Steve Jobs and David Ogilvy.
These guys were masters of completely different arenas.
Jobs helped build the world’s most influential tech empire from the ground up. Ogilvy was the undisputed king and pioneer of modern advertising.
But there’s one thing both Jobs and Ogilvy had in common…
That is – an insane insight into human psychology and behaviour.
Like any sales or marketing effort, building a great sales funnel is understanding the psychology behind every decision your prospect makes – pure and simple.
That’s why we’re going to learn nuggets of wisdom from the masters, and how we can apply these when we create our sales funnels.
The Top (Attracting Leads)
Lead generation lies at the top of your sales funnel.
Whether it’s an email, an ad or an article, this is your prospect’s first impression of your business.
If you’ve captured your prospects attention, you have a lead. Here's a great post on B2B lead generation strategies for 2016.
Steve Jobs – Focus on the People, Not Products
Apple’s sales folk are some of the best in the world.
Are their products unique?
Nope. Are their products the best?
But still, they’re the most influential and successful tech company in the world.
Because they focus on you – the customer.
Throughout your journey with Apple, this is something you’ll notice.
From the design of each product to how they’re marketed, your experience is always at the front of their minds.
Consider Apple’s iPad landing page below:
Does Apple list facts, stats and specs?
Hell no! Every little aspect focuses on the question – “how is this product going to make our prospect’s life easier?”
Do Apple jump into an obnoxious, disconnected sales voice?
No! Their copy talks to you as an enthusiastic friend who’s just discovered a great new product.
Applying This To Your Sales Funnel
1. Sell the Sizzle, Not The Steak
Here’s something controversial – products and services don’t exist.
All that matters is people’s problems and the (potential) happiness they could gain from what you’re offering.
Are you writing your latest sales email? Creating a Facebook ad campaign? At every step, consider ‘how is this going to benefit my prospects?’ Try to keep it to one, key benefit.
Enter their world and solve their problems, and you’re golden. HubSpot talks about this on one of their blog posts.
2. Talk Like A Human, Pal
This one seems obvious, but with the volume of businesses that adopt a ridiculous, disconnected sales tone in their writing, it clearly isn’t.
Write like you speak – without the ‘uhms’ and ‘buts’.
Be clear. Be concise. Be colloquial (if it’s appropriate).
If you talk like your ideal customer, your chances of engaging them are much higher.
Have you noticed how I write my blog posts? I use a lot of ‘you’s and ‘I’s to keep the conversation very fluid.
To keep it bouncing back and fourth, even though it's just me sitting at my desk writing a blog post. But I know as you read this, you'll be consuming information which if written technically, can be really boring. So don't be afraid to spice it up a bit and converse with your audience.
David Ogilvy – Be Bold, Be Different
Are you selling invoicing software?
A photography course?
Men’s luxury clothing?
It’s pretty unlikely that what you’re offering is 100% unique. So, how do you go about distinguishing yourself? Consider David Ogilvy’s quote below:
“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.” – David Ogilvy
Ogilvy was a great believer in being a maverick…getting creative…thinking outside the box. In his ad work, this was obvious.
Take the famous Rolls Royce ad as an example:
It’s sophisticated. It’s clever.
It’s 100% Rolls Royce. Creating a unique brand voice and identity is one of the most important aspects of attracting leads.
Applying This To Your Sales Funnel
1. Surprise or Delight Your Audience
WordStream put together a nice list of unconventional and creative ways to surprise your audience.
The greatest commercials in the world have always shocked, surprised or warmed our hearts.
However, you don’t have to be outrageous or hilarious in every touch point with your prospects.
You do – however – have to stand out. And that conveniently brings us to the next point.
2. Weigh Up The Competition
Think of your competition as the benchmark you have to surpass.
If you’re simply reaching their level or – worse – mimicking their techniques, you’re seriously handicapping yourself.
Gaining a keen insight into your competition is a key step in distinguishing your company.
The Middle (Converting Prospects)
At this point of your sales funnel, you know your prospects are – at the very least – curious. Your job is to convince them that they’re about to make the right decision.
It’s the most important part of the process. It’s also the most difficult.
Don’t despair yet! With a little thought and planning, you can make this work.
For the ‘middle’ of the sales funnel, we’re going to use a landing page as the model. Just to be clear, the ‘middle’ of your sales funnel is really any step during the process where you attempt to engage and convert prospects.
This could be your website, sales materials, newsletters, videos, and much, much more. You can apply the following to all of those examples.
Steve Jobs – Simplify
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”- Steve Jobs
From their slogan ‘think different’ through to their ultra-minimalist product development, simplicity is one of the defining aspects of Apple’s world-wide success.
Simplicity is powerful. Take Wufoo’s landing page, for example:
The message is clear – Wufoo helps you make forms. The benefits are also clear – it makes form building fun, easy and – importantly – free.
The design is also minimalistic. The ‘Sign up for free!’ call-to-action contrasts clearly with the background.
Overall, there’s nothing to potentially confuse or put prospects off here. Nothing turns prospects away like jarring design, an excess of content, or ambiguous messaging.
Applying This To Your Sales Funnel
1. Design Is Important
The design of your landing page should achieve one thing – supporting your message. When you have 2/10ths of a second to form a first impression, getting this wrong can be devastating.
Here are some tips:
- Choose the right colours – Pick an easy-to-read background colour and – most importantly – use a contrasting colour for your call-to-action buttons or forms. This contrast is super important – don’t confuse your readers with nasty, clashing colours. Check out CrazyEgg for more about colour psychology and use it as a guide on building your next sales funnel.
- Feng Shui Your Page – Space. Out. Your. Content. White space leaves your prospects wanting more. A variation in content (images, bullet points, different fonts, etc.) improves your readability. Make the reading process easy.
2. Be Like Hemingway!
Okay, not really. The badassery of America’s most awesome author is unachievable. But you can learn from him.
He was famous for his concise, sparing use of language. You can apply the same principles to your sales page content.
- Keep It Simple, Stupid – Don’t say more than you have to. Cut down unnecessary words. Make sure your message – in your headlines, your CTAs, and your body content – is crystal clear and unified.
- Cut The Bullshit – Stop using ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘innovative’. Remove phrases like ‘solutions-oriented’. Don’t use excessive superlatives like ‘amazing’. Most of these prove nothing about you, other than the fact you’re trying too hard.
Check out the Hemingway app – it’s a useful tool to help you in becoming more concise and to-the-point with your copy.
David Ogilvy – Test, Test, And Test Some More
“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” – David Ogilvy
Ogilvy was a huge supporter of testing and research. During his era, these tasks were costly and time-consuming. Ah… how David would’ve loved Google. Now, there’s no excuse – acquiring the right information on the web is comparatively easy.
Multivariate testing is the most popular form of testing. These tests direct traffic to different versions of content, allowing you to measure what works – and what doesn’t.
A sales funnel is a continual exercise of testing, tweaking and optimising.
Check out the A/B test Unbounce did for California Closets:
What version do you think converted better? It’s difficult to say, isn’t it? Believe it or not, version A pulled in a staggering 439% more conversions than version B. Unbounce’s explanation?
“A slightly shorter form” and “text within the image communicates the message quickly”. Check it out.
Those little changes resulted in over 4x more conversions. Because the psychology behind landing pages is so subtle, it’s clear that testing is seriously important – for any stage of the process.
Applying This To Your Sales Funnel
Always Be Testing
- Main Headline – As Ogilvy says, “8 of 10 people only read your headline”. Make sure your headlines are direct, value-oriented, and concise. Test these first.
- Videos and images – Visuals have a powerful impact on our readers. Images can affect the entirety of your content in the form of visual cues. Experiment with what works best.
- Call-To-Action Buttons – Positioning. Colour. Shape. Size. The message. These are all factors to consider in testing the most important element of your sales page.
Want to learn what else to test? Check out Unbounce’s article.
There are a whole slew of tools out there for building pages, testing and analytics. Here’s a selection of some of the best:
Page Building – My go to page builder and funnel builder is ClickFunnels
Testing – Optimizely, Within ClickFunnels
Analytics – Improvely, CrazyEgg, HotJar
If you want more information on the specific tools I use, you can visit the Resources page of the website.
The Bottom (Closing Customers)
The sale. Closing is the difference between a pretty website and a functional sales page that brings in that sweet green.
As consumers become more empowered and impatient, it’s also one of the hardest steps of the process.
Steve Jobs – Empathise, Focus, Impute
There are reasons Apple outsell every single company within their industry. The above – ‘empathise, focus, impute’ was Apple’s marketing philosophy in 1977. The fact that it still is remains testament to its effectiveness:
Empathise – We will truly understand their [customer] needs better than any other company.
Focus – In order to do a good job of the things we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.
Impute – People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software, etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.
Applying This To Your Sales Funnel
There couldn’t be any better advice in optimising your sales funnel for closing sales.
Is your service, product, and overall message speaking to the right people and their needs?
Is your sales funnel focussed on one goal, with minimal ‘leaks’ or distractions in the process?
Have you paid attention to presentation and the quality of your prospect’s experience?
If not, here’s how:
1. Continually Offer Value
Simple? Sure. Extremely effective? Hell yeah.
As the world of online business becomes more and more competitive, distinguishing yourself becomes more important.
This is a powerful way of not only converting your prospects, but retaining them, too. Examples include:
- Free trials/memberships (add limited time for urgency)
- Free books, articles, and video courses
- Relevant, helpful tips, emails and newsletters
- Entertaining/surprising content
2. Look At Your Funnel Holistically
Your sales funnel is your prospect’s experience. Look at yours as a whole. Is it guiding your prospect down one, focussed route, or is it all over the place? Software such as CrazyEgg allows you to see – visually – what elements of your page are causing your visitors to leave.
3. Never Settle
Sounds vague, right? Bear with me. In the example of Apple, Jobs never, ever settled. His employees produced an ‘adequate’ product? He sent them back. This is the attitude you need to have. David Ogilvy believed the same:
“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.“ – David Ogilvy
Your latest page design doesn’t impress you?
Send it back. It probably won’t impress your prospects, either.
Is there a disconnect between your AdWords campaign and your squeeze page – in design or messaging? Don’t leave it, fix it.
Converted your prospect? Don’t stop there.
Keep improving your services, engaging with them, and offering them value.
They’ll thank you by sticking around.
David Ogilvy – Build Trust
“Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. [Speak to them as such.]” – David Ogilvy
There’s a reason the king of advertising was so successful – he built an intimate understanding of his prospective customers. He addressed their dreams and fears directly. He built trust.
There’s nothing more important than building trust in converting a prospect. And nothing could annihilate trust quicker than the insincere, robotic sales-pitch that so many ‘marketers’ adopt when trying to sell their product. Write like a human! Be conversational, empathize with your reader’s problems, and be honest in your intentions.
There are also other techniques that can increase your reader’s trust:
1. Testimonials and case studies
Social validation is an age-old, tried and true concept. Use positive testimonials and case studies of how your product or service benefitted your audience. Use facts and statistics. Always, always use names and – ideally – portraits for testimonials.
To build trust and close the sale, scream – loud and clear – “this is how we’ve helped people just like you, and we can do it for you, too”.
2. Relate to your audience
Speak conversationally. Get on your prospect’s level and in their world. Even better – tell a compelling, emotionally-charged story. Neil Patel is awesome at this. Show your audience that you’re like them, and they’ll not only buy what you’re selling, they’ll become your biggest advocate.
3. Stay Slick, Professional and Classy
Remember those horrid, long-form sales letters that looked like they were produced in paint, and went on for thousands and thousands of words? Times are changing. Design is important – Apple have proved this.
From your sales ad or email through to your final CTA, ensure that every little bit of your content fits with your brand identity and reinforces the idea that – yes – your prospect ought to choose you, and not your competitors. Don’t give your prospect any reason to doubt you – whatsoever.
…And that’s a wrap. I know this article focussed more ‘big picture’ stuff – branding, general marketing and psychology – but I think it’s super important to start with these big questions. Remember – keep testing. Keep exploring. Keep questioning. I’ll leave you with one last quote:
“Stay hungry, stay foolish” – Steve Jobs