#7 / May, 2009
In this issue:
Purpose of the Newsletter
WRITING: Where is your transitional paragraph?
Here’s a surprise revelation: you need to map out your article or book so that you and your reader(s) intentionally arrive at the same destination at the same time! More important, you have to tell them at the outset where you are both going…
You know the single most important part of an article (even a book) that will keep the reader(s) continually on track and fully involved? It’s the sentence, or several, that immediately follow the opening lead.
The lead’s job is to grab us and make us want to read more. The transitional paragraph links the idea of the lead to how or where we will go in the paragraphs and sections that follow.
“Forget your winter garb in
In our podcasts at www.visualtraveltours.com we get this intentional guidance by insisting that in the query they focus on the five geographically linked segments of their tour, then they write a solid 90-second introductory text telling the viewer where they are going and the key things they will see or do when they are there. The title is the lead, the short intro is the transitional paragraph, and the remaining 30 minutes or so (the heart of the podcast) are the tour itself.
So your homework is to study the next ten full articles you read to see how the lead attracts and incites, the transitional paragraph bridges and points, and the rest makes the opening promises work. Then use this structure yourself so everything you write has its day in print.
I suppose there are really two dozen ways to sell a product, but these two are by far the most commonly used ways that I see on the Web, and they are quite different. Let me explain each, with examples.
(1) The standard way is to simply list a product on your website’s index (home) page, then link it to a page (or many) that provides more detailed information. For example, go to www.gordonburgett.com and activate the link on the left side that says Great Second Life. (You can also get there indirectly at Gordon’s Books.) You will see the root page for a general market book that was published several years ago called How to Plan a Great Second Life. That page includes the title and sub-title, the book cover, a summary of the book’s contents, and, in this case, a directory that has the link and a short explanation for nine categories that a potential buyer would like more information about.
Through the directory the reader can link to the order form, table of contents, chapter openings, introduction, chapter one, dream list, testimonials, large print edition, and the book’s core information as a booklet or an audio CD. Note that they can even read two chapters (I like to use the opening sections, which are the table-setters) to see if the book’s contents and style are what they are seeking.
The link page from the index concludes with the order form (again) and a way to receive this newsletter.
There are three rather standard kinds of order forms too. (A) It can be a fill-in page that can be faxed or mailed back to the seller with the necessary check or credit card information; that might also include the phone number or email address where the same credit card information could be sent to order by those means, and (B) It can be an electronic order form processed through PayPal or a similar server (I use a 1 Shopping Cart and PayPal combination) where the buyer provides the mailing information plus the facts needed to instantly process a credit or pay card, after which the product is then either immediately downloaded (through a link) if it’s digital or it is mailed, if not. The (B) format comes in two types. Either the buyer is delivered to a full order page where all products (or, sometimes, a selected assortment) are available (our example  does that), from which the buyer chooses one or several purchases, then enters the payment data.
The second format goes directly to the shopping cart with the chosen product in the cart. Our second example, , takes this route. That keeps the target product as the primary focus and expedites the sale on the spot. Usually, though, the buyer can opt to add more products (they are returned to the full order form), then the full(er) shopping cart is processed and all of the items are bought.
SQUEEZE AND LANDING PAGES
(2) A newer way to sell products is to create an opening squeeze page, followed by a landing page. Let me use my current sales item here so you see how much tighter the selling focus is.
In this case, I contacted my newsletter e-list with a short (7-paragraph) email that had the headline, “Earn Six Figures by Giving Seminars.” The rest of this “squeeze page” (see a copy here at www.gordonburgett.com/SetUpandSellSeminarSqueezePage.htm) whets the reader’s appetite to learn more about the three-part, audio CD-based “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” that would legitimately show them how to earn those six figures. There are only two escapes from a squeeze page: opening the link to the landing page (in this case at www.setupandmarketyourownseminar.com) or closing the contact.
If they do open the landing page (indicating at least some interest in seminars or workshops), the rest of the landing page (mine is short; many are 20 pages long) tells them precisely how the promise can be achieved—and what the product I have for sale contains (here I include the agenda sheet for the three audio CD seminar and the Table of Contents of the workbook), how it works, and—by far the most important—what benefits the buyer can expect to receive. Landing pages often include testimonials, video shorts, numbers to support claims—and short, active text (in one-sentence paragraphs) that oozes with urgency…
Again, there are no diversions (like the many directory links in ) nor any way to delay action, which is called for at the several “ORDER NOW” buttons where the product usually appears in a shopping cart ready to be immediately processed. (That’s not quite true: they can also see how to become an affiliate [to sell the same or other products of mine] and how to get my newsletter—both almost at the top of the first page, before the selling starts.) The logic is that the reader has come to the landing page to learn about one thing, how they can get the benefit(s) promised on the squeeze page. So all of the contents point to that product and how (and why) it can and should be bought right now—if it’s not too late!
Why am I sharing this? Because we all know about (1) but most of us know very little about the mechanics and structure of (2), and we need to understand both systems to fully sell good products that will help those eager to buy from us.
You will notice one addition: in my example of (2): I include a $10 discount coupon (and coupon number) good only for orders by June 17. Others might offer an additional free report, a longer use or subscription period, or some kind of extra incentive. That’s far easier to control in (2), and to evaluate the response rate, because you know to whom it was sent. It’s also easier to promote again, if you wish, to that target market. You could even offer different rewards to different mailing lists without having to alter the basic product information.
I hope this helps. I wish I had understood the processes earlier in my career.
WRITING, PUBLISHING, SPEAKING, AND—A FREE BOOK!
For about five years the
bulk of my speaking gigs came from my then new book called How to Plan a Great Second Life:
What Are You Going to Do With Your Extra 30 Years? In fact, I was
talking about that in
So what has that to do with us? In part, I’m pleased to give you a free copy of that book in digital form. Just link here and write 5279 in the coupon box for a 100% discount. No tax or shipping. (If that’s too daring or scary, check out the book first at www.gordonburgett.com/GSLbook.htm!) (The tome’s facts are by now a bit dated but the processes of putting joy, purpose, and meaning into your second life, starting at any age, are timeless. Good luck with it…)
But there’s more to share since we are interested in parlaying your skills and products into your own highly profitable empire.
I decided at the beginning of this year to stop promoting that book and speech. It was aging, as was I, and I had other priorities. It still appears on my product list (in four formats), but I won’t up-date and publish it again. And I’ll use the remaining stock mostly as support books to draw attention to the newsletter and other ventures.
Apropos, when a much respected colleague asked friends and business associates if they’d like to add a bonus product to a list of free items that buyers of his new book would receive, that’s where my “GSL” digital version fit right in. It’s a solid book with a good selling record; better yet, its digital version, delivered as a download, has no printed inventory, nor are tax or shipping involved. So the digital version is my free book.
The benefit to me, other than helping a friend and sharing a topic I very much believe in? By being in his catalog of bonus products, the book and I suddenly become known to several hundred thousand webfolk on a variety of cooperating e-lists, plus all who accept the gift are added to this free newsletter as double opt-in subscribers.
Which is when I whacked myself on the side of the head and thought, duh, you guys are already here, why aren’t I giving the book to you? (Thus the earlier gift link.)
I’m sharing this process because it suggests a way you can use dated or marginal products as a sort of bait to attract others who will benefit from your key programs and tools. In fact, many in this field create e-books and audio CD items specifically for this purpose, without any intent of selling them at all. (Me too. I’ll tell you more in coming months.) One related item that serves as a good example and guide is Bob Bly’s A Direct Marketer’s Secret Weapon for Building a Large and Profitable Opt-in List: The “Internet Loss Leader” Strategy. It’s a free step-by-step guide on how this concept works.
In my case, that still leaves a (small) pile of unsold physical books. How do they get absorbed? As free add-ons to sell other books “Let me add [GSL to X book] today…”; as a valuable component in a bundle of related books usually available at speaking programs; as promotional items sold at big discount for firms or people seeking a proven, popular give-away, or finally as a donation to prisons or other institutions.
The more products and services you create in your empire, the more each plays a supportive role, the more income you can honestly earn, and the more people you can help. Bingo. (Enjoy the book.)
BOOK: How long is a book?
A quick amplification from last month. The other day I saw in some old lecture notes from about 10 years back that the U.S. Post Office used to define a book as 50 pages in length. And I received a much appreciated e-mail from subscriber Nick DeCandia, the President of Den Publishing Company, who says that UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) defines a "book" as a "non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages excluding covers." (Nick also sent the links to prove it!)
A great article in the April 20 Time Magazine, pp.42-5, called “Get Rich Slow” shows how you could get rich (slowly, now) in the new economy with almost no investment except time, a needed idea, and usually some near-free help.
The topics in the examples given? Aggregate ranking of car reviews and spare bed rentals for budget lodgers—but it could be 1,000 others. Mix in noodleconomics, the solution to a problem, perhaps linkedin.com, and the kind of tenacious genius that my newsletterfolk have, and bingo—an empire in bloom!
Purpose of the Newsletter
Gordon Burgett specializes in niche publishing and empire-building from writing, speaking, and product development. That is the theme of his monthly newsletter, "Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire."
He has also given 2000+ paid spoken presentations nationwide, written 36 published books and 1,700+ freelance magazine and newspaper articles: Gordon is also the owner and director of two publishing firms. His most recent book is Niche Publishing: Publishing Profitably Every Time.
Burgett is the Executive Editor of www.VisualTravelTours.com,
leading visual travel podcast production firm in world, and for years has
appeared as a talk show guest on radio and TV shows across
If that's not enough, here's Gordon's more extensive website bio!
of the past newsletter issues