Have you ever wondered why people keep buying recipe books?
Your grandma had a dozen books, so did your parents, and now, even if you're not such a good cook, you're likely to have a few around the house.
There are tens of thousands of recipes in blogs and on YouTube. Even so, there's when yet another recipe book comes out, and there's still a market for it.
Why is this the case?
The reason is more straightforward than you'd expect because this factor of recipe books doesn't just apply to food. If you've tried to learn a language, you're likely to have gone to a live course, bought several apps and some home study versions of the language.
When the next “wonder language program” comes out, you'll still want to try it out. And all of these purchases of books, courses and training don't just apply to beginners.
An experienced writer, for example, will evaluate and possibly buy a new writing course or go to a writing event.
Why is this the case, and how do you use this information to make your sales page better?
The things that people want haven't changed.
That's why they still buy recipe books. Or do art courses. Or learn article writing.
And it's the same with topics. People want to achieve what you want to achieve. Not something dramatically different. They just want to achieve it in a easier or more fun way and gets a precise result.
- Precise result.
- More fun.
Let's examine each of these in a little more detail, shall we?
1) Precise result
Back in 1995, I attended a course where I was learning programs like Corel Draw and Photoshop. Like most training, it advertised itself as a course where you could learn the programs. And like most students, you sign up expecting to understand what's being taught.
Invariably, you get smarter, but you're not too much down the line from where you started. You don't really know Corel Draw or Photoshop that well, and this shortcoming is easily demonstrated when you have to do something slightly out of the ordinary.
I would, for example, learn something in the class and then try to replicate it a few days later. And I'd be utterly lost. The reason for this kind of confusion wasn't because of the teaching method. Instead, it was because there was no precise result.
What is a precise result, you may ask?
A precise result is a benchmark. It means that everyone—without exception—reaches a particular standard. A train journey easily describes this benchmark.
If the train is supposed to leave Station A and get to Station B by 11:40 am, does it arrive on time? And if not, then how late? While it made its way to the destination, did everyone get there at 11:40 am? Or did some passengers get left behind on the trip between Station A and B?
If this kind of analogy sounds ludicrous, it's not.
In most training, there is a vague concept of “we'll learn Photoshop”, but not precisely which part of Photoshop we'll cover. Hence, people go from not knowing the program to learning a little bit.
When they're at the end of the course, they know a little bit more but aren't sure exactly what they've covered. The opposite of this confusion is to precisely state what you're covering.
Instead of “we'll learn Photoshop”, you're saying, we'll learn about Adjustment Layer Essentials
That's Station B. When we get to Station B—every single passenger on this train will know how to:
- Work with adjustment layers
- Understand the histogram
- Refine dynamic range using levels
- Adjust contrast and correct colour using curves
- Limit adjustments with clipping masks
The elements above are precise because you can benchmark exactly whether every participant can do what's needed. Instead of a vague “let's learn Photoshop”, you have a precise result.
One of the reasons why clients do courses at Psychotactics is because we have these precise results.
Headline course: Write eight different types of headlines in 10 minutes
Landing page course: Create your landing page in 3 days
Article writing course: Write articles with drama and story—not just “seven steps to this or that”.
One of the simplest ways to get precise results is to cut back on what you're covering
No matter what you are teaching, you are covering too much. Notice, it didn't say you're likely to be covering too much. It's a fact that we cover too much and promise too much.
If you scale back Photoshop to just “Adjustment Essentials in Photoshop”, you're more than likely to get the trainload of passengers from Station A to B, without a problem and on time.
Yet, there are seemingly situations where you can't control the result
Let's say you run a service where you help couples get pregnant. You can't guarantee the results, can you? What if you're a lawyer? You can't be sure that the ruling will go in your favour, can you? And if you're a travel agent, you have no control over the weather or flights, for that matter.
Even so, there are things you do have control over. As a travel agent, you can control what happens if the client gets into trouble. Do you have a number they can call should they have a problem? There are always things out of your control, and correspondingly, there are things you have complete control over.
When you look at the big picture and promise, “I'll teach you Photoshop”, you're likely to be making a promise that is very cool but hopelessly inaccurate as well. Clients sign up for results. To get the results, you need to break down the product or service into smaller chunks.
That's when your offering comes alive.
Here is a list of vague bullet points for a photography course.
- taking pictures of strangers
- night photography
And when we get precise, we have details like this:
- taking close up pictures of strangers
- composition in tight spaces
- using reflected light to improve your night photography
Clients sign up for results, whether it's training, service or a product.
It's easy to say, “oh, this is about Photoshop, but it won't work for my business.” The reality is that you invented your business to solve a problem. If you sell foot cream, or coffee, or clean carpets, there's an apparent reason why you started in life.
At first, you may have just wanted to earn some income, but you realised that you did something different as you spent more time. Clients came to you—and continue to show up—because you offer something that the competition doesn't.
Even so, this kind of promise can be vague and works only because the opposition is just as unclear. The moment you get a competitor that's precise with their result, it's easy to see why the audience leaves and goes across to the other side of the fence.
In our desire to stuff our product or service with more and more benefits, we miss out on the specific. Clients amble from one service to another, one product to another, like lost people wandering through the desert.
Yet, the moment you can give a result, things change. If you can promise results alone, you're way ahead of the pack. Yet, core motivations aren't just about results. It's also about fun.
I once went to a conference in Sweden, where most people were unhappy about a particular incident.
When you or I think about unhappy people at a conference, we tend to go down well-trodden paths. Maybe there were a series of bad presentations, or the room was too hot or too cold.
