LinkedIn Answers: Valuable Insight for the Fearless

Do you still think of LinkedIn as “the Web site for networking when you want to find a job”?

If so, you are missing a big opportunity. LinkedIn Answers is a free service for even non-paying LinkedIn members. Other members are motivated to answer your question because it lets them showcase their expertise, which could lead to introductions and opportunities.

Why “For the Fearless”?
I asked a question about why my promotion wasn’t working. Well, I got answers. I lot of them. About how I got it wrong … available for the public to see.

I like to say, “Marketers don’t have failures. They have learning opportunities.” Still, make sure you’re ready for some public criticism in exchange for the insight.

My Experiment
A few months ago I took a PHP copywriting class with Jason Fladlein and Robert Plank. (PHP scripts allow the page to be dynamic: such as “only x minus one left” after each sale and “time’s running out” for a limited time offer.) As a big fan of Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, I was intrigued to build scarcity into my offer.

I created a long-form sales letter in the spirit of Fladlein’s successful 48-hour report. As a test, I wanted to motivate parents to buy a defibrillator for their children’s schools. If it worked, I would consider other sales letters for other products my company sells.

It didn’t work.

Asking my question on LinkedIn Answers
Within 18 hours , I received 10 points of view about why the promotion missed the mark.

I asked, “At what asking price does a squeeze page cease to be effective?” Here’s a summary of the feedback:

From Merrill Clark: “It comes across as being desperate with 10 “buy a defibrillator now” buttons. The copy and focuses on you, not necessarily as much as to benefits of your reader. Are you using the right keywords? You are trying and testing – so that’s a good thing! Don’t give up. Sales pages do work.”

Merrill, noted on the buttons. Guess I went too far personalizing, thought that made it more real. Thanks for the feedback + encouragement.

From Elge Premeau: “Here’s a good example of a squeeze page: http://www.beginnersphotographyblog.com/choosingadigitalcamera.html. I would tweak this sales letter to speak more to potential buyers self interest. Why is $1500 a deal? Do other portable defibrillators cost $3000?”

Elge, you’re always on the mark. You gave more insight than I could post here. All good points.

Peter Netri: “Why should I (1) trust a guy called Joe AND in a product which I even cannot check out (2) feedback on other websites AND (3) compare prices. ‘I have only 19 left’ and TV news snapshots are ridiculous.”

Peter, yours was the most pointed feedback and the inspiration for the title of this post. Still, you make good points. Re: 19 left, was trying a scarcity angle. TV news, was trying to show it is quite real.

Danielle Clark: “Hit the PTA’s state-by-state with some communication and inquiry into safety committees. I believe they have pretty effective email networks.”

Danielle, it’s a good idea. Here, I wondered if an open sales letter could work. Perhaps it can, just not this one.

Sheryl Sacchitelli: “The page you set up is not an appropriate medium for selling that product. That style of writing and marketing seems to cheapen the product. I feel like I’m about to buy a self-help book or a free cruise (on which I’ll then be sold a timeshare), not a life-saving medical device.”

Yes, Sheryl, the feedback is overwhelmingly in agreement with you. Was experimenting with the very hard sell I’ve seen work in other categories. Perhaps that tone is wrong for Class III medical devices.

Daphne Taylor: “The letter is too strong. I think the message is good, but at the end, it just feels like a sales pitch.”

Daphne, I wonder if a “softer” letter would have had a different outcome. Seems doubtful at the moment.

Andrew Trickett: “That is a huge donation to a school! And I believe that the odds are heavily against my son having a SCA.”

Andrew, you’re right, that is a big donation. Re: the odds, the statistical argument wouldn’t save hundreds (thousands?) of lives each year in North America. The AHA estimates that if defibrillators were as prevalent as fire extinguishers an additional 40,000 lives would be saved each year – that’s more than a cure for breast cancer. And I’ve met a 6- and a 16-year-old survivor. They were “fine.” The first symptom of sudden cardiac arrest may be death.

Tia Peterson: “I don’t believe necessarily that price is an issue at all. If there is a market out there buying AEDs at that price, you could use a sales page effectively, so long as the people visiting your sales page are in that market.”

Tia, noted. For this test, I wondered if people who knew – and trust – me personally would take the message at face value. If the letter worked, I would have explored these points for the follow up.

William Bernhard: “While your pitch is compelling your presentation is not. If you make the page more visually compelling and use a lot less text (and the hard sell) I think you’ll generate more sales. People don’t really read web sites, they scan them.”

William, I struggle with your feedback a bit only because I designed the layout in the spirit of many sales letters I’ve visited. I trust the lessons I picked up from Jason Fladlein, Michel Fortin, and others.

Reynald Fleury: “It would make sense splitting the target market between school children for 5-10 years old and school children for 10+.”

Reynald, thanks and noted.

Ted Rubin: “Think from the viewpoint of your target instead of from your own (someone who is totally educated on the subject and is looking at it intellectually instead of emotionally).”

Ted, absolutely. I tried to educate and appeal emotionally. I fell short.

Jennifer Rosenberg: “Have you thought of adding video to these e-mails? Might that be worth a try?”

Thanks, Jennifer. My next foray into sales letters will include video.”


Conclusion
If I were afraid to experiment, I would never have launched http://UrKidatSchool.com. And if I were afraid to ask for feedback, I’d still be wondering why this was “a learning opportunity” instead of a success.

Go out, try something new, and ask for feedback!

Thanks again to all contributors for this great insight,
Sincerely,
Joe Hage

Comments

  1. You are fearless Joe! I think what your experiment really demonstrates is that writing a compelling sales letter is really, really hard and you don’t nail it the first time. If you want to keep at this experiment, I’d be glad to join you in the writing and testing of other sales pages.

  2. Elge, how can I say no to an offer like that? I’ll be in touch.

  3. While I am not commenting on your letter quality, offer or content I will be an advocate to the value of having the equipment in schools. While my son was in Junior High one of the athletes out on the field died from a heart attack. There is a time to be fearless so carry on Joe!!

  4. Joe Hage says:

    Jan, I really appreciate your comment! Let me know if you need an AED in his school or at GA Creative!

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