or anything, and I completely respect a spider’s ability to eat bugs, et cetera, but they just freak me out. I just don’t like them. And I always remember as a kid, my parents would try and help me overcome this fear by saying to me, “It’s more afraid of you than you are of it.” Somehow that was supposed to make me feel better, but I just didn’t buy it for a second. Spiders aren’t afraid of us and I know this because they hold their ground. Sometimes they’ll charge you and sometimes they’ll crawl on you. They’re not afraid. Rabbits, little birds, wild deer, cute things that you would like to cuddle and approach are totally afraid of you, that’s why they run away. Spiders are bad asses. They don’t care.
So, in today’s episode, I want to talk about some ways that you can make your customer focus a little bit more on taking action because of a level of discomfort that we want to instill in them. So, I’ve picked three techniques that you can use to sharpen someone’s focus and lean into the idea that if they don’t take action then they may face a risk. For example, if I don’t evict a spider, it’s going to run away, have spider babies, and they will all gather together and smother me in my sleep in their thousands. I know what their plan is. And some of these techniques tap into that powerful motivator of FOMO, as the kids call it, or fear of missing out. What you want when you’re writing copy and presenting an offer is, you want your customer to imagine that they’re standing at a crossroads with two ways to go, one way is to not accept your offer, and the other is to accept your offer. What you want them to think is that if they take the path that doesn’t have your offer in it, if they don’t accept your offer, they will experience some kind of emotional discomfort, or maybe face something unpleasant, a little bit like those awesome Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston game books in the UK. If you’re not familiar with them, they were adventure stories, and each page was like a different scene in an adventure. At the end of each page, you have options. Do you want to go left or go right? Do you want to talk to the wizard? Do you want to put the bread in your satchel? Each choice would take you to a different page and the adventure depends on the choices that you make. Now, I never managed to finish one. I absolutely loved them, but I never managed to finish one and succeed. I always ended up either locked in a dungeon having eaten a poisoned apple, or being ravaged by a rat or something, but they were awesome. But every time you were presented with a choice, there was always that fear of “Am I making the right decision or not?” And that’s what you want to present to your customer, except that you want that decision to be really clear. It’s not, “Should I go this way, or should I go that way?” But more, I don’t want to go down that path of risk, I want to accept the offer and live a life of comfort and luxury and all the good things that you offer them.
So, FOMO – fear of missing out – how can we use this in our copy? Well, one thing to consider is having a limited time offer. Deadlines are great for sharpening people’s focus. Think about those essays you used to write at school or filing your taxes, a large proportion of people are going to spend the majority of their time fretting and working to get things done just before the deadline, and it’s the same if you have a limited time offer – you will often see a spike in people accepting the offer just before the time runs out. Now why would you have a deadline? Well, it might be because you’re actually running something that’s date specific, for example, a live event. Needing a deadline in this instance is obvious because if you don’t book before the class starts, you’re not going to be able to take part. But what if you have something that isn’t date specific, for example, if you sell art or digital products? Well, you can still have a deadline and use the power of FOMO by taking something away from the offer after the deadline. You might decide to increase the price so that customers would be losing money if they decided to buy it at a later date or you might make the product completely unavailable after the deadline. This is a very common launch strategy in online marketing which encourages people to buy a product, leaning into the fear that they may not be able to purchase it after the deadline. You may also have limited numbers, legitimately. A common feature of, for example, mastermind groups or group coaching offers, or even one-to-one coaching offers, is that they limit numbers and that can encourage people to feel that they have to act now, otherwise they’re going to miss out and not get a place. I know coaches who will work one-to-one with people and they’ll open up a certain amount of spots periodically because they don’t have the capacity to work with unlimited numbers. But could you also do this with a service? For example, if you did family portraits? Well, you might do a limited run of availability with an express service, for example, you might put out an offer and say, “Anyone who books this week is guaranteed to get their portrait the following week.” This could be a great incentive for occasions like say Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, or those holiday events where people leave it to the last minute to plan their gifts.
