Are we being manipulated?

My parents used to love going to those free timeshare presentations.

The reason is simple: FREE FOOD!

These things are hilarious. They invite people to come hear their 60-minute pitch, and whether or not you buy, you get some kind of gift — things like free buffet tickets or a free 2-night stay in a Vegas hotel.

Just think of the kind of people they attract with these gifts. But also, think of how good they are at selling, if they can afford to lose money on 90%+ of people who come.

The funniest thing was when they promised my parents a grandfather clock. My dad was so excited, he drove 2 hours to attend the presentation. When he left (not buying, of course), they gave him a grandfather clock…that was 14 inches tall. Hahahaha

These presentations are also funny because of how much they terrify people. I’ve literally seen friends refuse to go because “I don’t want to buy one of those timeshares.” When I said, “uh dude, you don’t have to buy,” they looked at me with frightened eyes. They were AFRAID of their inability to say no.

And that, my friends, is fascinating.

When you get the chance to go face-to-face with an extremely talented salesperson, you take it! What do they know about human nature? How do they build rapport?

Instead of running away from salespeople, advertisements, and marketers, you can learn so much by running towards them and learning everything they know. Just let your Surrogate Asian Father’s voice echo in your head: “Don’t be a dumbass and buy a timeshare today.”

There’s another reason I love studying marketing: I actually love being sold on real products that are going to make my life better!

A few years ago I came across a product called The Truth About Abs. It has the same characteristics as a lot of ebooks — long copy, bold claims — but I started reading. Eventually, I decided to buy. Guess what? The original product was around $50, but by the time I finished going through the checkout process, I had added so many upsells that the total was around $119. And I felt good about my purchase.

Truth about abs book
I bought this. Good product.

If your immediate reaction is “That looks scammy,” then you are missing the point of great marketing. I’m not stupid. Why did I buy something that looks like that when I’m very well-versed in marketing?

The marketing worked, I bought, and I felt great about it. No buyer’s remorse.

That’s selling.

So what can we learn from these examples?

If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, you have to know what they want — their hopes, fears, and dreams.

If “The Truth About Abs” had been called “46 exercises to strengthen your core, but really your total body, because you can’t burn fat from just one area,” I probably wouldn’t have bought. They knew what I wanted and their copy reflected that.

The second takeaway: if your product can genuinely help someone, you’re doing them a service by selling to them. You don’t have to be obnoxious. You can sell by being honest and straightforward.

Here, let’s take a look at some examples of how easy it can be.

EXAMPLE 1: How a brick and mortar store could easily get more clients.

EXAMPLE 2: How we generated an extra 2,080 subscribers/year by tweaking a few words.


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Example #1: Add a few words, make $6,750 more

I’ve walked by this building called “pure barre” dozens of times. I had no idea what it was and I didn’t care. Until I heard some friends talking about it one day. Turns out it’s a ballet-based fitness program that offers incredible, low-impact workouts.

But look at their sign:

pure barre
How would you attract customers to this business?

Do you see the problem here? Just looking at it, I couldn’t tell you for sure how to pronounce the name, much less what they do inside.

But if you’re a woman looking for a fun, new workout you’d want to know. You’d want them to grab your attention and get you to try their services.

Let’s assume the business could get more customers by changing their copy just a little. In fact, let’s run the numbers. What if you could get:

Number of new walk-ins per day: 10

Number of walk-ins who buy a membership: 1/10

Revenue per membership: $225/month

Additional revenue after one month: $6,750

An additional $6,000+ in one month! You can debate me on the numbers, but you get the point. It adds up quickly.

Here, let me show you how easy it can be. These Photoshop examples are a good reminder of why I hire professional designers instead of doing it myself.

pure barre fitness for women
Now people know what this damn thing is

Boom! Now women walking by have a reason to check it out. And guys like me can keep walking.

Could we do more here? What if we had a picture in one of those big windows of the people actually doing the workout? Or offered a benefit their target audience wanted. For instance:

highlighting benefits
Boost sales by highlighting benefits

Selling isn’t about manipulation. Sometimes it’s is as simple as showing people how you can help them. It is a win-win. You get customers, they get a problem solved.

Example #2: A simple tweak generates 2,080 subscribers/year

At IWT, the #1 thing we have to capture people’s attention and turn them into customers is the writing — “copywriting” — on our site. That’s why we’re constantly tweaking it and testing it to make it as good as it can be.

Here’s a test we ran on our opt-in copy. We made two slightly different offers to see which would lead to more people subscribing to our email list. Can you guess which won out?

Opt-in copy #1

A test

Opt-in copy #2

b test
A test we ran with our opt-in copy

The second version got 27.6% more opt-ins. That’s an additional 40 subscribers every week.

That’s 2,080 extra subscribers a year. If just 1 in 100 goes on to purchase Earn1K or Zero to Launch, this test alone would bring in an extra $40,000+ in revenue every year.

Simple. Straightforward. And we deliver on our promises. That’s marketing.

Your turn

Let’s pretend you’re the General Manager of that Barre class.

If you were in charge, what would you do to capture the attention of people passing by? What writing would you put on the storefront to get your message out there?

Bonus points to anyone who can include some math in your assumptions and show me how much revenue it would generate.

Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. I hope you guys are enjoying this. Personally, I find it fascinating how businesses persuade us (and how we influence each other). Tomorrow, I’ll go deeper into this. Talk to you then.

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