#125: Sean D’Souza on Why You Should Write Sales Pages and Articles from the Bottom Up

Writing sales pages, landing pages, long-form content or detailed articles is not easy.

Getting started can be a drag. Writer’s block is often a problem. And even when you get going, it’s difficult to get and maintain momentum.

But what if you started writing the piece from the bottom up? What if that bottom-up method helped you create a quicker and far superior product?

In this episode, New Zealand-based marketing and persuasion expert Sean D’Souza explains his bottom-up method of writing… and why it’s more effective than the traditional top-to-bottom approach many of us use.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Sean D’Souza is the creator of Psychotactics, a marketing company in New Zealand with a focus on teaching people why customers buy and why they don’t. He’s also the author of The Brain Audit, which explains the psychology behind our buying decisions.

Sean is also host of the Three-Month Vacation podcast.

What’s one of the most counter-intuitive aspects of human psychology?

Surprisingly, people will choose a higher priced premium option over a lower priced option if you give them the right information. Variables you think will impact this choice actually don’t matter.

This rule applies regardless of whether the premium option is $5 or $500 more than the lower priced option.

But you have to get the elements right. Otherwise, people will pick the cheaper option.

Why does this rule work? Because when people are ready to buy, they’ve already bought in their head. And at that point, their decision hinges on the bonus.

Example: You’re given a choice between a computer or a computer with a box of chocolates. You pick the computer with the box of chocolates.

If someone takes away the box of chocolates, you get upset. You want that box of chocolates! But you didn’t set out to buy a box of chocolates—you set out to buy a computer. The computer is worth $3000 and the chocolates are worth $10. So why is the box of chocolates so important?

That’s the magic of a bonus.

Tell us about your approach to writing a sales page

A sales page consists of several elements:

  • Headline
  • Sub headline
  • Main problem
  • Consequences of not dealing with problem
  • Solution
  • Benefits
  • Features
  • Bullets

The most intimidating element to write is the headline. Therefore, it’s better to start at the bottom, with the bullets.

Tell us how you write the bullets

Sean starts by writing 60 features. No benefits. Just features.

He can do this in about 20-30 minutes.

Then, he lists the benefits of each feature. And this takes him about 30-60 minutes.

After, he turns the features and benefits into bullets by putting “how” or “why” in front of them.

E.g. “How the microphone’s ABC can help you do XYZ.”

In addition, you want to create curiosity. You can do this by adding “without,” “and,” or “even.”

E.g. “How to get to New Zealand without breaking the bank”

E.g. “How to get to New Zealand and see Australia in the same trip.”

Once you have 60 of these, you’re good.

After only a few hours (spread across the week), you have a solid base on which to build your sales letter.

How do you choose the bonus?

You can pick one bullet at random and use it as a bonus. But you have to explain why the bonus is important. Dress it up. “These chocolates were handmade, etc.”

Next, choose a few of the most powerful bullets and flesh them out into paragraphs. (If you have 60 bullets, for example, flesh out six of them.)

How do you decide on uniqueness?

Again, look at the bullets. You can choose anyone of them. But whatever you choose, make the results very clear.

E.g. “In 12 weeks, you will write a magazine quality article in less than 90 minutes.”

E.g. “In eight weeks, you will write eight different headlines on the same topic in under 10 minutes. And every one of them will be a winner.”

Content isn’t king. People don’t want more content. They want results.

How do you write the headline?

Don’t ever write the headline yourself. Instead, call up a client and interview them.

Don’t base the headline on a persona or what you think the client wants. Base it on what the client says they want.

For example, say my mom wants a birthday present. I don’t imagine what all moms would want and then buy that. I talk to my mom and ask her what she wants!

When you talk to your client, they will give you the headline. They will tell you the main problem and its consequences. You just have to ask them the right questions.

Also, you have to pick a client who’s desperate for the service and is willing to pay for it.

What questions should we ask?

Sean’s brain audit book details what questions to ask.

When people hesitate, they don’t buy. And they hesitate because you haven’t presented them with all the information (in the right order) that they need to make a decision.

Following Sean’s questions helps you get the information out of the client.

Record and transcribe exactly what the client says. If they say, “I feel like a prison in my own site,” then use that. Don’t change it to, “I feel trapped in my own site.”

When people talk, they have emotion. When you “translate” it, you kill the emotion.

What if we get different pain points from different customers?

Choose one. You’re only going after Jane (for example). You’re trying to attract all the Janes on the planet. That’s it. You’re not trying to get Maria. Jane’s problem is very specific. That’s what you put on your sales page.

If it’s really important that you go after all the Marias on the planet too, you need to create a separate sales page for Maria.

But your job is to get all the Janes. There are enough Janes in the world—you don’t have to go after anyone else.

Maria may look at it. She may even buy it. But you’re writing for Jane.

You have to sacrifice. You should only go after one thing, not three things.

As a copywriter, when you cater to everyone, you serve no one.

(For tips on writing other types of content, see our posts on white papers, lead magnets, articles and business books.)

Where can listeners learn more about you?

Sean’s book: The Brain Audit.

Sean’s website: Psychotactics.com