Perhaps the notes were missing, or the audio was terrible. None of these issues came up, and that would make it a pretty good conference. Yet, many, if not most of the clients, were sullen.
The spa pool at the Yasuragi conference centre was shut for the duration of the conference. The Yasuragi conference centre, situated outside Stockholm, has 191 hotel rooms and 422 beds. And it’s built in a way that replicates Japan—but in the heart of Sweden.
People wear Japanese kimono-like clothing, the rooms are all Japanese-style, and the long corridors have light touches of Japanese art. Central to Japan’s culture is the bath.
Yasuragi has a long, swimming sized sauna filled with salt water, and for most of the clients, this was the highlight of their trip. Yet, because they were in the process of doing some renovations—and because it was the end of the season—the spa was closed. Hence, the fun element of the event was swept away without warning.
One of the big motivations in life is fun
Hence, no matter what product or service you’re offering, there needs to be a fun component to it. A kid goes to the dentist and gets a lollipop. What does the adult get? A big, fat invoice.
A client attends an online webinar series, but it’s just endless, boring slides. Where’s the fun? If it’s nonexistent, the client will still buy into your product, but they will not be overly motivated to buy a new product or service in a hurry.
Southwest Airlines is famous for the way they approach their business
Every airline does the same thing, serves similar food, and takes you from Point A to Point B. However, Southwest staff are given free rein when they want to have fun. You’ll often hear of how they make funny announcements or surprise the passengers with a fun activity.
Tesla cars are not far behind
When you first get into a Tesla, you’re working out how everything works. Settle in, and scroll through the panel, and you get the Fart section. Yes, you read it correctly. You have
- Not a Fart
- Short Shorts Ripper
- Falcon Heavy
- Ludicrous Fart
- Boring Fart
- I’m So Random
Why would a car need fart sounds?
Because it’s fun, that’s why. When you look at a service or product, you need to ask yourself: do people really join because they want what I’m selling. The answer might be a “yes” if you’re selling food or coffee or a house.
However, how many of us really want to do an article writing course? Wouldn’t you prefer that your fairy godmother tapped you on the shoulder and you were magically able to write? Do you really want to learn Photoshop? Of course not.
What you want is the result—the endpoint—so why not make the journey more fun? Reader’s Digest put in several sections of fun in their very serious magazine. Newspapers used to have pages of cartoons, and now all they have online is awful news.
It’s not always easy to install a fun module
When starting up a business, it takes all your energy to figure out what you’re doing, where you’re going and how to get and keep clients. However, in a very short time, you can sit back and ask yourself: Can we make this a bit more fun?
Take the course I’m working on right now. It’s all very serious. It’s about how to write a sales page so that you can sell your product or service. What would make the course more fun?
I think I could think of a few things, but even if you’re stuck, it’s possible to ask your clients what would enable them to have a little more fun when consuming the course.
It motivates them to finish the course but then to come back.
Hence yes, results are crucial, but the fun is just as important. And then there’s the obvious: Don’t make me think. Or, in other words, “is this easy”?
If you've ever used Apple's podcast app, you realise what a pain it happens to be. All the user is trying to do is do one of three things:
1- Listen to a podcast
2- Save a podcast (if they want to listen again)
3- Discover similar podcasts
Instead, the same company that invented the iPhone—and got you to open it with two clicks forces you to struggle through three straightforward actions. They've taken something that should be easy and made it horrendously difficult. It makes us wonder: how do we make things easy?
The answer is simpler than you'd expect
The answer is: what's difficult?
When we started the Article Writing Course, it wasn't hard to figure out where clients got stuck
Easily the most challenging part of writing is the starting point. Or as we call it, “the first fifty words”. If you're trying to create drama, you have to know how to pick a story, massage that story, then reconnect it to your article.
If the article is about welding and your story is about welding, well, ding, ding, ding, you're on your way. Yet, if the story is about bees collecting honey, and now you have to connect it to welding, you've got a pretty big issue on hand.
What did we do to solve this problem?
Until 2016, which was a whole 11 years after we started the Article Writing Course, the starting—or the First Fifty Words—was explained in Week 8. With just four weeks to go, every writer scrambled to find a way to understand and implement the concept. The assignment placement was so horrid that it took a complicated task and increased the difficulty factor.
It's hard work to rewrite an entire course as it takes months
The same applies to Apple's podcast app or to anything that we find difficult. We have to go around letting clients use what we've created. Where do they get stuck? How often do they get stuck? How do we find a way out so that their misery is not compounded?
It's likely you don't conduct a course—and sell a physical product instead or offer a service. What do you do? How do you make things easy? After all, there are dozens of touchpoints where you could fix things.
The way around this problem is to have a tiny “what bugs me”. It's not as intimidating as “feedback”, and yet it gets results. If you have a “what bugs me” on your site, in your store, in your office, you'll be surprised at how many people give tiny suggestions that can improve your operations.
We believe that clients come to us because we have superior products or services
They probably do. However, in most cases, clients come back for specific reasons. Think of the places you go, the sites you buy from and the places you eat at. You go there for results, there's an element of fun, and things are simple.
These ideas aren't fancy, yet they reduce the “risk factor” and inch up the “like factor”.
We tend to look for super-glitzy concepts to improve our business, but in reality, some of the most basic ones drive customers back repeatedly. Let's jump on the result, fun and easy bandwagon.
There's lots of room because people are too busy chasing their tails trying to do something extraordinary instead of doing what's essential.
This incidentally is also the reason why we buy yet another recipe book when there are so many.
The one we pick up seems to feel like it will get better results, be more fun to read and be a lot easier to cook. And why the recipe books will keep selling today, tomorrow and for decades to come.