White Paper Marketing And Deep Buying Trances

This post’s a followup to ‘Hooked on White Paper Success Copywriting’ and I recommend that you read it first.

Have you ever asked yourself – “What ‘makes’ people take action and pay for goods or services online?”
The question interests me as both a consumer and a copywriter.

There are tons of books and courses that attempt to answer this conundrum but I think convincing people to buy online often comes down to applying three basic concepts in your marketing strategy – with one of the tactical implementations being the copy itself.

This mind map illustrates how I believe Michael Stelzner’s white paper success product is right on the money for his target audience.

(And by the way, even if you’ve got little interest in white papers, there’s still much to learn about the direct response approach he’s using to market the online summit and, by implication, his own business.)


white paper success mindmap2

Visit the white paper success summit’s sales page at http://whitepapersummit.com (appears to be down now as of 27 March, 2012) and you’ll see a great example of direct response marketing in action.

Notice that the only links from the page are to the checkout, or to a squeeze page where ‘not quite sure prospects’ can get a sample document from Michael, in exchange for their email address.

It makes good sales closing sense to keep the external links to a minimum and not provide ‘excuses’ for readers to be distracted by clicking away to view Bob Bly’s site (no offense, Bob!), or to click on a testimonial provider’s link. Visitors can simply hit the back page button on their browser if the message is not for them.

Incredible Offer + Believable Scarcity + Proof = Powerful Sales Letter

The equation above is the ‘power behind the marketing’ because even the world’s best copywriters would struggle to get much response if these three factors were glossed over by the product/service creator.

To this marketer’s mind, the most important of the three is the nature of the offer being made. Put simply, it has to be knock down extraordinary to grab people’s attention online these days.

In my case, as a copywriter with several technical white papers under my belt, I wanted a course that would take my skills in this area to a much higher level, as quickly as possible, and with as little inconvenience as possible.

And so when I checked our Mr. Stelzner’s sales page I was in the mood to be wooed by an incredible offer. (Even so, my skeptic’s radar was running in the background. That guy never sleeps haha!)

It was a simply mesmerizing deal:

Live online Teleclasses /webinars spread over a month (no travel necessary and also allows a busy person to schedule attendance well in advance).

– Downloadable transcripts plus the audio mp3 files (Great! With the time difference in Japan I may not be able to attend all of the live sessions.  Not to worry. I can also listen to them on my mp3 player and view the transcripts whenever I want.)

– Networking opportunities with other attendees. (There’s a private forum which I started posted on right away and got replies from some of the expert contributors. I also signed up for the LinkedIn group but haven’t used that one much yet because of my self-imposed Mon-Sat social media curfew ho!ho!)

– A stack of bonuses in the form of sessions and transcripts from last year’s conference.  And a great way to check out the relevance of the material. In addition, it was valued at nearly $1000 (notice that a $989 figure was quoted as the cumulative value of the bonuses. This did help ‘influence’ my purchase decision because I reckoned that the bonuses alone were at least equal to the price of the course.)

What Makes an Offer a Knockout?

In many cases it’s the nature of the guarantee.

With this one I simply cannot lose – up to two days into the course and I can request a full refund and keep the downloaded bonuses. (Access to the discussion forums and the downloadable files area are are no longer available, which is fair enough.)

Decisions. Decisions. Say Hello To Scarcity!

OK. So I’m sold on the offer and the benefits. But what’s going to make me go through the checkout process and part with my cash?

Why, a timed scarcity offer.

When done legitimately (as this one was. I checked a few days later!),  it can be a very powerful call to action. In my case I “got in” (the psychological benefit from being decisive and ahead of the crowd) on a 50% discount.

A few days later it was only 34%. And before too long, late comers to the show will be paying the full $597 sticker price. “Wunderbar! Aren’t I a smart laddie”, goes my internal chatterbox 😉

I don’t Believe You… Convince me!

Social proof is also an important part of a sales process for most skeptical prospects. I could quickly see that Michael has a book on Amazon which I’ll now have to buy in my next educational expense cycle! It was well received by a variety of readers, including fellow copywriters who are, in effect, his competitors.)

There were also testimonials from previous customers. It’s been said that testimonials are losing their influence because people have been ‘burned’ too many times by disreputable marketers using made up and unrepresentative ‘testimonials’ from their buddies (in a perverse sort of marketing circle jerk.)

This may be true in some markets – especially the wild west casinos of the ‘biz ops’ world. But for ‘real’ markets with real, hard working people, they can add an additional element of truth to the marketing meme.

I’m sure that the white paper b2b markets that Michael Stelzner and others are operating in are light years away from the shady dens that some Internet marketers inhabit. That’s why I find these testimonials more believable. (I did copy and paste some of the names from the sales page into Google and had a look at their web sites and LinkedIn profiles etc. Just my way!)

A real clincher in the social proof arena was seeing Michael’s ‘competitors’ (although the white paper world is a big one and there seems to be plenty of open space!) participate on his private discussion board.

What a pleasant surprise it was to get private mail from one of the forum moderators who asked for permission to use some of my comments in his blog. The prophetically-named John White (have a guess as to what his forum user name might be!) kindly mentioned yours truly in a post about white paper abstracts.

Video Killed The Copywriting Star?

There’s been much talk in copywriting circles of the power of video and how it might ‘threaten’ traditional direct response copywriting of the written word variety.

As long as people are able to read I don’t think there’s much danger of that in many markets. I therefore see video more as a complementary marketing tool for people who like to ‘consume’ information in a multimedia format.

You can see how Michael’s using it on his sales page to describe some of the key benefits of his offer. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the video the first time I read the letter – it was already 1:00 am, if I recall correctly! Most likely, I skimmed headlines and sub-headlines, plus checked out the pre-sale downloadable freebies (I got on his list to get those.)

Looking at the video while writing this post, the thought struck me that there was no indication of how long it was. I’m used to videos where there’s a scale or meter so I can gauge where I am in the ‘show’. If you’re reading this Michael, maybe you can have vimeo.com add a time stamp?

– Mark McClure

PS – The ‘buying trance’ mentioned in the title was (I think) rhetorical in nature. Still, Michael Stelzner’s sales letter and offer hit a ‘sweet spot’ in whatever psychological makeup I presently put on as a copywriter. That’s a form of powerful persuasion I can believe in!

PPS – In case you’re wondering, I’ve now signed up for Michael’s affiliate program but will wait until going through the online webinar before choosing whether to actively promote and endorse it in the future.

This approach is in line with my current understanding of the latest FTC rules regarding affiliate marketers and the manner in which endorsements and testimonials are acquired and used. I’ve no doubt I’m going to be wildly impressed by the sessions next month. Still, I want to experience that in person before acting further!

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About the Author
Author: Mark McClure - A freelance b2b case study and white paper writer to the computer networking industry. Based in Tokyo, Japan. About the 'Samurai Writer'.
One comment on “White Paper Marketing And Deep Buying Trances
  1. Michael Stelzner says:

    Hey Mark,

    Great write up. And yes, the video time indicator was turned off by design to reduce the friction of folks watching the entire video

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