Advanced Web Copywriting Secret #1 – The Riveting Review

What do you do when what you’re trying to sell from your website isn’t selling? You’ve written what you think is great sales copy, you’re all excited…but when you post it online and start getting visitors…NOTHING. They ain’t buyin’ it!

This article will shed some light on a high-powered web content secret that will have you selling like crazy…just like the most successful online marketers.

So how do you go from no sales to plenty of sales with just a bunch of words?

ANSWER: Write a Review…

If you’ve been in e-commerce for any length of time, you probably know that when most people want to buy something, they will go to a search engine and type in “NAME OF PRODUCT + review” to find out if the product is worth buying or not.

And it makes sense, doesn’t it? An online sales letter or product description is just a self-serving pitch. But a third person review has a lot more credibility and honesty.

That’s been my experience: I’ve bought a ton of stuff online after reading a decent review. I’d head to the seller’s sales or landing page and think, “Ugh. This is awful!” And yet, despite of a crappy sales page, I would buy the product just based on the third-party review.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to create a selling review. Get it right, and you’ll make a mint. Get it wrong, and you’ll be laughed off the Internet (and not make a penny).

Although there are so many different ways to put together a review, I’ve found the following structure to be incredibly persuasive.

The Structure of a Selling Review:

1. What was the problem that caused you to search?

Give a brief story of what caused you (or someone else) to look for a solution. What pain were you in?

2. How did you come across the product?

This could be through a search engine, a blog post, a recommendation on a forum, even thumbing through a magazine at the dentist’s office.

3. What are the problems that are typical for this TYPE of product?

Why haven’t other solutions turn out not to be solutions? What do people usually complain about in this category of products?

4. Now introduce the product. What is its name? What are the main promises of the product? What are some of its features and benefits? How would you describe it?

You might want to create a list of these before you start writing and then reference it as you write your review.

5. What is the downside to this product?

Nothing is perfect. And a review that sounds to good to be true, doesn’t sell crap. You’ll be gaining trust and credibility if you tell the readers about some minor imperfections or what it can’t do.

6. How are you going to wrap up the review?

Here you will state the main promises and how the product will help you reach them (or has helped you reach them). This is where you also make your recommendation and include a link to the sales page.

Should you create a review for your own product? I wouldn’t. Besides being unethical (like homemade testimonials), it has a good chance of sounding stilted or contrived. It would be far better to get some friends (or a professional copywriter) to try out your product. Hand them the above questions and let them come up with something that is honest and interesting (and you could always tweak it a bit to make it flow better).

How you use the review depends on your situation. It could be placed on a blog. It can have its own web page. It can be placed on a website that is specifically designed for product reviews.

BONUS TIP: You can get some practice with writing reviews AND make some money at the same time. How? By creating reviews for products that you have liked and becoming an affiliate for that product.

If you don’t have any reviews of your products, you will face an uphill battle of trying to make decent money. On the other hand, get a good review up and online and you’ll have a steady stream of customers for years to come!

David Ogilvy’s ‘How to Create Advertising That Sells’ Review Part 4

How to Create Advertising that Sells Review Part 4

Best for Last...

Here’s final article covering David Ogilvy’s How to Create Advertising That Sells Review Part 4. We’ll take a look at Rules 28 through 38. Ogilvy said, “It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising has a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.” Pay close attention to these next 11 rules. The simplicity is profound. The pay-off is enormous!

Maxim 28: Keep it Simple Stupid

Don’t make consumers figure out the meaning. Keep it simple enough to immediately understand. Simple keeps them moving toward the goal..

Maxim 29: Length

Ogilvy’s research goes against much of today’s ad “proof.” He said effective headlines use 10 or more words. He said 8 to 10 is ideal. The view will remember longer and clearer with this length. He showed that longer headlines sell MORE than shorter headlines!

Maxim 30: Local Ads

Ogilvy also said to use LOCAL headlines when possible. Ads are more successful with the mention of a city.

Maxim 31: Focused Targeting

If a product or service is normally used by a specific group, then state that group in the headline. If it’s a product purchased by fishermen, then it pays to mention them in the headline.

Maxim 32: “The More You Tell… “

Ogilvy said, “The More You Tell, The More You Sell.” Decades of research and millions of dollars-worth of successful ads prove it. Readership drops very little in copy that is 50 and 500 words. There’s no difference. He said, “People read long copy,” contrary to what industry leaders today state. Creating advertising that sells isn’t restricted to brevity!

