How can you beat out competitors that have more experience, more fans, and more credentials than you?
With a fun, easy little copy formula I call Friendly Authority.
I’ll break down the 4 steps for doing it in a sec. But first, a quick story.
Last week, I met an aspiring life coach.
She’s charismatic, with lots of personality and passionate about empowering women. But she figured the only way she could be seen as a legit life coach was if she went back to school for an advanced psych degree.
Now if she wants training that’ll help her be a more effective life coach, that’s great. But if she’s only going for a piece of paper she thinks she needs to be seen as legit, she’s wasting time and money.
After all, the guy who basically (and accidentally) created the Life Coaching industry, Tony Robbins, doesn’t have a Master’s in counseling. Things worked out alright for him.
To show how you can become a legit authority people turn to and pay for help, let’s look at a guy who’s become a big name in the personal development world despite not having a fancy psych degree.
I’m talking about Mark Manson.
You’ve probably seen a Mark Manson article pop up on your Facebook news feed. He’s a former dating coach who writes fun, thoughtful articles often related to self-development that get shared an obscene amount.
Have you not read this yet? Get on it.
Even though he doesn’t have a Master’s in psych, people turn to him for life advice (as well as entertainment). Either by paying to subscribe to his site or buying one of his online courses about dating, overcoming anxiety, or building social skills.
Why would someone buy one of his courses when there are thousands of certified therapists available?
Mark has Friendly Authority. Which you can get too, for free, to legitimize yourself and become the person people turn to and pay to solve their problems.
There are 4 steps you can follow to establish friendly authority. I’ll break them down now while showing you how Mark uses it.
Step 1: Be the friend they turn to
Image taken from: attackofthecute.com
People are way more likely to read your stuff and buy from you if they like you. Luckily there’s an easy way to be likeable. Do the opposite of what Hillary Clinton does: Be casual and let your personality shine through.
Everything I’ve seen Mark write, from blogs to sales pages, has a fun, conversational tone. He doesn’t use hype or stuffy language to sound “smart” or “official”. He writes likes he’s an good friend hanging out in your living room.
He’s relatable. He’s someone like you, someone you can trust.
On top of that, letting his personality shine through makes his copy fun to read. If you’re on a sales page you’re more likely to read his entire pitch because you’re enjoying yourself!
Take this example. This line is from his sales page asking you to subscribe to his site. Here’s how he asks for the sale:
Even though he’s asking for money, he keeps that paragraph fun and loaded with personality.
So keep it conversational and let your personality shine through in your copy. It’ll make you more relatable, so people turn to you for help. And it’ll keep readers engaged, so they can’t help but read your pitch and be more likely to buy from you.
Step 2: Claiming Authority
So Mark established himself as a cool guy you’d want to hang out with. Great.
But how does he go from entertaining guy you like to read while you’re on the toilet, to someone you’d pay to solve your problem?
He builds authority by showing he deeply understands you.
Take a look at this story Mark uses to open the sales page for his online course on overcoming anxiety.
“It was 2008 and my new consulting business was in shambles. I needed a new client. Like, now. Rent was due in two weeks. I barely had enough money for food.
I should have been working like a madman.
But instead, I sat there, sitting, staring at the cursor, blinking on, blinking off.
Should I email some prospects and try to get them on the phone for a sales call? Should I try to network and get myself invited to an event? Should I touch base with my past clients and see if they needed anything else?”
Here he’s relating to the readers. He’s showing he understands their pain by telling a story of how he once wrestled with the same problem they face. Then later, describes how he overcame that problem and shows how you can do the same using his course.
This story gives him authority. Think about it, who would you rather get help from? Someone who has gone through the same challenges you face and come out the other side? Or some therapist who read about your problem in a book?
Now what Mark does next is smart. It’s a problem I have to fix in a lot of the sales pages I’m called to critique.
Mark’s example is so specific the reader could go “Well, that’s not my exact problem. That’s not how I experience anxiety. You don’t understand me. Bye”.
So what does Mark do?
He creates a larger context for his story.
After telling his story of his own struggles, he drops this line:
“For years, my life was driven by fear. All of my actions were based on avoidance, procrastination, and insecurity.”
See what happened?
He’s created a frame for his story.
That example he gave now falls under the larger umbrella of living a life “driven by fear”.
Following the specific story that describes the pain the reader feels with larger, overarching context is a powerful combination. It proves he understands the reader’s struggle. While at the same time, leaves space for the reader to project their own unique experience with that struggle into that frame.
Adding this larger contexts means he’s basically saying “I may not have your exact experience with anxiety, but I’ve had something damn close. This solution worked for me, it’ll work for you”.
Because he had given that specific example of his own struggle, it’s easier for the reader to believe the solution he introduces will work for them, too.
Step 3: Ramp up your authority
Now no sales page is perfect. There’s always going to be tweaks you can do and new angles you could take to boost sales.
And there’s one thing in Mark’s sales page for his overcoming anxiety product that could help boost sales while proving he’s the go-to guy to help in this area.
See, Mark does a great job showing he understands the reader’s problem.
After that, he then introduces a “simple trick” he learned for overcoming anxiety. Which is what you get when you buy his course.
The “simple trick” is smart because everyone’s looking for that “magic bullet” to solve their problems. For example, people want:
- The pill that’ll let you lose 10lbs overnight while you sleep in and eat donuts
- The magic line that’ll make a man or woman fall for you
- The special hack that’ll make you super productive
So calling it a “simple trick” gives his product that magic bullet quality.
The problem is, you can Google “tricks for overcoming anxiety” and find tons of info. And there’s nothing in this sales page explicitly saying how this trick he’s teaching you is any different or better than what you’d find on the front page of Google.
How do you fix this?
First, he can increase the perceived value by showing how this is more than a “trick”. It’s a system, a method, or a formula — a step-by-step process he came across that’s more powerful than a single “trick” because it takes multiple strategies and mixes them together in a way that amplifies their power.
This cranks up the perceived value of his offer. It’s not a “trick” like you find on Google. It’s a specialized process. It still has that “magic bullet” quality. But by putting more meat on the bone it becomes more enticing and easier to believe it can lead to the desired outcome.
Now that he’s upgraded this from a “trick” to a “formula”, there’s one more step that’ll get the reader salivating…
Step 4: Becoming a leader in your niche
He can take that special “thing” (be it a formula, method, etc.) and own it by giving it a name.
Legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga took his copywriting knowledge and packaged it together to create The Bencivenga Persuasion Equation.
Neil Strauss turned his tips and tricks for picking up women into a process called The Annihilation Method (which raked in $1.4 million when it launched.)
Tony Robbins turned his time-saving strategies into RPM (Rapid Planning Method) System.
Giving your solution a proprietary name works for two reasons.
First, it positions you as a leader and innovator in the field. Because you’ve created something nobody else has.
Second, it makes what you’re selling enticing. You’ve made it a tangible thing that they can only get from you.
Your competition might have a fancy Master’s degree. But when you create your own proprietary method or system, you’ve got something they never learned from those dusty old books.
We covered a lot. Let’s summarize these steps that create The Friendly Authority Method.
- Talk in a friendly, conversational manner
- Speak to the problem the reader faces by sharing a specific example of how you experienced the same thing. Then step back and wrap that problem in a larger context so the reader can project their own experience into that frame. (Like Mark did sharing a story of anxiety, then stepping back and saying how it was part of a bigger problem of his life being “driven by fear”.)
- Turn the solution from a “trick” to a formula, system, or method to increase the perceived value.
- Give that method a name and make it proprietary.
Do all that together and your reader will like you, see that you understand them, and view you as someone with the unique solution to their problem.
Not a bad spot to be in.
More copy tips for beating out the competition
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