What is the reason some offers fail and some thrive? Could cult psychology hold the answer? Read on to find out.
Praise be to L. Ron Hubbard! Not only did he teach us about Xenu and how his mass murder of the Teegeeack and their lost spirits are the cause of every bad feeling I ever had, but he was also a very skilled marketer.
Just in case people are not aware, I am not a follower of Scientology, but I am a fond observer of cults and the dark arts used to convince seemingly “normal” people to believe in very strange and radical things.
Before we talk about what I learned from one of the more accomplished cult leaders, I want to first tell you about a situation I have seen far too many times.
A driven entrepreneur comes to me with their next big winning offer. They uncovered a product so amazing that is is about to change the world. To be honest I am a sucker for a good idea and an amazing product and their excitement quickly is transferred to me as I excitedly ask… “What is it?! Tell me now. Now! TELL ME!”
I am soon blown away by an extraordinary list of amazing things:
- it will make it so your feet stop smelling bad;
- you will stop snoring;
- your hair will start growing back;
- it will make you a professional level singer;
- you will be able to finally understand David Lynch movies instead of just pretending you do;
- And the list goes on and on and on…
We both high five in victory because in that moment we know. We know that his offer is going to be a winner, but… Come the highly anticipated launch day and soon anticipation and excitement soon turns to dread as the clock ticks… And you see the clicks…
But not one single purchase…
Gutted everyone stares at each other and asks the question “How did this happen?”
How to “Find the Ruin”
Imagine this scenario: a young, despondent, man is wandering the streets of England. It’s 1954 and a new movement has just started gaining attention. This young man is approached by stranger. He says a few sentences…
“You have a mind. Here is the guide book for it.”
The young man was hooked and with his interest peaked he asked to learn more. The stranger was happy to take him back to the local headquarters where they proceeded to do two things. First they explained who they are and made sure to diffuse any objections about the Church of Scientology (ya know like not being a cult, no we don’t harass and blackmail our members, just the little stuff).
Secondly, and more importantly, they uncovered the one biggest pain the young man was experiencing in his life right now. Once he shared his story of a troubled romance that was currently haunting him and leaving him seeking answers he was hooked. All the stranger had to do next was prove that Scientology was the answer to the question he had been seeking and that he was finally home, where his pain and suffering would be alleviated.
You might be wondering when the mention of aliens and spirits and Xenu comes in, but that is much later and nothing we will be discussing here. The stranger wasn’t a marketing or sales genius but in fact he was just following the basic 4 step recruitment process all recruiters followed.
Step 1: Make contact (handing him the book).
Step 2: Disarm (remove any “misconceptions” about Scientology).
Step 3: “Find the Ruin” (the bad relationship).
Step 4: Close the deal (Make Scientology THE answer).
In this simple and devious recruitment model lies the answer to why offers fail… Find the Ruin.
Solve One (Just one!) Problem
If we go back to the situation of the failed offer I mentioned above you can see how this step was painfully missing. I mentioned the offer creator came to me with a list of problems the offer COULD solve. The problem is a successful offer only promises to solve one.
When the stranger was recruiting, if he had began to speak of all the problems that could be solved with Scientology, he would have likely become bored and overwhelmed the man. This is because humans are inherently self-interested. When someone starts talking about problems that don’t apply to us, we lose interest. Uninterested people are not going to become buyers, and they are unlikely to give you a second chance to try to convince them otherwise.
Just the other day I was reviewing a video sales letter (commonly referred to as VSL) for a friend. This was an offer he had poured his heart and soul to. He felt like it would be his legacy. He wanted to help people start their own businesses online and change their lives in the same way it had done for him. He had so many ways and things he was going to do accomplish it. I thought the offer sounded amazing and I felt inspired by his passion he had to help people, but then I watched the VSL…
It started as a business opportunity offer, but then became personal development, then biz op, then health and fitness, and honestly I don’t know what it went to next because I was struggling to follow along.He had so much to say…
He had so many problems to solve… He tried to solve them all and didn’t solve anything.
Needless to say, I felt for my friend who had all the enthusiasm and passion in the world, but couldn’t marry it to the right pitch. Fortunately, it is an easy fix! He just needed to pick the ONE thing he wanted to fix for people and go from there.
But how do you pick what problem I want to solve? It is like picking my favorite child. Which, by the way, for the actual parents out there, isn’t hard to do it all. It’s always the youngest one–they have disappointed you the least so far. Anyways, I digress.
It’s not up to you to choose. Don’t be the one that decides, let your customers do it.
Collect the answers your product provides and start writing headlines for each one. Now start surveying. Compile the list of your pain headlines and ask your target demographic which one speaks to them the most. Collect the data and pick the winner. You now have found the ruin and you can write your sales page to provide the answer which is your product. You just made L. Ron Hubbard so proud.
Seek Out Expert Advise
There is a ton of things you can do. Luckily people are everywhere so go find the ones that fit the demographic you wish to serve and talk to them. Go to some sub-reddit forums and ask the questions of what would you choose. Find Facebook groups and create a poll. Go old school and head down to a coffee shop and buy people some coffee if they answer your question. There is no short supply of people in pain you just need to find what pain your product targets best.
Once you get the target down to one simple pain point you will see a dramatic lift in your conversion rates. I can personally say going through this exercise on a failed offer more than doubled the conversions! Granted the first version of the offer was a certified stinker. This kind of work takes trial and error to get right. Don’t get discouraged. But before you launch your next big offer pause and think about the regal and dynamic L. Ron Hubbard and ask your self did I identify the ONE point of ruin for my customer?
If you can say yes, you are on the path to a great offer.
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