Maxim 33: Pictures Tell A Story

Ogilvy said this one is harder than it looks but gives a big payoff. Our world is visual. When viewers see the “magic” of story-appeal, they ask, “What’s going on here?” The story element raises curiosity. It causes the viewer to stop and ask. Whenever possible, use photos to tell a story.

Maxim 34: Visual Contrast

Demonstrating a ‘before and after‘ with the service or product is a bonus. It grabs the attention & holds it longer than average, according to Ogilvy. Miley Cyrus is a ‘before and after.’ It’s not even about liking her because many don’t. Miley Cyrus grabs both + and – attention. American’s viewing this picture automatically knows what a transformation this “product” has made. She captures the attention of viewers, as ridiculous as her methods.

Maxim 35: Photographs

Chose pics over drawings. Why? Photos attract more readers than drawings. They “generate more appetite appeal.” Pics are more believable. Consumers remember pics far better than a drawing. Lastly, they “pull” coupons more often & sell more products.

Maxim 36: Captions

Twice the number of viewers read captions beneath photographs than those reading copy. Ogilvy said to think of captions as mini-advertisements. Every caption should include the product brand name and a promise.

Maxim 37: Clean & Simple

If styles don’t effectively & clearly convey something with the viewer, then advertisers might as well pack their bag & leave. Editorial layouts translate better than “addy layouts.” Editorial layouts offer higher readership. Trends returning to that which works is happening… the editorial-style.

Maxim 38: Rinse and Repeat

Ogilvy said sometimes it takes advertising exposure to grow a winning campaign. Quitting too soon is costly. He said that readership actually goes up with 5 repetitions of ads. TV advertisements are shown over & over for this reason. Exposure creates a “sticking” in the mind. So, greatness doesn’t necessarily happen automatically. Normally, it happens with time.

Review in Summary

That completes part 4 of David Ogilvy’s How to Create Advertising that Sells Review. As promised, Ogilvy delivered some of the most impactful maxims for advertisers to live by. Remember: Keep headlines simple. Longer headlines sell! Go local. Call the targeted audience by name. “The more you tell, the more you sell.” Use photos which tell a story. Before & after pics sell better than average. Use photos rather than art or drawings. Captions are mini-ads so don’t overlook them. Use editorial styling. Repetition pays off.

How to Publish Your Book: Getting Those All-Important Reviews and Testimonials

Great reviews and testimonials help sell your book; therefore any actions you take to promote your book should include such reviews and testimonials. They can be gold. They help persuade book lovers that your book deserves a place on their shelves. They also help convince bookstore chains, individual bookstores, and libraries to stock your book.

Where do you start? The answer is as early as possible. Most reviewers want an actual copy of the book. An e-book won’t work, although that perception is changing. If reviewers can get an advance copy prior to publication, so much the better. Some reviewers will accept galleys but they expect to receive copies of the finished book later. For example, the School Library Journal will accept galleys. These must be received at least two months prior to the publication date. This gives the Journal time to review your book and print the review in their newsletter, either close to or shortly after publication date. You should be aware, however, that some reviewers do not accept self-published books.

There are several ways to let potential reviewers know about your upcoming book. The obvious one is a press release. As well, social media is playing an increasingly large role. If you have a blog, you can discuss your work and its availability. Better still, you can contact those bloggers with an interest in your book’s topic. They may be willing to write a review and post it on their blog. You could also have a fan page on Facebook. You would encourage your followers to write their own reviews to post on your fan page, and on their own pages.

You are also going to request reviews from newspapers and magazines, especially magazines that have a particular interest in your topic area. The odds of your getting a review in a national newspaper or magazine are pretty small. Getting a review from a local newspaper or magazine, as I’ve done, is more likely. Find out the name of the person to whom your request should go. If you have friends with contacts in the media, especially radio, TV and newspapers, ask them to help you.

Testimonials come from people who have read your book and found it to be of value. It could be a business book with advice on accounting, something technical, such as how to use digital cameras, or simply a piece of fiction that gave special insight to an issue or situation. Sometimes a delighted reader will send you a spontaneous response. More likely you’ll have to contact those with your book and ask for a testimonial. That happened with one of my business books. I first called them, then followed up with e-mail. Out of about 20 requests, five actually responded. This brings me to my final point.

People, though usually well meaning, can be notoriously slow in delivering a review or testimonial, even when they have agreed to do so. You have to be persistent. It may take several calls, multiple e-mails before you get a result. Or you may not hear at all. The problem is that the testimonial is never urgent to those you approach, only to you. And don’t offer an incentive to complete that testimonial. It can bring up issues of integrity. So be persistent. If one source won’t cooperate, keep going to others until you get what you need. Great reviews and testimonials add credibility to your sales efforts. You need them. They help sell books.

How And Where To Get Your Novel Reviewed

Sold your novel? Congratulations! Now it’s time to start promoting it.

One of the best ways to do this is by getting it reviewed in as many places as possible.
If you’ve sold to a print house, you probably have six to fifteen months to get ready for a big push to coincide with the book launch. Even though the publisher will promote the book, you have to do your part to boost sales.

Success doesn’t just happen. You need to get the word out about your book so people are eager to buy it as soon as it’s available. It takes time and effort to research and line up reviewers, and starting early will produce the best results.

Your publisher will send advanced reading copies to major reviewers, such as “Publishers Weekly”, “NY Times Book Review” and “Library Journal”, but also ask you for a list of possible review places they can contact. These include newspapers of towns and cities where you are known, fraternal or corporate magazines and any radio or television contact that concern books and authors. Requests for reviews from a publisher carry more weight with major reviewers than one from an author, so don’t be shy about passing on local contacts unless you know the reviewer personally or have an influential contact to the source.

On the other hand, if you have a personal connection, such as being a member of a group or an employee of a company producing the magazine, contacting them directly will get the review more easily.

Where to find reviewers

Your main source for promoting through reviews is the Internet.
Few print publishers take the time to research reviewers on the web, yet there are hundreds of them that review print and electronic books. Some specialize in a particular genre, others accept a broader range of stories. Some are theme oriented, others appeal to members of particular groups or occupations.

Also think beyond traditional reviewers. Magazines and ezines or websites for people in the same line of work as your protagonist may publish a review of special interest to their readers.

How to ask for the review

When working on the Web, the first step is to write a blurb about your novel to include in your query letter or with a submission. This blurb is similar to the copy you read on a book jacket. Its purpose is to convince the reviewer to read and review your book. The blurb must make the story sound interesting and exciting so the reviewer wants to read it.

Reviewers don’t review everything sent to them, so it’s up to you to make your novel sound worth their time. Write and polish your blurb so it hooks the reviewer.

The second step is if you are working from a list, visit the site to make sure it is valid. The Web can change in the blink of a mouse’s eye. While there, also check their guidelines for querying or submitting a book for review and follow those guidelines. Use the submission form if there is one. Include whatever is requested with the query, such as publisher’s name, price of book, publication date, contact information, etc. and submit the book in the specified manner and format. In most cases, your submission will be ignored if you don’t follow the guidelines.

And last but not least, be patient. Reviewers receive hundreds of requests. They take time to read books carefully and write thoughtful reviews. Most reviewers don’t reply if they don’t plan to review a book. If they accept yours, it may take several months to receive the review. This emphasizes the need to plan your reviews project early so reviews will come out close to launch date.

Once you have written your blurb and query, keep records of where, when and to whom you send queries or submissions. Also track the responses you receive. If you are not getting at least 20-25% positive responses, take a good hard look at your letter and blurb. Ask a few trusted friends to read them and give honest opinions. Rewrite to improve them! These are selling tools designed to sell reviewers on the idea of accepting your book to review. If the query and blurb aren’t doing the job, redo them until they get the results you need.

A good plan for sending out requests is to begin querying three to four months before launch date of the book. Send out two or three a week, depending on the size of the list of reviewers you compile. This not only makes the job easier, it helps assure a steady supply of new reviews.

Add a review page to your website and add reviews as they come in. I also recommend taking time to send a brief “thank-you” note to each reviewer for the review. You’ll be writing another novel and this courtesy will help you be remembered.

Other sources

Writers know other writers. Chances are you know one who would be happy to do a review of your novel. Independent reviews can be posted on your site or submitted to sites that accept them. Quite a few do. Make a list of them as you research sites on the web.

One of my diligent writer friends compiled a list of more than 200 sites and magazines (print and electronic) that review books. She averaged better than a 30% response rate to her query letters using it. In the true spirit of writers helping writers, she has given me permission to share the list with you. Use the link in my signature box below to request a free copy.

Whether this is your first or fifth published novel, you can’t have too many reviews. Start building your plan to get them today.

Copyright 2006

Easily Get Restaurant Reviews From Customers

These days, people don’t buy anything without reading reviews first. Amazon.com is the world’s favorite shopping mall. Visitors look for an item that is both heavily reviewed and has a mostly positive rating. There is suspicion of items that have no reviews, as that means to most folks that the business is probably new and the item they’re looking at is of questionable quality. Positive customer reviews weigh in big time within the consumer psyche and the convenience at which reviews can be posted means that every interaction with a customer is a potential opportunity to make or break many future sales. These ideas began with the retail industry, and they’ve spread like wildfire to restaurants.

So, should you ask for reviews or not? Let’s review the pros and cons:

PROS

Incentivizing is a great motivator for everything in the world. If you want reviews from your customers, offer them something of value. Asking for reviews isn’t bad as long as you’re not flat-out paying for them. Put something fun together: drop review submitters’ names into a monthly raffle for a free lunch, pick a top reviewer and send them to an exotic themed vacation (think Olive Garden sending families to Italy), have your top chef prepare dinner for a certain special patron. There are tons of ideas that involve a thematic approach to incentivized rewards versus just handing out cash. Get your patrons involved and excited and reap the benefits of a truly passionate reviewer!

If you choose to nudge patrons in the right direction, make it easy for them. Offering them a comment card is one way to go, and you can put that review up on your website, but how can you get the word out on UrbanSpoon or Yelp, two of the most popular restaurant review sites? You’ve got to tell customers where to submit their feedback. “Search for us on UrbanSpoon!” is a quick, easy and non-pushy way to let people know you’re active on that site. Make sure to develop a way to track your review-submitting patrons so that you can reward them. You’ll generally receive an email notification when a review is submitted to either one of those sites.

Posting restaurant reviews can be fun! Think about the power of mobile Smartphone applications: a patron can take a picture of your menu (or their meal plate) on their phone and post it online instantly, even while they’re still eating their Southwest Quesadilla Special. They can then immediately “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” your business based on their experience. This is incredibly helpful to other customers. PRO TIP: Consider taking clear pictures of your menu and your location and uploading them to review sites before someone else does. Doing so helps potential new customers decide if they want to eat at your establishment by taking the guesswork out of what you’ve got to offer. The more information that’s readily available about your business, the better.

CONS

The first question you need to ask yourself honestly is this: “Is my restaurant ready to be reviewed?” Many restaurant owners get antsy and jump the gun, so to speak, in taking steps to force reviews. They may have had a slow grand opening and think that getting “good press” on sites like UrbanSpoon and Yelp is the only way to stay operative. These sites are dynamite for influencing potential customers, but hard selling reviews is not the way to go. If your restaurant isn’t 100% where you want it to be at, incentivizing reviews could also mean reminding people that they can post negative reviews, too. As many small business owners have learned, one negative review that’s boosted to the front page of Google can spell doom for their business. Just like a positive review can encourage new folks to try an unfamiliar restaurant, a negative review can drive just as many away. Lesson: don’t force reviews if you’re not ready for them.

Positive reviews from non-incentivized customers will almost always feel more “real.” So although it may take longer to get a review, it may be worth your wait.

Have you ever read a restaurant review and just known that it was the owner writing it, or one of the company’s employees? How did that make you feel? Most consumers who feel like they’ve experienced a fake review will immediately go elsewhere, with a permanent sense of distrust in that business.

Some review databases (like Yelp) frown on incentivized/paid reviews. They’ll go as far to delete over-zealous, fake sounding reviews in order to keep their site “honest.” In this case, it may not be worth the investment to reward a reviewer.

If your restaurant is outstanding on both service and menu fronts, you may not have to encourage review submittal at all. A new patron should be so floored after having left your establishment that they want to share their experience with the world. Have you ever been to a restaurant where the server was “on it,” the food was excellent, the wait was nonexistent, and the atmosphere was just fun? I bet you wanted to tell people about it. This same theory applies to restaurant reviews: provide an entirely excellent experience at every point of contact and expect to be rewarded for your hard work.

The answer is up to you. If you can solicit reviews in a fun, creative way, that plan might work out well for your business. Beware of over-incentivizing; remember you want honest reviews, not a bunch of fluff. No doubt, reviews are a superb way to generate new business. You might even say they’ve become essential in today’s world of infinite information. Keep in mind that consistently great service will be rewarded with words of praise, so keep your bar set high, your plates clean, drinks full, food hot, and staff friendly. You’ll eventually get to the point where you don’t need to solicit reviews anymore, they’ll just come naturally.