Copywriting expert Bob Bly developed the Motivating Sequence along with writing instructor Gary Blake, Ph.D.
The Motivating Sequence is very similar to the AIDA marketing formula, but more practical in its use.
You can use the Motivating Sequence to outline your basic sales message or as a full-blown model for your entire sales letter. It’s all a matter of how much detail you want to package into each step.
The basic outline of the Motivating Sequences goes like this:
- Get Attention
- Identify the Problem or Need
- Position your Product or Service as the Solution
- Prove your Product or Solution Is the Best Solution
- Ask the Reader to Take Action
Let’s take a look at each one of these steps in the sequences and see how to accomplish each task.
This is the job of your headline.
A headline has a singular purpose: Grab attention and force the reader to start reading the rest of your copy.
To accomplish this you need to speak directly to your prospect. Identify with their problem and offer the certain hope of a solution.
Your headline may utilize your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). If you don’t have a USP, be sure to read the section on Writing an Effective USP.
Your headline may also include a hook. A hook is a compelling and sometimes shocking incongruity that forces the reader to say, “What the …!!!”
There are many proven formulas for effective headlines, but before you go searching your swipe file for a perfect headline to copy, make sure you work through the next 3 steps before you develop your headline.
Remember this step is first because this is the order that you present your sales message to the prospect. It isn’t the order you write the message in. A headline should not be written until at least halfway through the writing process. You can toy with some ideas along the way, but save most of your headline writing effort until most of your message is already finished.
One final thought on headlines. Should they be short, or long? Well, they should say exactly what you need to say to grab attention. If that means a long headline, so be it. Just make sure every word counts. Take the time to refine your headline. Cut out every word that doesn’t add value and continue cutting out words without castrating the headline of its potency.
Identify the Problem or Need
What exactly is the problem your prospect faces? You need to identify this, and speak openly about it. That is how you “bond” with your prospect. You are not just another product huckster. You can feel their pain. You understand their problems.
By establishing this kind of rapport with your prospect, you can glide right into the next section where you provide a solution.
The key to this step (identifying the problem) is to actually know the needs and fears of your reader. The problem isn’t just that they are losing their memory, their fear is that they will become a burden on their family, that they will make a fool of themselves and lose their dignity, that they will forget cherished memories and loved ones. See how that works? Identifying the problem means plumbing the depths of your prospects deepest fears and most horrible nightmares.
How do you do that?
The best way is to be a prospect yourself. No one knows what it is like to be going bald than someone who is going bald.
Unfortunately, as a copywriter, you don’t usually have that advantage. You have to write to persuade people you may not instinctively understand. So, the way to get into their head is with the interview.
Becoming a good interviewer is key to identifying the problems, fears and needs of your prospect. Find several people who qualify as one of your prospects. Ask them questions. Find out what makes them tick. What makes them smile. What turns them off. What grosses them out. What turns their crank.
Distill what you find into what I call the “perfect prospect” profile. You then create a “perfect prospect” from this data. Give your perfect prospect a name, an age, and whatever other details seem relevant. When you write, keep this perfect prospect in mind. You are talking to her.
Position your Product or Service as the Solution
Once you have bonded with your prospect by identifying their problem and feeling their pain, its time to introduce a solution. This solution will be your product or service.
The most successful means of doing this that I have found is to go through the features and benefits that your product or service offers, and how those directly address the problem or need of your prospect.
It is important to understand the difference between features and benefits. You need to talk about both, but most rookie copywriters tend to focus on features. That’s becuase product creators focus almost entirely on features, and they are the ones who give copywriters the product information they need to to write about.
Your job as a copywriter is to take the features the product creator gives to you and establish the benefits they provide. I talk about the the difference between features and benefits in more depth in another training session, so be sure and read that if you aren’t quite solid on the difference yet.
Once you nail down your list of features and benefits, give specific details of how your product will alleviate the pain you identified earlier.
Offer multiple benefits that your product will provide and how they will solve the big problem your prospect has.
Make your product or service shine as a perfect solution to their very need.
Prove your Product or Solution Is the Best Solution
Once you’ve established that your product can solve your reader’s problem, you need to quickly move to dispel any doubt that your product is in fact the best solution.
Consumers are very suspicious of products or services from someone they don’t know. You lack credibility in their eyes.
So how can you prove to them that what you say is true and that your product is the best solution?
If your product has helped someone else, their glowing report is going to resonate much better with your prospect than your own self-promotion. The great thing is, a testimonial can be full of enthusiasm and never come across as bragging or hype.
Make sure any testimonials you use are real, honest and verifiable. The FTC has recently cracked down on marketers using faked or over-hyped testimonials. You will want to read the entire FTC ruling and speak to a competent business attorney if you are unsure about the testimonials you want to use and whether you need to have a disclaimer with them.
But don’t let the regulations scare you away from using testimonials. They are still one of the most powerful sales tools you have at your disposal. Use ‘em correctly and you can dispel all doubts from your prospect’s mind and establish all the credibility you need top make the sale.
Ask the Reader to Take Action
This one sounds so simple, you may wonder why it’s even included. Well, it’s included, because if it wasn’t, many well intentioned copywriters would otherwise omit it. In a sense, it proves the point of this step in the sequence. If you don’t tell people what you want them to do, most of them probably won’t do what ou want them to do.
Be precise. Tell them you want them to take out their credit card. Tell them you want them to fill out the form and click the button that says “Order Now” (or whatever). Tell them you want them to order now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Now!
And here’s my call to action to you:
Follow all these steps. Tell your prospect you want them to order from you now. Go do it now.
Then sit back with a cold one and a smile as you watch your sales increase.