In online marketing, as in most endeavors, we talk about finding people who are successful and emulating what they do.
For example, you find a sales page that’s converting like gangbusters, so maybe you use the same font, the same style of headline, similar graphics and so forth to sell your product.
And yet, counterintuitively, this can sometimes do more harm than good.
Here’s how I learned this lesson…
Way back in the day when I first started marketing online, I created a very simple information type of product along with a sales letter. I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I just wrote everything in my own voice and fingers crossed, I hoped it would sell.
I sent out several emails to my small list, all written like I was writing to a personal friend of mine. I really didn’t know a thing about selling, about headlines, about great sales copy and so forth. I just laid everything out the best I could like one person talking to another over the back fence.
Lo and behold, I made nearly $3,000 on that little product. I was ecstatic and over the moon with joy!
So, a couple of weeks later I tried the same thing. I created another little product, wrote my little sales letter, sent out a handful of emails, and POW! I made just over $5,000 with that one. I couldn’t believe how easy this was.
That’s when I got to studying other marketers. I knew there were others who were making five and six figures on their products, and I wanted to emulate their good fortune by learning what they were doing.
On my next product I used everything I had learned: How to craft a great headline, write awesome sales copy, get super-duper graphics and fancy fonts and eye-popping images and screen shots to prove what I was saying and all that good stuff.
My sales page and my emails were so professional looking that I was about to bust my buttons with pride. I couldn’t wait to launch because I knew – I KNEW – this was going to make me my first online fortune.
And I’m here to tell you… crickets. That is, nothing. If I remember correctly, I got 3 whole sales and one of those refunded.
It was pitiful and all I wanted to do was take to bed for a week and nurse my sorrows.
At the time I didn’t really have a clue what had happened, but looking back, I think I know what it was:
In trying to be someone I wasn’t, I came across to visitors like every other marketer out there. I wasn’t being myself. I was being some generic “me too” version that didn’t resonate with people at all.
It took me a solid month after that just to get my chin high enough to create another product and sales page. This time I didn’t use fancy graphics or images of anything. I went back to talking to my reader like we were friends. And guess what? The sales came in again.
Now mind you, I’m not saying you shouldn’t study copywriting along with what’s working for others. Absolutely you should do that.
But in the end, you’ve got to use your own voice and differentiate your personal brand from the crowd by being the one person no one else can be – yourself. Get all the marketing and selling skills you can get but then use those skills to promote your own persona and uniqueness in the marketplace.
My original sites looked like crap. My fancy souped-up site looked pretty darn good. But the problem was the fancy site looked like every other fancy site at the time, while my crappy little site looked like it came from ME. And my readers trusted me, not a fancy site.
I hope this is making some sense. It’s simply a matter of being true to who you are. I’ll give you an example:
Let’s say you want to personalize your site with some photos. Which do you think will do better:
1: Photos of… me posing in a suit, a super expensive sports car, a McMansion, a yacht and a supermodel
2: Photos of… me playing with my dog, my vegetable garden, my back deck where I work on nice days and my family
Now I’ll grant you that the photo of the supermodel probably wouldn’t hurt. But the fact is, people want to see the real you, not some made up fairy tale of how you think millionaires live.
Bottom Line: If I see one more sales page full of McMansions and sports cars, I think I’ll throw up. And I suspect most people feel the same way I do. But show me your family, your pets, your backyard or anything that is REAL, and I’ll pay attention to what you have to say.