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Your Barrier To Entry

barrier to entryWhat I've seen over the years here is people learn of an idea: the magic bullet (of the week). They put it into action ONCE and it doesn't work (for whatever reason...poor quality traffic; insufficient traffic--key issue, that one; lousy conversion tool; insufficient followup; poor target market definition; etc.)

And then they announce, "It DIDN'T WORK!!" to the world.

They really have convinced themselves that because they tried this thing one time, one way (imagine, trying only a single headline and then saying the whole project was a failure) it doesn't work. Ever. For anyone.

Then they jump on after the next shiny object...the new magic bullet of the week.

That's the silliness I'm fighting against here. It's rampant.

Many variables are involved in online marketing. Basic math is required to be good at online marketing. Based on the evidence I've seen, people want to remain ignorant of both and yet still be successful.

People: that ain't gonna happen.

Stick with something longer than three days. Test one variable change at a time. Yes, keep your eyes open for what works and what doesn't, and why.

Imagine there's a fence you have to jump.

That's the fence you need to get over to start making sales and being successful (BTW, did anyone ever tell you Making Sales is the RESULT, not the guts of, internet marketing? Kinda changes your perspective...there are all these things that need to be done and go right BEFORE you make a sale).

Now imagine all the wannapreneurs, here they are, running full tilt at that fence. Some of them don't even know the fence is there. Many underestimate how tall it is. But there they are, full of false and highly temporary enthusiasm based on some magic bullet they heard about and have awkwardly (how else are you gonna do it the first time) put into practice.

And WHAMMY!

Sure are a lot of broken bodies fallen at the foot of and atop that fence.

What Barrier To Entry Means For You

This is called, in professional marketing terminology, Barrier To Entry.

Most people lack the perspective, the stick-to-itiveness to pass that Barrier To Entry.

What does this mean for you, the individual?

Don't be like the herd. The herd is all beat up and broken in front of that fence.

If you can behave differently, and get over that fence, you'll be Inside.

And Inside is where the money is.

Once you figure it out...how to get over that fence, that Barrier To Entry...you keep that knowledge forever. You know what the process is.

Oh sure, some little techie this or that may change. A variable may need a dial or level adjustment. But you know what the variables are.

Stick with it. Measure and manage. Be intelligent.

Blindly and mindlessly following magic bullets is stupid. You'll end up crashed on the fence every time. Even if you do "succeed" you'll have no idea how to duplicate what you just did.

Barrier To Entry Today

This post was first published in 2016. Is there an update for 2021 / 2022?

My impression is that this concept is part of human nature. It is unchanging. We all know "the information is out there", often free of charge. Yet few people will knuckle down and do the research, personal learning and testing necessary to develop skill. They randomly try something once, and when it doesn't work everything related to it is a "scam".

Remember that this is a hurdle separating the wheat from the chaff, the successful from the wannapreneur. Those who expect success from magic beans, rather than developing skill through persistence, are welcome to their fate.

>> For business strategy that gets you past the barrier to entry, get the Sales On Fire program. <<

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What’s Wrong With Copywriting?

I've been studying copywriting and writing for clients for 25 years. In that time, I've seen some bad things I want to share with you...and I've evolved in my point of view about the subject. You should see that evolution in thinking, too. It'll save you a lot of frustration and probably some money.

The Main Thing Wrong With Copywriting

The main problem with copywriting is caused by two factors: the buyer and the seller. You ought to laugh because those are the key factors that cause problems in all poorly-accomplished sales, but I'm deadly serious here. Both parties come into the arrangement with utter misunderstandings of what's going to happen.

The buyer (usually a business owner or marketing manager) believes they are getting a magic bullet that will "get me more customers."

The seller (the writer) believes they are hot stuff and will "get you more customers."

That's where I was, from my start in 1995 through some time in 2012.

And I wasn't wrong. Not exactly. I mean, my copy is a heck of a lot better than what's typically on somebody's sales page or in their letter. So its performance is sure to be superior.

pieces of flair office space bare minimum what's wrong with copywriting

"What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?" Office Space, 1999: Fair Use

So Where's The Problem?

Just one problem: Traffic.

See, copy is about Conversion. That's the second piece of the money equation. And without Traffic, ie. eyeballs sent to view the conversion tool, the copy doesn't have much of a chance of accomplishing anything.

In the early days I would take on a job because somebody asked, I liked the topic, and they waved money in my direction. This is where most writers are at and what the market is used to.

On the buying side, the business owners and marketing managers are accustomed to this arrangement. "I need to get more customers," they say to themselves, and hire a writer. But they miss the fact that a good, steady, pre-qualified traffic source needs to be hooked up to that shiny new conversion tool...or there's no chance of success. And the writer, happy to be paid for their work, doesn't ask.

What Does This Misunderstanding Lead To?

This state of mutual mystification leads to what I call the "Throw The Copy Over The Wall And Run" approach to copywriting.

The buyer, believing copywriting is a commodity service, makes a low investment in the new conversion tool.

The seller, despite supposedly being an expert on positioning and persuasion, doesn't know what else to do when selling their services and accepts.

