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YOU CAN CONTINUE TO OVERPAY FOR CLICKS, SLOG IT OUT IN BRUTAL COMMODITY MARKETS, DICKER WITH CUSTOMERS OVER PRICE AND DELIVERY, LOSE ORDERS TO COMPETITORS AND FALL FURTHER BEHIND IN THE RAT RACE.
BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT ANYMORE.
Dear Online Marketing Professional:
When I was a young pup, soon after I discovered the crack cocaine of direct marketing, I had high hopes that killer advertising techniques would transform my dismal Network Marketing career into a success.
If I could just write a few great ads, all I’d have to do was stick money in the marketing gumball machine and get new customers out. Watch out world, you’re about to start comin’ my way.
One of my many experiments was: “Let me find some retail customers who will just buy this stuff every month and use it.” I sat down started writing an ad.
I forget what product it was for, some kind of household item I think, but I sat there for hours trying to write an ad that was interesting.
Couldn’t manage to do it. Nothing I came up with seemed to have any pizzazz.
Eventually I did turn out a sales letter. It got what I thought to be a dismal response, 1%.
I sent it in to one of my mentors for critique. He said, “Nobody’s lying awake at night worrying about any problem that this product solves. Considering that, Perry, your 1% is pretty respectable.”
Fast forward 15 years and you’ve described the EXACT problem that most online businesses have on Google: You can’t write an exciting ad about a boring product. It’s just not possible unless you LIE.
The symptom of a boring product is, you spend hours trying to think of something interesting to say and you can’t come up with anything.
My products at the time belonged to somebody else, a big dumb company. Me-too products, not all that different from anything at the grocery store. Because they weren’t mine, I had no power to make them more exciting.
I switched on my brain and started watching for something better, something more interesting that I could sell.
At the time I was working at a high-tech company. Fast forward a few months, and even though we were small and struggling; even though some of our products were from other companies, we still had cool stuff of our own. I decided to start a training course called DeviceNet Boot Camp which was unlike anything else that anyone had ever offered in our marketplace.
One night at about 11pm I sat down to write a sales letter. To my surprise, that mailer almost wrote itself. We were offering about a dozen advantages that this market had never seen before, all worthwhile, all interesting. All I had to do was tell the story.
By 3am that night, that sales letter was smokin’!
We printed it. Every time we mailed out that letter, we got $8 in registrations for every $1 we spent on postage.
That particular product only added maybe 5-10% to our sales. It didn’t carry the entire success of our company. However… it did radically reposition us and gave us huge visibility. A major trade organization private labeled our course and sold it to their members.
Most importantly, I discovered something that I have never, ever forgotten:
When you have a great Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, your ads almost write themselves. Your messages slice through huge amounts of clutter in the marketplace. You solve the “Me Too” problem in your war against competitors.
In MLM, I had no control of the product I was selling. I was living in a prison of my own making, believing that I needed somebody else’s Big Idea to make me successful.
The second time around was different. I didn’t own the company and had very few assets to work with. But with some creativity and resourcefulness, and a little cooperation from another company we knew, I could create a great USP.
Most Planet Perry customers are very much like I was then. You only have so much to work with, you don’t have lotsa cash to throw around, but you have flexibility and you do have ideas. In all likelihood you have more control of your destiny than I had in my Dilbert Cube job.
You probably do own your product, service, consulting firm, or intellectual property. If not all, at least part.
You also have the ability to easily source things from other people – in fact the world may even be banging down your door trying to get you to sell their stuff to your audience. And…. odds are, your products DO solve a problem that somebody is lying awake at night trying to solve. I bet they’re more interesting than what I was trying to sell in MLM.
Odds are 10 to 1 that what you really lack is simply a great USP.
It’s not that you sell the wrong product (though it might need to be changed a little bit). It’s not that you’re selling to the wrong people – you might already be knocking on all the right doors.
And the problem isn’t you. You’re just as good as anybody else who’s trying to sell to your customers, believe me.
No, the problem is that people do not understand the unique and special way that YOUR company is going to help them rest peacefully at night.
IS YOUR CURRENT USP FLACCID?
10 WARNING SIGNS OF AN IMPOTENT SALES STORY:
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #1. You pile on new features, freebies, and customers respond with more dissatisfaction. I had a customer who consulted in the transportation industry, helping companies with safety violations become compliant before the government came and slapped them with fines.
My customer, Dave, was extremely frustrated because even though 95% of his prospects clearly and demonstrably were in peril of paying steep fines, he struggled to get anyone to pay attention. He and his wife would somehow manage to get a few $1,000 to $2,000 gigs every month and pay their bills. But maddeningly, the harder he bent over backwards offering them fixes and advice, the more they would pedal away from him.
