When I chose my apartment in Bangkok, I unwittingly engaged in a sales process that has been tried and tested through the annals of time to produce enormous results.
Estate agents are masters of the art and will spare no blushes in the execution, even if you’re smart enough to know exactly what’s going on around you.
Here’s the situation. It’s 9am in the morning and the estate agent has arrived at your hotel. She tells you she has a few properties to view, and you eagerly jump in the back of her car to get started.
The first property is an absolute dump. Situated in the middle of no man’s land, no aircon, no transport connections and for the estate agent, no hope of a conversion. Of course, I play along nicely and express that it’d make a great home…for the right Thai family. Did she really think she could get me to a sign a contract for the exact property I wasn’t looking for? No, she didn’t, but she knew it would butter me up for what was to follow.
I vividly remember cruising from property to property, the specifications marginally improving to match my needs with each visit. By the end of the day, my girlfriend and I were exhausted and ready to retreat to our hotel room to mull over the options.
“But wait! There’s one more place I’d like you to see… I think it might suit what you’re looking for.”
Lo and behold, she hits us with the single best matching property of the day so far, and we’re both convinced that it’s right for our needs. The perfect size, all the aircon we could guzzle, fantastic sweeping views of Bangkok and a snooker table. A motherfucking snooker table. How did she know I’d fall in love at first sight with my own snooker table?
Maybe it had something to do with the email I’d sent a week ago casually stating what I’d really love in a dream apartment.
This leaves you to ask the question: Was she intentionally wasting my time with a bunch of crappy or “good, but just not quite there” properties? Or was it a fantastically executed tour-de-force of how to setup and nail a conversion?
No prizes for the right answer. Estate agents deal with people like me every day, and get many more opportunities to study the human behaviour than I do to prepare for the exploitation of it. I would tip my hat to her if I had one. It’s simply one of the most effective sales techniques in the book.
Use the power of contrast to create indecision and uncertainty based on the information you already have, before unleashing the ultimate solution that goes above and beyond all that came before. As long as your subject is suitably torn up to that point, there really is little he can do to fight the tactic. Besides, he’s getting what he wanted. Why put up a fight?
Okay, so how can we apply this art of contrasting to boost our affiliate campaigns?
The one commodity an estate agent has that an affiliate marketer rarely gets to exploit is time. While I was being driven around a city I had lived in for just 3 days in the back of somebody else’s car, an affiliate marketer has little “holding rights” over the subject. We have so many options to not listen to a sales pitch (exit the page, browse another tab, get distracted by our balls) that retaining attention becomes the most important stage of the process.
If we go back in time 18 months, you will recall a sweeping craze that involved dual-selling affiliate offers on the same page. Hey, if the reader is happy to buy an acai supplement for $39.95/month, why not hit them with an additional colon cleanse kit for $19.95/month? The upsell seems artificially cheaper after the customer has already invested in a more expensive item. Another valuable asset of contrasting.
Take one look at the GoDaddy checkout process to see the bastard child of Upsell in all his gory detail. Fuck you, GoDaddy. I only wanted a domain and now I’m sitting on 4 dedicated servers, an SSL certificate and enough Adwords vouchers to run my own charity. What part of No Thanks did you not understand?!
Even if we don’t intend to sell two items, it’s possible to sacrifice one as a way of accentuating the most attractive qualities in the item we do want to sell.
How many Plentyoffish members have heard of Match.com? My guess would be pretty much all of them. You can very easily throw up a landing page on POF that attempts to “sell” some basic and uninspiring benefits of joining Match. It’s not going to create much of a stir, but it does one thing very well. It butters up the reader for a more attractive proposition.
So when you hit them further down the page with a largely unknown, new and exciting dating offer, that offers a niche angle relevant to their needs (targeting a Divorced demographic with a Divorce niche offer, for example), you leverage the power of contrast to create a much greater incentive in the reader’s eyes. It’s very subtle, but super effective when executed well.
Dating is just one vertical of many that can be exploited in this way. My favourite angle is to develop the classic long sales pitch – notorious for shilling Clickbank products – only to give away something 100% free at the end. Gaming registrations, downloads, even zip submits if you can get the traffic cheaply enough.
Conversion rates soar in to the sky, particularly if you nail a demographic that is already keyed in to how these long sales letters are typically used.
One of the most effective landing pages I ever built was a flog that promoted $3 job search leads. It was ridiculously profitable because it leveraged the expected extravagance of a flog’s claims, and then gave away something for free when the user wasn’t expecting it. I drew my own conclusions that most of the success was actually down to the contrast from what other affiliates were doing.
Whatever the reason, a little contrast can go a long way. Take a lesson from the estate agents of the world!
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