6 TIPS FOR IMPROVING READABILITY

Did you know that 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an 8th grade level.

50% of people can’t read well enough to read prescription drug labels.

775 million people are illiterate worldwide.

And that 45 million of these people live in America!

The fact is that today most of us can’t read anything more complicated that a Tweet.

The addictive nature of the internet has left us with the attention spans of goldfish.

This means your copy needs to be extremely easy to read.

There a few things you can do to achieve this.

1. Avoid large blocks of text.

Break your writing up into dozens of bite sized paragraphs.

2. Use headlines and sub headlines.

These should be bolded so they stick out. Also keep them short. No more than one line and only a few words.

3. The font you use is also important.

Sans serif fonts are best because they are easiest to read. Your font should also be bigger than 9 points. Anything smaller is too difficult to read.

4. Keep your paragraphs short.

Especially your opening paragraphs. They should be a maximum of eleven words. You can help readers into paragraphs by using arrowheads and asterisks. Also use bullet points and lists where you can.

5. Break up the monotony of long copy by using boldface and italic.

Illustrations, pictures, and text boxes are also great for breaking up copy.

6. The number of words in your sentences is also important. Here’s a quote I once saw.

“Tests have shown that a sentence of eight words is very easy to read; of 11 words, easy; of 14 words, fairly easy; of 17 words, standard; of 21 words, fairly difficult; of 25 words, difficult; of 29 or more words, very difficult; so this sentence with 54 words, counting numbers, is ranked impossible.”

Any sentence longer than 29 words should be split up.

The basic rule of thumb is this:

Use short words…

Short sentences…

…and short paragraphs.

These are the keys to improving readability…

Increasing response…

…and getting people to actually read what you write.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

10 QUESTIONS THAT HELP YOU UNDERSTAND ANY MARKET

How do you write copy that actually converts?

Believe it or not, the secret isn’t using the right words.

No, more important is WHAT you say.

It doesn’t matter if you struggle to string words together

As long as you say things that appeal to the market you’re guaranteed to make sales.

You need to speak about their dreams, hopes, desires and greatest fears.

But how do you do this?

The trick is to understand your market on the deepest level possible.

It might sound like a cliché…

…but you have to know them better than they know themselves.

Doing this is tough.

(Especially if you’re not involved in the market).

If you’ve never played golf you’ll struggling to understand golfers.

But there are ways to make this easier.

For example, here are 10 great questions to ask when trying to figure out your market.

1. What keeps them awake at night, sick with anxiety?

2. What are they afraid of?

3. Who and what are they angry about? 

4. What frustrates them?  

5. What trends are occurring and will occur in their businesses or lives? 

6. What do they secretly desire?

7. Is there a built-in bias to the way they make decisions?

(For example, technology people are exceptionally analytical).

8. Do they have their own language or jargon?

9. Who else is selling something similar to them, and how?

10. Who else has tried selling them something similar, and how has that effort failed?

Take your time and think deeply about this stuff.

Weave what you find into your copy.

And remember, the real answers are never the most obvious.

Until next time,

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

PERSUASION TIPS FROM THE MAN WHO INVENTED CLIMATE CHANGE

Frank Luntz is a political communications consultant, pollster and pundit.

He describes his speciality as, “testing language and finding words that help clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or candidate”. This guy is a great example of the power of language. For example, he’s the man behind famous phrases like deathtax, climatechange and energyexploration. He’s known for using these to replace other phrases like estate tax, global warming and oil drilling.

What’s funny is that he doesn’t come up with this stuff by himself.

Instead he uses focus groups and interviews.

During these events he simply feeds the audience phrases and watches for how they react.

It’s all about looking for the specific words that trigger emotion.

In fact, he’s quoted as saying, “80% of our life is emotion and only 20% is intellect. I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think…”

This is absolutely true.

Emotional language is the most important skill you have to master as a copywriter.

You need to learn how to appeal to the markets emotions and not their logical or critical thinking ability. This is how you develop marketing messages which resonate with people and…most importantly…get them to ACT on those messages.

Until next time,

Cheers

Alastair Walton

4 TIPS FOR WRITING KILLER OPENINGS

The first few lines of copy are critically important.