He came to a 4-Man Intensive in a last act of desperation.
After about an hour, I saw that he already had a great USP, a great sales story, and huge potential.
It was just BURIED. Nobody really understood why they needed to buy from him.
He couldn’t see the forest for the trees. He didn’t quite know how to express it. And the harder he tried to tell them about the nuances of his product offering and the extent of his knowledge, the worse it got.
I asked to see his sales pages. He had a FAX he’d been sending out and I looked it over. “You mind if I fix this?”
“Go right ahead,” he replied.
I re-wrote his fax. His old one had been about the laws companies were violating and how he was going to work to get them back into compliance. The new one got straight to the point. Just to give you an idea, here’s the part we added at the end:
P.S.: The worst possible outcome is if someone gets killed in an accident. If that happens and your machine shouldn’t have been operational, you go to prison. Blackburn Correctional Complex. Right beside Interstate 64. Ever been by there? You can spend up to 3 years behind bars. You see the highway from a brand new perspective.
To date, the hammer has dropped on three operators. Kentucky is prosecuting companies under Section 35. They’re looking for their next victim. Is it you?
Dave blasted the fax.
15 minutes later, his wife Melissa calls him. She is MAD AS A HORNET. Why? Cuz the phone is ringing off the hook and prospective customers furious. They wanna know why they got this terrifying fax, what she knows that they don’t.
Dave talks her off the ledge. We give her step by step instructions on how to handle these calls, and convert them into consultations.
Fast forward a few hours. It’s dinner time and we’re driving to the restaurant. Dave gets a phone call from Melissa. She informs him that they got a phone call from the Safety Commission in Kentucky, stating that they received complaints and will be conducting a thorough investigation of his consulting firm.
Dave’s face is white as a sheet, like he’s tumbled out of an airplane without a parachute. He desperately needs brown pants because he looks like he’s going to soil his jeans.
(And I have to admit, I’m wondering if maybe I’ve finally pushed things too far this time.)
Next morning, I give Dave instructions: “I want you to call Jeff Cramer’s office at the Safety Commission and request a personal appointment with him, right now.”
He’s never talked to this guy, but he leaves the room and complies. Gets on the phone, talks to the guy. Everything’s OK for now, nobody’s in big trouble. Jeff does warn him to never scare people like this again. (By the way, everything in that fax was true.)
The morning of Day 2, a paying client signs up with Melissa for a hefty sum of money, funding the whole expedition.
A week later, he meets with Jeff. Jeff has been overwhelmed with educating manufacturers about the rules, so the state of Kentucky begins sending Dave clients.
With this new cooperation from the state of Kentucky, Dave’s business has been BOOMING ever since. His marketing problems are over. Now he’s trying to deal with the volume of new customers.
You might think this was the work of a clever copywriter. To a degree it is of course, but that’s not what really happened. What I really did was simply uncover his true USP.
From that point forward, even an amateur copywriter could pull it off, no problem.
Dave’s USP was there all along. Literally from day one. He just couldn’t see it. And the harder he tried to add better salesmanship to what he thought his USP was, the deeper he dug the hole he was in.
Once we uncovered it and strengthened it with appropriate guarantees and conditions, he ceased to have a sales problem. In fact the state of Kentucky began to send him customers so they wouldn’t have to start putting people in jail.
His marketing problems went away. Now Dave had a capacity problem.
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #2: Customers can buy what you sell by the pound and know how much things “should” cost. This is deadly. The world is swirling around the commoditization drain. If any person can reasonably and accurately compare what you sell to offerings on Amazon (for physical products or information products) or Fiverr (for services), you are a dead man walking.
The Amazon Problem: People can buy Kindle books all day long for $9.99, sometimes 99 cents and occasionally free. If they can buy yours, and that’s the end of the line, this is bad bad bad. If they can search a bunch of products and yours comes up and they can directly compare yours to others, read the reviews and “neatly categorize” you, then your throat is getting sliced as we speak.
The Fiverr Problem: Fiverr is a place where people do stuff for you for five bucks. If you’re a buyer, it’s fantastic – it’s unbelievable what you can get done, by competent professionals, for the price of one latte. Just in the last 2 months, I’ve had people successfully research conference rooms and furniture purchases; I’ve found people who did transcriptions, graphic design, found obscure research papers on botany, all for five bucks.
One lady I hired was a linguistics professor, an outstanding professional who gave me extensive comments and corrections on an important document I was writing, just by ordering multiple gigs. All of this was CHEAP.
