The ‘Blink’ Approach To Online Sales

Does your sales letter or video pass the ‘Blink’ test?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s thought-provoking book, he puts forward the idea that our best decisions are made instantly.

And you better believe when prospects visit your webpage you have SECONDS (often less) to make an impression — good or bad.

Your graphics, sales copy, video opener, even your domain name all contribute towards that crucial first impression.

Bundle those in with any preconceived ideas your prospects may have about you or your product… plus the competition of 8 other tabs open on their browsers…

… and you’ll see why sales can be lost in the blink of an eye!

First impressions count.  And nowhere more so than online where dozens of distractions vie for our attention 24 hours a day.

A Different Way to Think About Your Prospect — Which Might Just Increase Your Sales Dramatically (Like it Did for Me)

The most important step of writing great copy comes way before the first word is written.

That step is your research. Getting clear on:

  • Your prospect: how can you sell her if you don’t know who she is and how she thinks?
  • Your product: how can you sell it if you don’t know how it changes her life?
  • And your market: If you don’t know why your offer is unique, how will you rise above the clutter of your competition so your prospect buys from you RIGHT NOW?

For this short post, I’m going to focus on your prospect and how a simple tweak to your thought process can change your results dramatically. Then I’m going to share a personal example of how this tweak took my business to new incredible heights.

The Two Personas of Your Customer

Step 1: Is

This tweak is a two step process. First, you need to get clear on who your prospect is. This is the common strategy you read in most copywriting books (we’ll take it 1 step further). You need to know:

  • The Big Three: Her top fears, biggest frustrations, and deepest desires
  • Her demographics: her appearance, family life, occupation, and everything else relevant to forming a complete image of her in your mind
  • Her emotional hot buttons you can ramp up her desires to achieve salvation (and buy)
  • And the language and tone she uses to talk about her problem

The end goal for thinking over these points is to get explicitly clear on exactly who your prospect is… so you know exactly what to say (and how to say it) to exercise complete persuasive control over her.

Many successful business are built on this step alone. Because so many marketers skimp their research, taking this seriously will give you massive advantages over your competitors.

But don’t stop there. Not if you really want to take your sales to the next level…

Step 2: Wants to Be

Because your prospect has a second persona, one that she protects and likely only exists in her mind… and that’s who she aspires to be.

Your prospect isn’t going to buy your product to keep life as it is. No matter what you’re offering, she’s going to buy it to take her life to the next level of ease, joy, or prosperity.

Dudes buy sports cars to become James Bond. Moms buy cook books to become Martha Stewart or dinner party aficionados. You buy marketing products to become the Top Gun in your niche. I bought spinning class membership to become Lance Armstrong.

This aspirational persona is where you can exercise terrifying amounts of persuasion, because it shows you her end goal. It’s much, much deeper than this outer level of who she is.

For example, ask your friends about their life’s current state. A lot of times, their eyes glaze over as they recount what’s happening. But, talk to them about what they WANT to do, and notice the change. There’s much more buzz, hope, and energy. This is the emotional level you will tap by communicating to your prospect on her aspirational level.

Once you know where she wants to go, you know where you need to take her. All you must do then is show how your product takes her there.

So once you’ve completed Step 1 and know who your product is, you can move to step 2 to learn who she wants to be. Here’s how:

First, pull out your prospect research notes and read them slowly. Allow this persona to overtake and envelope your mind. Completely assume her identity, so you feel the same hopes, dreams, and fears as she does.

Now, in the mindset of your prospect, imagine where she wants to go. How does she want to feel? Focus your thinking on the kinds of values and experiences she desires. What does she dream her life looking like?

With this understanding, you can now reflect these desires back at her. Show her how you are already living the life of her dreams.

What type of environment does she want to exist in? Does she imagine life on the beach? In an immaculate house? Out at the bar surrounded by attractive friends? Film your videos in that environment.

  • How does she want to be spoken to? Direct and aggressive? Calm and collected? Use that language and tone.
  • What kind of experiences does she wish she was having? Show her you’re already having them.
  • What lifestyle does she imagine? Show her how you’re living it.
  • And show her how your product helped you get there… and can help her get there, too.

By speaking to and reflecting these desired feelings, values, and experiences back at her, you’re validating them. You’ll connect with her on a far deeper, emotional, and identity level than any of your competitors…

  • You’re more likeable and more interesting to follow… so you keep her attention easier. She’ll read not only more of your messages, but larger portions of each message, too.
  • You’re easier to trust because she sees her own identity reflected in you… so you face far less skepticism in anything you say.
  • And you’re much easier to buy from because you represent the exact person she wants to become… so you experience far more (and far easier) sales growth.

The results come almost like magic, but it’s not magical at all. It’s a simple process of learning your prospect’s desired emotional destination, and showing how you can get her there.

An Illustrative (and Real) Story to Finish up

In August 2007 I launched my first product, a niche hookah pipe designed for the travel and party lifestyle.

We knew we had a great product (based on real feedback)… we knew exactly who would benefit from it… and we even bucked industry trend by adding a guarantee to make our offer unique.

I approached the release with high hopes.

And they were all dashed. Every single hope, crushed. Nary a sale came in that day.

Fast forward to our 2nd hookah model release in December 2009.

By this time, we know much more about WHY our customers were buying and the hopes this product embodied for them. We knew the experiences and lifestyle our prospect wished to achieve.

So in that sales letter, I reflected all these dreams back at my prospect. I showed her how this simple device made me the center of countless parties and social events, and how owning it brought me countless crazy travel adventures… the exact experiences she wanted for herself.

In essence, I showed her how owning this product let me live the life she dreamed about.

And that launch sold out in less than 14 hours, converting a massive 18% of our entire email list… and the product continues to bring reliable, steady sales to this day.

The copy isn’t extraordinary. No elaborate launch sequence. No affiliates, crazy pop ups, or up/down/cross sells.

Just a simple offer that showed why this new hookah was key to getting her where she wanted to go. I took the time to get clear on my prospect’s aspirations, and then validated and spoke to her on that level.

If you follow this simple 2-step process, chances are the same extraordinary results will happen to you, too.

Mike Williams is an entrepreneur and former freelance copywriter in Jersey City, New Jersey who runs an online hookah store and teaches an online copywriting course.