You need to pull prospects in and hook their attention immediately.

If you cannot do this they will simply stop reading.

What you also need to realize is this:

The first sentence gets them to read the second…

The second sentence gets them to read the third…

The third sentence gets them to read the fourth…

And so on and so on all way to the end where (hopefully) they buy your product.

Now, without further delay here are 4 things you need to do when opening.

1. Explain the headline

Start by expanding on your headline. Remember, the headline needs to be as short as possible. This means you’ll have lots to explain. Your opening is where you do this.

2. Arouse curiosity

You need to make the reader curious enough to finish your message. The way to do this is by promising to reveal something. This should be something they desperately want to know the answer to.

3. List your benefits

Benefits pull them into the letter. List the benefits they will gain from using your product or reading the copy. What is it going to do for them?

4. Make it easy to read

Keep sentences short and simple. Use bullet points and paragraphs of no more than three lines. Reading your copy should be effortless.

Combine these elements and you’ll pull in more readers.

(And ultimately increase your sales).

Drop me a line if you’ve got any questions about this.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

THE SECRET METHOD FOR MAKING MONEY FROM CROWD FUNDING SITES

Do crowd funding websites really work?

More importantly, can they generate money for your project…

There’s no easy way to answer this.

Instead, today I want to talk about looking at crowd funding from a different perspective.

You see, here’s what you need to realise about crowd funding websites…

They shouldn’t be seen as a way of getting money.

It’s better to view these websites as a marketing tool.

When you post a project the aim is to get as many backers as possible, right?

But what you have to understand is that these are also a list of potential customers.

Your backers are essentially people who have raised their hands and said YES I want this.

The point is that you should experiment with using crowd funding as a marketing tool.

Take one of your products and post it on a crowd funding platform.

If doesn’t matter how much money you raise…

All you want to do is see what type of response your get.

After a certain period announce that your funding goals have been reached.

Then release the product and see if your backers actually buy it.

If you’ve done everything right a certain percentage of them should do this…

…which will ultimately result in a nice little sales bump.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

DO VSLs REALLY WORK?

Once upon a time VSL’s (i.e. video sales letters) were the hottest thing in marketing

It seemed as if everyone was converting their sales letters into videos…

Dozens of marketers were selling products they claimed could create the ultimate VSL.

This was the new revolution in internet marketing and couldn’t be beaten.

But here’s the real question:

Was this really true…

…are videos better than sales letters?

Unfortunately not.  

You see, VSLs didn’t actually convert any better than ordinary sales letters. Not only that, a lot of people were complete idiots when using them. They thought creating extremely loud, auto-playing videos that went on for an hour (or more) was the way to convert visitors. Not only that, many of these videos had NO interface whatsoever. You couldn’t pause, fast forward or rewind. What’s more, some people would only show the buy button halfway through the video – or worse near the very end. So while internet marketers claimed these videos converted like crazy the reality was they DIDN’T.

In fact, most VSLs were highly annoying and only retards would sit through them.

This brings me to my point.

The thing with VSLs is that it’s really about who you’re selling to.

They work great for trash products bought by idiots.

But these are also the people who will ask for a refund five minutes after purchase…

If you’re looking for a better class of customer then stick to a sales letter.

Personally, I’d rather sell to someone who’s going to make the effort to read what I say.

Bottom line:

There is nothing inherently special about videos.

They DO NOT have the ability to magically hold someone’s attention.

Sales letters are just as good.

And when done right they are infinitely more powerful.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT (QUICKLY)

There was a time when I was massively overweight.

Obviously I wanted to do something about this.

(After all, no one wants to be FAT).

But, like most people, I found it extremely difficult to lose weight.

Despite starting a serious exercise program I struggled to make progress.

Then I read one of those stupid, “5 tips to burn fat” articles that are plastered all over the web.

One of those tips was keeping a food journal.

In case you don’t know, this is basically a diary where you write down what you eat.

I did this for a month then looked back over the entries.

After reading these I was both stunned and appalled.

The amount of food I ate was incredible.

Not only that, almost everything I ate was junk food.