Great for me. But… if you’re on the receiving end of the five bucks, Fiverr is the world’s hot new sweat shop for knowledge workers. A 21st century Brave New World nightmare.
Can you go on Fiverr and find someone doing almost the same thing you do, for five bucks? Are you swirling down the Fiverr drain? If you can, then don’t say you haven’t been warned.
THE one-word solution to this problem is:
USP is when you have a truly great answer to these questions:
Why should I read or listen to you?
Why should I believe what you have to say?
Why should I do anything about what you’re offering?
Why should I act now?
What can you guarantee me that nobody else can?
When you don’t have good answers to these questions, your ads are hard to write, your clicks are expensive, and you’re swirling down the Amazon/Fiverr drain.
When you have great answers to these questions, your ads are easy to write, your traffic cost is cut in half, and you can even source your parts and labor from Fiverr and Amazon and still make great margins.
Which way do you want it?
IN 2017 , WILL YOU BE A USP KING
In the 21st century, you will be proving your abilities for five bucks and hoping the person turns into a client. Or you’ll be the USP Alchemist and King, the one who doles out $5 jobs to eager supplicants.
You get to decide right now: Which one are you going to be?
If you haven’t decisively chosen to be the alchemist, your decision is already made.
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #3: Your customer is more in control of the transaction than you are – they demand terms, concessions, price and delivery.
Do people call you up or email you and say, “I want this list of products, these services, these delivery dates and this list of quality assurances, and X is what I’ll pay” ? If so, that’s more nails in the coffin cuz it ain’t going to get any better.
The Internet is a serial killer – you never know who it’s going to take out next. If mass availability of information or connections makes you redundant, then your only savior is a killer USP.
Look at the price of ebooks over the last 10 years. In 2003-2005 it was commonplace for authors to get $29 to $99 for a reputable ebook on a good topic. It’s become rare to command such prices today, as Kindle books have chewed up the margins and spit them out.
People walk into retail stores with iPhone apps that do instant price comparisons, based on UPC symbols and barcodes. Insiders call this “showrooming” – where physical stores only serve the purpose of demonstrating the product to online buyers. Young adults under 30 think nothing of going into an electronics store, spending an hour looking at all the LCD televisions, sampling the wares at the generous local owner’s expense, then buying it online (with in-home delivery) for nineteen bucks of savings.
That’s mass commoditization, baby. First the manufacturing jobs went overseas, then the retail service jobs got plundered by iPhone apps.
It’s GREAT if you’re a consumer.
It sucks when you’re the producer.
Doing five dollar tasks on your computer may be more humane than dragging cement blocks over stone rollers to build the Egyptian pyramids, but it’s still brutal and merciless.
Despite all this, the well of human desires is still bottomless. No sooner can they buy the LCD television at the lowest possible price, than they want something they CANNOT get at Best Buy or on Amazon. Humans always want something else, and you can easily be the person they buy it from – but it’s gotta be unique.
It is absolutely impossible for Amazon or anyone else to erase the unmet needs that lurk in the hearts and minds of your customers. New opportunities are eternally there. You just have to know how to find them and position them.
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #4: When it’s almost impossible for you to rank on the 1st page of Google AdWords.
The #1 problem facing small advertisers is, big dumb money from big dumb companies. They drive the bids up and up and up.
It’s actually a mistake to think of them as “big and dumb” because they are, after all, bigger than you. But the point is, it’s not that their products are better. It’s just that they have deeper pockets and can spend more money than you.
They can afford waste. You can’t.
A killer USP cuts through the clutter like a diamond-tipped saw blade. But if you don’t have it, forget it.
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #5: You’re constantly in head-to-head battles with competitors. You know who they are, they know who you are, and every major customer chooses either you or them. You’re always keeping score.
When I created DeviceNet Boot Camp, my company was in a dogfight with a firm called SST. They were larger and prouder, and had a 2-year head start in the marketplace.
Then we rolled out DeviceNet Boot Camp. They could have done it too, they had more staff and equipment than we had… but we were first. They didn’t see it coming. Then when the trade organization licensed our class… they were HACKED OFF. They threw a fit.
But there was nothing they could do about it, and we walked all over them. Then we rolled this into back end offers and co-sponsorship opportunities with other companies.
We sharpened our other USPs, too. We focused on machine builders in places like Detroit and Silicon Valley, where our product had a decisive advantage over theirs in a non-obvious area. Three years later we had rolled that same advantage into a chip, which itself was a brand new, category-breaker USP. We sold our company for $18 million.
Much of the time, you create a better USP by taking what you already have and take for granted and putting it together in a new, exciting way. The other way we do that is by completely redefining what problem you’re trying to solve, and positioning the product as though it never existed before.
