Did you know that landing pages fail almost at the headline stage?
We're all told to create landing pages. So why do they fail?
The answer, it seems, can be found at any international airport. When planes land, they don't land all at once. They land one at a time. Yet on a landing page, we scrunch the issues together. We throw everything at the page. That's a mistake. And this episode tells you why it's a mistake and how to fix it.
You can listen to the audio too.
When you're at a derby, you notice something interesting.
Every single horse bolts out of the gate all at once. But wait, that is not interesting, is it? That's what the horses are supposed to do. They are expected to race madly towards the finish line so that they can win the championship. Which is fine for horses, but terrible for landing pages.
On a landing page, the first thing you present your client with is “the biggest problem”.
If you were to treat the landing page like the horse derby, then all the problems would try to outdo each other in the very first paragraph. Like horses thundering towards the finish line, they would all attempt to get ahead of each other.
And this causes a problem for the client looking at your landing page. Suddenly that client is faced with a ton of information hitting him all at once. It's why clients leave your landing page; they become disoriented, but mostly overwhelmed.
On any sales or landing page – your job is to present the client with the biggest problem.
A client gets interested in your product or service because you're taking on a specific problem. And it's that problem that needs to rise to the surface. A landing page is more like a layered cake than horses at the horse derby. There needs to be a sequence of ideas presented one after another based on their importance.
And yet, this restriction causes a real headache, because most products and services solve multiple problems, don't they?
How do you choose which problem to use? And what do you do with the rest of the problems? Do you just drop them or do use them elsewhere?
That's what we are about to find out as we go on this journey on isolating the problem. However, it's not a very long journey. We have three simple steps that will enable us to create a more precise landing page — and one that will get and keep the customers attention. We will find out where the customer gets confused and how to eliminate that confusion.
The three elements we will cover, are:
Element 1: How to choose one problem
Element 2: Defining why the problem is important
Element 3: What to do with the rest of the problems
When I was about ten years old, I wanted to be a pilot.
In fact, I can't remember anyone at school who didn't want to be a pilot. However, for most of us growing up in India, a trip to the airport was out of the question. This is because air travel was not as frequent or inexpensive as it is at this point in time. However, on the rare occasions that I did get to the airport, it was fascinating to watch the planes land and take off. But what was most interesting of all, was how the planes circled the airport.
Planes circle for a reason; Air-traffic controllers exists for a reason.
You too are an air-traffic controller when it comes to your landing page. In fact, it's pretty ironic that it's called a landing page in the first place, isn't it?
Ironic, because so many of us are more than keen on making sure all those planes land at the very same time. Circling planes don’t run out of fuel in a hurry, so why not let them circle a bit while you get the most one plane safely on the tarmac!
So what are the “planes”, anyway?
The “planes” are simply the problems you're presenting to the client. When we say problems, a negative connotation pops to mind, doesn't it? But that's what you're doing on your landing—you're bringing to light the biggest problem so that you get the attention of the client. For instance, Let's take the headline from the product on pricing – called “dartboard pricing”.
The headline reads like this: How do you systematically raise prices without losing customers?
Did you notice the “problem” in the headline? You can feel the pain of not raising prices, can't you? You know that you would like to raise your prices, but are holding back because you are not sure how your clients will react.
It's possible that you will lose some of them, or maybe the entire clientele will walk out in droves. What we have done in the headline — and that little bit of explanation — is define the main “problem”. When you read that headline, it seems pretty straightforward, and you can feel the emotion and get the point.
However, you can only get the point when you look at it from the air traffic control system tower.
When you sit down to write your headline, you are suddenly faced with all these circling “planes”, and feel the need to land all of them together. An inexperienced writer will try and bring out all the problems within the first few lines — or within the first paragraph itself. As you can tell from “an air traffic controller point of view,” this is a recipe for disaster.
Element 1: The first thing we have to do is to decide which “problem” is the most powerful of them all.
It's only the most evocative problem that will get the attention of the customer. But how do we know what is interesting to the customer? The way we go about this exercise, is to list all the solutions — or the bullet points together. We now have a bunch of bullet points or feature is that we can work through. Let’s take an example of a product that I use for recording my podcast.
If you decide to do any recording, you’re going to get a sort of echo
When you sit in a restaurant and find it extremely noisy, what you’re experiencing is the amazing ability of sound to bounce off surfaces. And to reduce the noise factor, you have to have some elements that absorb sound. A tall shelf of books behind you helps. The uneven nature of the books seems to absorb a fair amount of bounced sound. To avoid sounding like you’re recording in the bathtub, you have to either put foam tiles on your walls (like they do in professional studios) or have some noise reduction system.
My Google search led me to Harlan Hogan’s Porta-Booth-Pro
Yes, it costs a whopping $350 to buy the Porta-Booth, but hey, I would rather cook a six-course meal for two weeks in a row than put a nail in the wall. To get some foam tiles, put them up, worry about disfiguring the wall—and getting random results—that didn’t sound like my idea of fun. So I got the Porta Booth. But wait, this isn’t a story of why I bought the Porta-Booth. What we’re looking at is how the benefits and features can be turned around to help you create your headline—and your first few paragraphs of text.
When we look at the Porta-Booth-Pro on Amazon, it reads like a lot of Amazon pages
There are a few bullet points and you have to make a decision to buy a $350 product based on these bullet points. And like horses at the derby, all four (or five) bullet points seem to dart out simultaneously. Let’s take a look at the Amazon page and see what we find.
– Rugged 600 denier fabric / Only 7 pounds / Air travels as checked or carry-on luggage
– 120% larger than the Porta-Booth Plus / Unique sonic stage “Auditorium” design.
– All interior surfaces treated with Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam #1 choice recording pros worldwide
– 2 way zippered bottom and rear slots for shot-gun mics cables boom arms. Corner straps add rigidity
– Anti-sway strap & Booth Lifter for boom arm mounting. Assembles in seconds Just close two zippers.
Notice the derby syndrome? What are you going to choose as a prospective client?
If you’ve already decided the problem that needs solving, it’s still hard to figure out which of the bullet points remotely get your attention. If you look closely, it’s part of the third bullet point—and slinking at the back of the sentence. So let me light up the importance of the third point for you. It says #1 choice of recording pros worldwide.
That’s it? That's all that's required to get the attention of the customer?
When you look closely, you realise what is happening when that specific solution or benefit is turned into a problem. As a solution or bullet point, the fact that it's a number one choice of recording professionals worldwide doesn't stand out. But when you turn it into a problem, it immediately gets the attention of the prospective client.
The problem would read like this: when you're on the road, do you end up in the closet trying to get a great recording? The subhead would be: when you're a voice-over artist, only the best sound will do for a recording studio.
We've all tried to reduce the noise by propping up pillows, searching desperately for rooms with thick curtains and occasionally even clambering into the closet. All of these techniques work, but there are terribly inconvenient when you are a professional. Instead, the Porta-booth Is like the equivalent of a mobile recording studio, reducing all those unwanted sounds and annoyances.
However, even a very quiet room—and this applies to homes and apartments, too—can sound like a “big, boomy box” to your microphone, instead of the tight sound booth quality we are used to in purpose-built studios. That's because in addition to picking up the sound of your voice directly, the microphone also “hears” the ambient sound of the entire space. And this becomes the room from “hell”.
Instead of battling with pillows and getting stuck in dark closets, here's what many professionals do on the road—they take their studio as carry-on luggage—no matter where they go.
See how different you feel about that very same bullet?
The Problem—the biggest problem is the key to getting the client's attention.
Yet, how do you choose the biggest problem?
Most of us are too close to our product or service and in many cases, can't see why clients choose us. We think we know—and that's what we put on our sales page, but often (more often than not) we're hopelessly wrong. For instance, let's look at the page on ‘Black Belt Presentations'.
That's an extremely powerful product because it shows you why you fall asleep when most presenters get on stage. It shows you how to design your slides, how to control the audience, how to structure your presentation—and yet, look at the headline. The biggest problem says:
When you make a presentation, wouldn’t it be amazing to completely control the room—without turning anyone off?
Then the subhead says: (It’s rough enough to have to speak to an audience, but aren’t you always in awe of presenters who can bring the room to life? How do you create presentations that enthral, hold and move an audience to action)?
Notice how excited you were by that headline and sub-head?
It's not exciting, is it? Because instead of doing a target profile interview; instead of going out there and understanding what clients want, we've continued to sell the product as if everyone is doing presentations on stage. And yes, for years since its release, the product has been bought by people doing presentations.
But the world has changed in the sense that many of us do webinars. We do podcasts, don't we? And ‘Black Belt Presentations‘ is perfect for both—but more so for webinars. A reliable webinar software like GotoMeeting costs over $250 a year, and yet if your presentation isn't amazing, what have you lost? You've lost the money you pay for the software, the time, the effort—and all because your presentation isn't doing what it's supposed to do.
Now webinars aren't news
They've been around for ages. Many of our clients could tell me right off that they rarely, if ever, get on stage. Yet, they're likely to give a webinar to a client or be part of a webinar series. And guess what? The lack of focus in that headline and sub-head—it's not only causing us to sell less product but also depriving you—the client—of increasing your sales, improving your credibility. And how did I figure out that the headline needs to be changed?
I got an e-mail from a client. He told me how he used it for his webinar and how it got the audience to respond amazingly well. And there I am, trying to procrastinate. I know I should get to changing that headline; that sub-heads; the first paragraph—and I'm betting you have the same affliction. You want to put off talking to your client and then making those quick changes.
But we're circling the airport, aren't we? We still haven't got to the point where you know how to pick the biggest problem. So how do you do that? How do you pick the biggest problem, the sub-head and the first few paragraphs of your text?
The answer as we know—doesn't lie with you
It lies with the client—your best client—or possibly any random person. How on earth does this make sense? It makes sense to approach a great client, but why approach a random person? What would you expect to find with any random person?
This takes us to our second part and: What's one of the biggest “rookie mistakes” when putting a landing page together?