I basically lived on garbage like chips, pizza, hot dogs and fast food.

At this point I immediately changed my eating habits.

And from there on out started steadily losing weight.

What’s the point of telling you all this?

Simply that if you want to change something start tracking it.

Whether this is spending less money, losing weight or learning a new skill.

By tracking your habits you will immediately take control of them…

…and start to gradually improve things.

After all, to quote management guru Peter Drucker…

“What gets measured gets managed.”

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

REAL LIFE DON DRAPER SHARES HEADLINE WRITING WISDOM

The headline is probably the most important part of your sales letter.

To quote advertising legend David Ogilvy:

“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

This makes sense if you think about it. 

But what it also means is that nothing is more important than writing a great headline.

If you’re struggling with this here are 6 tips that will help:

1. Keep it short.

Most people try to do too much in their headline. They write headlines that are far too long. The only purpose is to get attention. This means your headline should be short, sweet and to the point.

2. Make it punchy.

Use power words and phrases. Remember, some words are more powerful than others. Think about how the words you use make the reader feel. For example, instead of kill say slaughter.

3. Be credible.

Your headline needs to be credible and believable. You must give readers a reason to believe your claims.  Also try to quickly establish the credibility of the person who is talking to them.

4. Include benefits.

The headline should contain at least 1-2 product benefits. This gives people a reason to read the copy.

5. Use curiosity.

Curiosity is the most powerful human motivator. Use it as often as you can in your headlines.

6. Ask a question.

This is by far the easiest way to write a headline. The question should be something your market desperately wants to know the answer to.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. One final tip I can give you is to write LOTS of headlines. You should honestly write at least a 100. Use every possible angle and keep going until something leaps out at you.

HOW SOCIOPATHS MANIPULATE PEOPLE

Many years ago I knew this guy who was (I’m 100% convinced) a real life sociopath.

This person was unbelievably shady and manipulative.

I could tell you hundreds of stories about the sketchy things he got up to.

The funny thing about this guy is he always, always had a sob story.

These stories were endless.

And after dealing with other possible sociopaths I realized something.

Elicitation of empathy is basically the primary form of manipulation used by these people.

From the get go they will attempt to tug on your heart strings.

There’s always a story they use to make you feel sorry for them.

And once you give in that’s when they pounce.

Another good example of this is homeless people.

Now, I’m not hating on the homeless.

Many of them have genuine problems and cannot fend for themselves.

But what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t be naïve.

A lot of these people are absolute predators.

The guy who tells you about his pregnant wife who has to turn tricks so that they can survive…and…who incidentally also has brain cancer…well…there’s a good chance he’s lying.

The bottom line is that you should be careful around people with sob stories.

Always keep your guard up.

Yes they may genuinely need help.

But a lot of the time you’re dealing with a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. The elicitation of empathy is the primary technique used by sociopaths to manipulate people. If you’re dealing with someone who always has a sob story…well…there’s a good chance they may be bona fide sociopath.

OLD SCHOOL YOUTUBER FINALLY WAKES UP

Toby Turner is an old school YouTube megastar.

In case you don’t know this guy is one of the original kings of the platform.

These days his channel is all but dead.

(Being accused of sexual harassment may have something to do with this).

He recently made a video where he shares some serious wisdom.

BTW, in case you want to check it out the video is titled: so I got this email from YouTube…

In this video he claims to receive an email from YouTube apologizing for treating him poorly.

Now, the video is a prank.

He didn’t actually get this email but there is a lesson here…

You see, towards the end he mentions – with great bitterness – the fact that he used to have more than 7 million subscribers. He goes on to say that he now realizes this means he basically had a mailing list with millions of people…and that if he still had this list he could simply email them every time he has a new video…

…and wouldn’t be at the mercy of the algorithm.

This guy is absolutely right.

Your most valuable asset is your list and you should always be growing it.

This is especially important if your entire business is based on a platform like YouTube.

No matter what you do you should always be building a list.

You never know when things could go wrong.

Or you’ll fall out of favor with the algorithm.

Or even get banned.

But with a list you can survive anything and carry on going.

Start building one now.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton