One of the best ways to sell without being salesy is to create “ah-ha” moments for your customers.
Get them to see their problem in a new light.
Doing this does 3 awesome things for you. It:
- Proves your expertise and authority. So they see you as someone they can turn to for help
- Separates you from the competition — your customers see your competitors as all talking about the same thing which you already proved isn’t the real issue
- Gives your reader hope. They already tried a million things and are filled with doubt. But if you do this well then you prove that you have a new angle/method they never tried before.
There’s a simple formula for how to create “ah-ha” moments for your customers.
And you can use it in emails, sales pages, case studies, Facebook ads — anywhere.
I call it the “XY Formula” because naming things makes you look smart.
It looks like this:
“You think the problem is X. But really, the problem is Y.”
Now you may be saying:
“Hey Brian, that’s super vague. How about some examples you sexy sonofabitch?”
Great idea! Here are 3 examples of how to use this formula from 3 different markets:
Example 1) Finance
Have you ever read the book Profit First?
I found it super helpful for getting my finances in order.
The book used this formula to address the real problem I and so many entreprenuers face.
We often THINK that our problem is, “I just need to make more money. If I do that, then I can pay for all the things and build up my savings.”
But the more money you make, the more things you find to pay for. That’s why so many people can increase their income then look around and go “Ummm I just made 50% more than I did last year… where’d it all go?”
The book teaches that the problem isn’t you need to make more money. The problem is you’re not paying yourself first. (See that? The problem isn’t X, it’s Y.)
The book suggests taking your revenue and putting a chunk aside for profit before you do anything else. This way you ensure your business is profitable.
If you don’t have enough left over to cover your bills, then it’s time to cut expenses.
The book shares this idea and how to do it. Then the author (Mike Michalowicz) shares a bunch of in-depth case studies to prove that it works.
He beautifully shifts your mindset to see that the solution isn’t to get more customers, it’s to set up this Profit First system. Otherwise you’re just dumping more water into a bucket that has a leak in it.
And then, low-and-behold, Mike lets you know about the business of accountants who specialize in the Profit First System who can implement it all to you.
Mike uses the “XY Formula” to show his accounting business is not only the solution to your money troubles — but it’s the only game in town. Because other accountants aren’t trained in this Profit First Methodology.
Example 2) Weight loss
Much like John Snow, the average person knows nothing when it comes to weight loss.
So many people think it’s all about the exercise. So they look for the latest Navy Seal Workout For 6-Pack Abs and Thighs of Thunder.
But anyone who has studied fitness for more than 40 minutes knows that it’s much more about diet than exercise.
So this can be an “ah-ha” insight for many. You tell them, “The problem isn’t your routine, it’s what you’re eating”.
Of course, more sophisticated people in this market already know that. So you can use the same technique to go even deeper.
For example, I did some marketing for a fitness trainer. His big thing was creating customized nutrition and fitness plans for his clients.
We noticed all the other programs were about losing weight fast. So we went in another direction.
In the marketing, we would essentially say, “The problem isn’t that you need a diet to lose weight fast, the problem is you need a diet that fits your lifestyle.” He ended up making $80k/month as a personal trainer online so this messaging worked pretty well.
Example 3: Productivity
Right now, I’m writing a case study for Abbey Woodcock and her freelance Co-op.
Abbey’s business is all about helping freelancers systemize their work so they can free up their time and look like a pro to their clients. (Btw I’m a member of the co-op and Abbey’s trainings are wonderful.)
The woman I interviewed talked about how before she joined the Co-op, she thought she had a “time management” problem. She was constantly working and never had time for herself or her young kids. So she bought all these planners and listened to all these podcasts on how to work from home as a mom but nothing helped.
Then she joined the Freelance Co-Op. She realized she didn’t have a time management problem, she had a systems problem.
She learned how to systemize every step of her freelance business — from finding clients to onboarding to doing the work to finishing the gig and getting referrals.
The result? She now has way more time to spend with her family. For example, she went from being able to do “board game night” once a month to four times a week. And she can hang out and have meals with her kids without being glued to her computer.
With this case study, every freelancer who THINKS they have a time management problem can see they actually have a system problem. And if you are a freelancer who wants to get their systems dialed in, guess who is the only person who can help?
That’s right. Abbey. Motherfucking. Woodcock.
Where to find Ah-Ha moments
Where do you find those “ah-ha” moments?
And how do you know they’ll resonate with your audience?
Simple: Talk to your customers.
-What they tried before they bought from you
-What made them decide to buy from you
-What were the biggest lessons/insights they got from you/your product
And don’t ask them this over email or in a survey. You’ll likely get a superficial answer that doesn’t help much.
Get on a call and ask them for real. That way you can dig deeper and get to the real meat of the issue.
And while you have them on the phone, may as well get a full case study out of it. (Those 3 questions are things I ask for every case study I do.)
That way, with one conversation, you not only get “ah-ha” insights you can share in your emails, sales pages, ads, etc. you also get a badass case study you can use to enhance every part of your marketing (autoresponders, launches, cold traffic funnel, etc.)
By the way, that’s just the start.
Your case study interviews can give you a lot more than “ah-ha” moments. They give you quotes and stories you can use all over your marketing.
These interviews can help you dial in your positioning, get clear on your avatars, and let you know exactly what to say to connect with readers and get them to buy.
I’ve got a whole system for how to use case study interviews to nail your messaging and get great copy out the door fast and for cheap. You can learn about it here.