Often this requires little or no modification to the original product – just a change in your messaging. Many times different groups of people will now be buying the same product from you for very different reasons, taking no notice of each other, and perhaps even paying very different prices.
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #6: Look-alike ads running down the right side of Google. This is good for you because it’s a sure sign of an industry ripe for the wrecking ball. Here’s an example:
In a market like this with me-too, mediocre messages (most markets are like this, by the way), a host of mediocre advertisers are begging to get their heads handed to them.
The value of a Breakthrough USP easily exceeds the present value of your entire company. A service company that does $1 million per year in sales probably has an equity value of $500,000 to $1 million. One breakthrough USP can add hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars of value and drive six-figure impact to the bottom line.
Flaccid USP Warning Sign #7: You’re frustrated because all kinds of people who “should” buy from you are shrugging their shoulders and shuffling along to the next guy, or doing nothing. That’s precisely the problem all those marriage counselors above struggle with. They probably can’t throw a paper airplane in a shopping mall and not hit somebody who has horrible marriage.
But are any of those people paying attention?
They’re not gonna, either, until someone hits them where they live. And a string of letters behind the professional’s name, like LCSW or MS, ain’t gonna do a lick of good.
One of the most exciting benefits of a Breakthrough USP is that advertising media that used to not work for you, suddenly pulls like gangbusters. A lot of people can get affiliate offers to work, but can’t get Google ads to work. They get traction with Google ads but not banners. Banner ads work but solo emails bomb.
Relentless testing of Google ads and landing pages with a lame USP is just polishing turds. Most of the time it’s your USP that’s to blame. And it’s what I always start with. People come to 4-Man Intensives and sometimes they think I’m going to wave a magic wand over their Google account and make everything perfect.
Well sometimes I can do that, but when I do that it’s not magic. The real magic is – after an hour or two of reverse-engineering their offering and their customers’ wants, needs and desires – we’ve completely repositioned the entire product to be immensely more appealing.
Richard Jacobs is a consultant who generates leads for attorneys, in some of the most expensive keyword categories on the internet. When he came to 4-Man, he complained that a lot of his clients treated him badly – even though he was putting money in their pockets.
I showed him that by repositioning (1) his basic product offering in order to sell results instead selling procedures, and (2) increasing his visibility in the marketplace, he could exponentially transform his experience as a consultant.
That, combined with a twist that he told me about on a past Renaissance Club CD, completely shifted his entire experience as a consultant.
Suddenly it’s impossible to compare him to any other lead generator, any online advertising opportunity, any sales rep, because he is utterly singular and unique. Best of all, the complete combination is very hard to knock off and systematize the way he has.
His income spiked and he literally moved almost 100 clients to the back burner. He’s not fighting the current anymore.
WHY A GREAT USP IS HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS
Everybody who allegedly knows anything about marketing is supposed to know what USP is and have a good one. My experience is: Most people’s USP is little more than a slogan and most do not have a good one. Most are mediocre at best and this is sad because this costs you a LOT of money. It’s the difference between eating steak and eating Ramen soup, between being #1 or #5, between owning a 2nd home in Tucson vs. struggling to pay your mortgage.
Yet I see thousands of sharp, capable, dedicated business owners limping along with inadequate USPs. Even the above-average USP is like a dull razor blade – it leaves stubble behind, and nicks and cuts as well.
A while back, unbeknownst to me, Bryan Todd decided to do something about this. He sat down and, based on his conversations with hundreds of clients who’d scheduled 1-on-1 consultations and taken the Bobsled Run coaching program for AdWords, created an entire system for building Breakthrough USPs.
This “accidentally” came up in a Roundtable meeting. Aussie Roundtable member, Brad Walker was having his hot seat when Bryan put his finger on a lack of clarity in one of Brad’s product offerings.
Bryan opened his computer, found some notes and began grilling Brad. One step at a time, he led Brad through an entire sequence of questions, insisting that Brad arrive at an answer before he took the next step.
After about 30 minutes, Brad said, “I can go up to my hotel room and write this up, and the sales page will practically write itself!”
BINGO. Precisely. That’s what happens. A dull tip had been filed to a sharp point and suddenly it made impact on everything it touched.
That’s what happens, my friend.
Matt Gillogly was there, and said, “We’ve GOT to offer this. This is just too good!”
So that’s what we’re doing. Here’s the plan:
We’re offering recordings of two in-depth webinars. During those recordings we will walk you through an exquisitely elegant system for building killer USPs, unearthing the hidden story behind your product, behind your customers’ aches, pains and aspirations.