This is an email I received this week:
I’m starting to read some control copy. I followed Parris’ (Lampropoulos) advice about getting on the Second Opinion mail newsletter. I’ve been studying the small ads they send out. But I’m a little bit confused as to what you mean by “selling a concept instead of the product.” For some reason I can’t seem to wrap my mind around this.
I answered his question, and I thought it was worth sharing here, too. Because it’s really powerful, and a lot of copywriters don’t know to do it or get it wrong.
So here’s what it means to sell the concept…
You’re probably familiar with talking about the problem, and then introducing the solution. Pretty basic stuff.
But what lots of writers do is bring up the problem, and then talk about their particular product. Like, “Hey, do you have painful tingling in your toes? Well, just buy this product for $29.95.”
Think about that from the reader’s perspective. Doesn’t it sound a little convenient that the thing you’re selling just happens to be the solution to their problem? Not to mention, you haven’t really sold them at this point, yet you’re asking for their money.
Instead, there should be a step in between describing the problem and pitching your particular product: selling the concept. I think Dan Kennedy also calls this the “category of the solution.” (Someone correct me if I’m attributing that to the wrong person — I have insomnia and a toddler, so I deserve applause just for stringing together complete sentences right now.)
What is the concept or category of the solution? Well, I think examples illustrate this best. Here are a few:
- Before you try to sell them LinkedSelling, sell them on the idea of using LinkedIn to get leads.
- Before you try to sell them a Kindle Paperwhite, sell them on e-readers first.
- Before you try to sell a Peloton, sell them on exercise bikes.
So LinkedIn for leads, e-readers, and exercise bikes are all concepts or categories of the solution.
Once you sell them on that, you segue to your specific solution and talk about how it solves their problem and is better than any competing products.
Basically, this is your template: “Here’s the problem you’re having, here’s the type of thing that can solve it (concept), and here’s why our particular solution is best.”
This way, you can really sell them on your product before you pitch it. And you put some space between the problem section and your specific solution, making it less likely for prospects to think:
Alright, that’s it for this week. And if you have any copywriting questions, send them to me!