Can you read between the lines here and get a feel for the level of commitment to the project from both sides?

The buyer is expecting a magic return on a low investment: they're playing the lottery.

The seller has no motivation to stick around and work that project into something powerful: sure, they'll put their best effort into the draft they submit, but why should they continue to work on a project they haven't been paid much for?

Thus the writer does a little Q&A, some research, cranks out the copy in the fastest possible time, and throws it over the wall to the buyer.

"So long! Good luck!" comes their over-the-shoulder call as they run away in search of the next client.

And why shouldn't they?

What Needs To Change With Copywriting

The buyer hasn't made much of a commitment. As a result, neither has the seller. (I'm reminded of the quote from Office Space: "What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?" This applies to both parties.)

This right here is what's wrong with copywriting. Lack of commitment to a specific, measurable outcome.

I was conducting an audio interview of a fellow writer who was doing better than I was—he was getting into better business arrangements than I was, and works in niches I don't touch, too; maybe I should learn from that heh heh—some years back when I heard him say something that confirmed a concept that I'd understood for awhile but hadn't clearly articulated:

The buyer must demonstrate commitment to solving the problem and getting to a specific outcome.

In doing so, a good writer will recognize this commitment, and match it with their own effort.

In plain terms, what I already knew was that the first effort of a writer is likely to either fail or not be the best achievable result. That if the writer could stick around for just one, two, or three more iterations of the copy, the performance could be increased dramatically.

But What's Really Happening With Copywriting?

But what was happening? In reality, you know what has been going on. The buyer tries to hire for the lowest possible price; the seller, having little commitment, gives their best effort within the short period they can afford to give the project their attention, then moves on.

Over the wall and run.

Both get ONE chance to get it right.

And, if you've been reading carefully, you'll have noticed neither understands the nature of the money equation. That you need both Traffic AND Conversion to make it work. Writing alone doesn't accomplish anything.

The buyer believes that new copy alone will do the job.

The seller has tunnel vision and the cocksure belief that their copy is a moneymaker.

But where is the traffic?

Whether You're Hiring or Writing, Start Asking This Question

This is why my first question to prospective clients is: "Do you have a solid pre-qualified traffic source ready to go?"

If the answer is "Uh, I haven't thought about that..." or "My Facebook ads guy will figure that out," or "I'll be hiring a launch manager and they'll do that," it's an instant No from me.

I will not risk my reputation on an unproven idea.

I will not risk my reputation on a project without a good traffic source.

I will not risk my reputation on a client who can't afford traffic.

These issues appear frequently. Too frequently.

The business owner gets frustrated. I'm sure they go hire some low-priced writer after I tell them No, and are happy with the copy they get. After all, it's like having a template writer redo your resume: you get that "new car smell" for awhile. But not long after, when you don't have any traffic and nobody sees the thing, you discover it isn't worth very much.

The Dumb Arrangement That Makes Buyers and Writers Mad At Each Other

Buyers will get mad at writers at this point. And the writers may respond by getting mad back at them. But the outcome of the copy is not the writer's doing. Both bear responsibility for getting into a dumb arrangement: frankly, the copy didn't get enough views to determine whether it's any good or not.

What buyers and sellers need to do in the world of copywriting is to commit to a longer term relationship. Longer than the first draft the writer throws over the wall.

I have seen so many newbies over the years set up a funnel, put all the pieces in place, and then be shocked when something doesn't work.
The funnel breaks at every turn! The ads don't convert and you have to fix them. Then the opt-in page doesn't work well and you have to fix that. Then the email sequence doesn't persuade the readers to visit the sales page. You have to fix those. Then the sales page doesn't turn visitors into buyers...and you have to fix that.

The funnel falls down at every stage. Success requires both the buyer and the seller to stick around: for the business owner and the writer to commit to an outcome. Agree at the start what the statistics will be for a successful result, and commit getting there. This means the buyer has to invest in the seller so that the seller can invest in the iterative work.

The Change That Needs To Be Made In Copywriting

The writer can no longer throw the copy over the wall and run. They have to stick around. And the owner has to make it worth their while.

As a writer, this is the very reason you must get out of the scrape-and-chase mode. If you're always on the hunt for the next low budget client because you have to survive, you can never make this kind of commitment (buyers, are you paying attention?).

Up front fees are not the only solution. Royalties or a percentage of gross are other options—but, business owners, the writer has to TRUST YOU. Work on that.

This is what's wrong with copywriting. A basic misunderstanding of the nature of the work, what outcome will result, and what is required to succeed.

Needed and typically missing: a pre-qualified traffic source with sufficient quantity to reach the revenue goal.

Needed and typically missing: commitment by both sides to adjustment of the process until the goal is reached.

Let's get rid of the "Throw the copy over the wall and run" approach and fix what's wrong with copywriting. Please. Writers, will you commit to ensuring both factors above that have been missing are present in projects going forward? Those hiring writers, will you commit to the straightforward changes to hiring and making use of copywriters so that we can all work together on making the money you desire?

Update To The Original 2017 Post

In the five years since this post was first written my perception is that things have gotten better for those with experience, and worse for the newbies.

Experienced product creators and writers who have been the online marketing field for this period have in general figured out what's wrong with copywriting. Most know they need to proceed with a commitment to targeted results. The days of "shoot your shot, copywriter, and let's hope for the best" are gone for them.

But those lacking experience seem to be in an even worse position than newbies of a half-decade ago. The marketplace is much more crowded as internet marketing has moved from a weird thing a relatively small number of people engage in to a more mainstream, heavily marketed "make money online" opportunity. As more writers and more product creators move into the marketplace, both lack discernment and do not look for or learn the lessons of the past. As a reality check I recommend you share this post with those you know.

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist and copywriter. Book a call with Jason to discuss your project. <<

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How To Find Pain Points

[Original 2014 Article:] How to find pain points is one of the basic sales questions we need to answer. We know what they are, and we know they are not features or benefits. But how do we get them?

The great thing about how to find pain points is that they are not difficult to find. We merely have to uncover them. Yes, they really are out there, like a good-for-you vegetable resting just under the surface.

Pain points are specific to their niche. Similarities and crossovers may exist from one niche to another, but terminology will change. Remain aware of this. You cannot simply carbon copy a pain point over to a new niche.

It's as simple as this: prospects will tell you the pain points. However, it takes time.

How To Find Pain Points the Easy Way

You have to be willing to begin badly. Realize that your first several days--probably the initial week if you're dialing an hour a day, and perhaps even two--will be purely for discovering pain points. Want faster results? Make more dials. This is the barrier of effectiveness: most people give up after a couple hours of calling. But the payoff if you commit is tremendous.

When you start, you'll begin with a "good enough" script. Your best guess for what may work. Pick a niche and stick with it. Some prospects won't want to talk, and that's fine; there are always people who don't want to or aren't able to talk. We know this from our industry standard stats:

- half the people you call won't be available

- half of the people who pick up the phone can't actually talk right now.

But of those who do pick up and can talk, some of them will want to help you with how to find pain points. Some people are just plain helpful. Others want to puff out their chests and be the expert. Either one is good for you.

You won't have to fight. Keep your ears open. Listen to what prospects are telling you. Eventually you're going to realize you've heard what this prospect just said before. Write that phrase down. Write it down exactly the way they said it. Notice the terminology. And over the next few days, you'll hear that same thing again and again. When you are told the same thing by three or more decision makers in that industry, you have the makings of a pain point.

"I'm sick and tired of metal fabrication subcontractors promising to meet our delivery dates to get the order, and then failing to do so. That screws up all the inspections and the schedule of all the trades that follow them in."

"Yeah, we gave a few jobs to a fab shop and their work is good, but they keep missing delivery dates. That really causes me a lot of trouble. I get penalized by the developer. The city inspectors and finishing carpeters hate my guts."

"I might consider trying you, but there's a question I have: can you deliver when you say you will?"

This is an example of a series of things you might here--and I did hear--when prospecting for a metal fabrication shop. You can see the common thread. You can also pick out some of the specific industry terms. The pain point is right there.

The No-Risk Way of How To Find Pain Points

Here is a way to uncover pain points without disturbing your target market:

Call the same niche, but in a different geographic area.

Yes, you may miss something that's different about your local area, but you'll get enough to start having good conversations.

Once you get the decision maker on the line, ask: "I'm not sure if you can help me, but I'm trying to find out about the experience (their niche) has had with (your type of company). Have you worked with one?"

Eg. "I'm trying to find out about the experience building contractors have had with metal fab shops. Have you worked with one?"

If they have a story to share, they will.

Then ask them what the worst experience they've had with one was. And then the best.

Yes, the best. Good experiences can be turned around into pain points. Just reverse the situation...if you can actually accomplish the end result.

An Example of How To Find Pain Points

I had a client in Florida who worked all day. He got out of the office at 5PM local time. Obviously we couldn't call locally, so we picked roofers in Colorado. Within a dozen dials, he had the marketing manager of a medium-sized roofing company on the line. Just out of niceness, she spent twenty minutes sharing with him the specifics of the roofing industry in Colorado. I pulled six pain points out of that conversation. It was easy. Now we had our way of starting great conversations with prospects.

Now this may sound simple. And it is. But when making sales calls, most people are concerned with what they are going to say rather than listening to what the other person is saying. I am asking you to keep listening in mind. What is the prospect actually saying?

The information is out there. You simply have to be willing to put in the time and effort, which is not massive and yet has a huge payoff, to uncover it.

2021 Update on How To Find Pain Points

If you want to find out what's really going on in your prospective customer's world, you still can in a world now used to remote meetings. All you need is for that prospect to have a good reason to talk with you. In a previous situation, we found that people who wanted further information on a financial product they had been educated about were more than willing to provide details about their investment and debt history. This was information they wouldn't feel comfortable sharing with their own mother—but in the right situation, they would happily share such details on a phone call within fewer than five minutes with an expert they were meeting for the very first time.

Consider: what do they want to get out of speaking with you? Make it about them and not you...and then you'll be able to get answers to whatever questions you wish.

>> Want more expertise like this on your side? Sign up for the free SALES ON FIRE video training series! <<