Anyone can write. Few can write well. It’s an art form. It’s a science. And when it comes to web marketing, it’s an essential. And while it can take thousands of hours to master the skill, it is possible to do well following this practical sequential writing formula … I call them the 5 Ps.

  1. Picture. What does the prospect want?
  2. Promise. How does my product solve the prospect’s problem?
  3. Proof. What evidence do I have that I do that best?
  4. Price. What does it cost?
  5. Push. What should the prospect do next?

I explain each step below …

Step 1: Picture

Usually in the headline and first paragraph, I illustrate the prospect’s ideal result. This gets the prospect engaged to read more. If done well, the prospect should be saying to himself, “yeah, that’s what I want!” However, this is not a feature of my product (or service). This, instead, is an emotional appeal. Tip: fear is one effective emotion to engage readers. More effective are envy and exclusivity.

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Step 2: Promise

Next, I explain how my product solves the prospect’s problem and delivers the ideal result. I usually do this by writing a bulleted list of features. I also briefly explain how each feature benefits the prospect.

Tip: try to tie every benefit back to the picture you established in step 1.

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Step 3: Proof

Next, I not only provide evidence that I do this well, but also evidence that I do it better than the competition. I can use credentials, statistics, client testimonials, case studies, and awards.

Tip: much like a police officer’s badge, graphics work well as ‘visual evidence’ … credentialing agency logos, photos of clients, graphs, awards.

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Step 4: Price

Next, I let the prospect know how much it costs (in time, pain, and money). Also at this step, I try to remove as many purchasing risks as I possibly can (unless, of course, I want to keep risks in place in order to qualify prospects). There are several ways to reduce purchasing risk:

  • Guarantee (e.g., if you’re not satisfied, we’ll rework your case until you are at no added cost)
  • Privacy (e.g., your information is kept strictly confidential)
  • Time (e.g., the exam takes just 11 minutes to complete)
  • Pain (e.g., the procedure is completely painless)

Tip: there are several ways to avoid ‘sticker price shock,’ to include:

  • Incremental payments (e.g., 3 monthly payments of only $299 sounds better than $900)
  • Competitor comparison (other practices charge as much as $7,000 … we charge just $4,500)
  • Bundled value (e.g., for all of this you might pay as much as $4,000 … we offer it for just $1,750.)

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Step 5: Push

Finally, I remind the prospect of the picture and let the prospect know how to purchase my product. I keep it simple. Most of the time, it’s just a phone number or e-mail address. A long or complex purchasing process may hinder responses.

Tip: If I have a complex or expensive product, I also offer a lower-priced or free product. This lets the prospect get something now. In turn, this lets me keep in touch with the prospect. Information product downloads can work well for this.

Tip: I make sure the prospect knows who they are contacting. Me? A front desk person? I also let them know how soon they can expect a response to their inquiry.

Tip: Sometimes it helps to add urgency to the push if there’s a good chance the prospect won’t return once they leave your site (e.g., if you subscribe to my e-newsletter by January 30th, I’ll send you my free 105-page report).

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That’s the basic formula. Is it possible to do more or better? Sure. But this practical web writing formula establishes a solid foundation.