Another way that I’ve seen businesses do this is with beauty shops, parlors, aesthetic studios, places where you go in and you’d come out beautiful – I should probably spend some time there. Well, these places where you would book in for a hair massage, manicures, pedicures, I’ve seen some really good promotions that will remind people of a specific limited availability for that week or the next week and then they list the calendar so that prospective customers can see the current spots, but also the spots that have sold out. This is actually a really neat thing to do because it does a couple of things. One, it builds social proof because people can see that other people have accepted the offer, “Wow, look at those spaces, all these people have booked in …” and two, it focuses your attention because you can see that if you don’t book something now, or next week, then you may miss out on the chance to fit something in that time limit. So, there’s lots of different ways that you can do this, and I want you to think about what you could take away after a deadline to make your prospect feel that if they take that path of not accepting your offer, they really are missing out on something.
The second thing that you can do is to highlight the risk of making the wrong decision, and the wrong decision is obviously not accepting your offer. Now, even though life it’s pretty much, let’s be honest, it’s a lot of trial and error, and I personally think the more mistakes you make and the faster you make them, the more you’ll learn. But irrespective of this, we don’t like to make mistakes. I mean, we’ve all got regrets where we can see in a snapshot of time that, “Oh God, if I’d only done this, instead of that, my life could have been different.” And it makes us feel uncomfortable. We feel regret around that, around making bad choices and bad decisions. One of my favorite films as a kid was Mr. Destiny with James Belushi, and it looks at how a man’s life would have been different if he hadn’t been struck out in his state high school baseball championship, I highly recommend it, it’s an awesome film. I mean, Roger Ebert gave it two out of four stars, but Roger Ebert wasn’t eight when he watched it. It is stupendous. The point is, we don’t like to think that we may encounter problems because we have made bad decisions, but how do you use this in your copy without criticizing your prospect? You know, you don’t want to say, “Look, only idiots don’t take up this offer. And if you make this bad decision, you’re entering a world of pain and it’s your fault.” You never want to insult your customer, but instead you can take more of a friendly guide role and highlight the risks that you want them to avoid. So, if your product or service fixes a problem, lean into the fact that you don’t want your customer to continue putting up with that problem or worse, having that problem get worse. Phrases that you can use to describe this might be things along the lines of,
“Hey, we’ve seen other businesses or other customers find that if they don’t solve this problem, later on, they’re having to deal with bigger problems.”
Let me put that into an example:
“We’ve seen other customers find that when they don’t document internal processes and systems, when someone leaves or calls in sick and they’re the only person who knows how all this stuff works, then the business starts to lose days, sometimes weeks of productivity or face higher overtime costs just to stay up and running.”
So, that’s an example of showing how if you don’t do something, it can turn into a bigger problem later. Another way of highlighting the risks of making the wrong decision might be to say,
“Right now, you’re not able to do something that you want and it’s because of this particular problem that you’re struggling with …what would you focus on if you didn’t have that problem to deal with?”
So, putting this into an example, you might say,
“Right now, you can’t relax without knowing what content your teenager is accessing online. What would you be able to think about and focus on if you didn’t have to worry about their exposure to offensive, explicit, even predatory content online?”
So, all you’re highlighting is, “You’re not able to do something today because of this problem but imagine if you didn’t have to continue suffering with that problem.” So, you want them to kind of look down the path and say, “Yeah, all these problems would still exist and there’s value in eliminating those.” And that’s presumably what your offer would do. So, think about the crossroads your customer is at when they view your offer – what risks might they face if they decide not to take your offer and how can you describe them so it doesn’t sound like fear-mongering, but instead shows that you care and you want the best for them?
Now, the third thing you can try, and this is almost a subset of the second one, but it’s to show that they may be left behind. So, we don’t like feeling that people like us are outperforming us or that people like us are enjoying the things that we feel we also deserve to enjoy. That’s one of the reasons why companies love to see industry benchmarks. They want to see how they are performing compared to others. Back in school, we wanted to know how our friends did on tests – we wanted to know where we were ranked, because if we were at the bottom of the class, we might think we need to improve, if we were at the top of the class, we probably might just feel a little bit full of ourselves and say, “Yay us!” But we do like to know how we’re doing compared to others and that can be a very powerful motivator, particularly if we think other people are doing better than us. So you can absolutely use this in your copy to be persuasive. Sometimes this is used by showing what other people have achieved with you. For example, you might explain that one of your clients on your business coaching program now has double the clients and works half the time. On a side note to that though, if you’re ever making claims about what other people have achieved with you and what their results were, make sure that you’re always staying within the guidelines of your country’s advertising laws. You don’t want to suggest that because one person doubled their income, that someone else is definitely going to have those same results. So do make sure that you’re on the right side of your advertising guidelines and that you’re not misleading people. But there is definitely persuasive power in promoting the idea that people who take your path and your offer enjoy benefits that your prospect wouldn’t want to miss out on. I mean, you don’t have to give specific case study level examples, you could simply talk about the target market i.e., the group that they associate themselves with, and explain what people who make these decisions are able to do that your prospect can’t do if they don’t take the offer. Let me put this into a quick example. You might say,
“Business owners are realizing that if they don’t automate simple processes, they’re wasting employee time because they’re having to do manual tasks instead of focusing on work that actually adds value to the business. For example, if marketers no longer have to manually update content calendars, then they’ve got more time to come up with new ideas for advertising campaigns. They’ve got more time to run more advertising campaigns, and if you’re increasing your advertising output, it means that you’ve got more chance of improving ad performance, more chance of learning more about what your audience likes and doesn’t like, and that adds more value to your business than having people just spend time on repetitive manual tasks.”
So, there you go, three angles for highlighting the dangers of not taking you up on your offer by leaning into the fear of missing out. We have taken something away after the deadline, we have highlighted the risks of making a bad decision and then shown them how they may be left behind if they don’t take you up on your offer. That’s all for this week. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead. Remember, using techniques like this is never about being pushy, it’s about making customers realize the value of what you have to offer and encouraging them to make a decision there and then rather than ignore it or put it off. But of course, there’s always a caveat, how strongly you want to encourage customers to make a decision there and then is dependent on your industry. As I say, good copywriting is about being persuasive, never just about using these tactics to be pushy.
[New Scene – Adoption Centre]
Staff Member: Adopting a child is a big decision so take as long as you need, although . . .
Staff Member: If you did take one of these children, we have some great offers, but they’re only available today.
Customer: This isn’t something we want to rush into.
Staff Member: No, of course not. Although, I think this one would look very good on you.
Customer: It’s a child not a fashion accessory.
Staff Member: No, of course not. Although, if you do sign up today, we can have this one wrapped and ready to go.
Staff Member: Wrapped up. It’s cold outside.
Customer: We really do need to think about this.
Staff Member: Of course you do. Although, you should know that 13 people in your area are looking at this child right now. In fact, Sarah from East Anglia has just added her to her basket, and she’s almost on the checkout page.
Customer: We’re not going to be rushed into this.
Staff Member: Of course not. Although . . .
Staff Member: If you sign up today, you’re also eligible for a special bonus.
Customer: What kind of bonus?
Staff Member: We’ll arrange it so she comes with her ears pierced.
Customer: That’s barbaric!
Staff Member: These are the range of earrings you can choose from.
Customer: Oh, actually they do look quite nice. No, no, no, no. We’re not adopting a child like this.
Staff Member: What if I do you a two for one?
Customer: No. Really?
Staff Member: You’d have a ready-made family and as a fast action bonus, I’ll even throw in a puppy.
Customer: What breed?
Staff Member: Labradoodle.
Customer: Go on then, I’ll take two and the puppy but no to the ear piercing.
Staff Member: Excellent choice.