Persuasion expert and copywriter Bushra Azhar joins Kira and Rob for the 91st episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. This is a fun one. We covered a lot of ground with Bushra, beginning with her meteoric rise and success (she worked hard for it) and the principles she teaches in her books and webinars. The stuff we covered includes:
• how Bushra went from corporate consultant to copywriter and landed her first client
• how her business shifted when she launched an online course
• why she worked around the clock—for pennies—for weeks and the massive impact it had on her business
• how she made $7500 by making a single presentation
• why it’s harder to get results from Facebook groups today vs. a few years age
• why you should never PM people with advice on Facebook—and what to do instead
• brand positioning—how to do it and what not to do
• the 8 persuasion triggers and how to use them
• what accountants use for birth control (it’s a joke, people)
• what Bushra’s business looks like today
• the mistakes she’s made on her way to making more than $1 million
There’s a ton of value in this one—you won’t want to miss the discussion of the persuasion triggers which will help you improve your writing whether you write BoF copy or ToF content. To get this one in your ear buds, visit iTunes, Stitcher or click the play button below. You can read and download a full transcript by scrolling down.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
Mass Persuasion Method by Bushra Ashar
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for episode 91, as we chat with copywriter and autoher of Mass Persuasion Method, Bushra Azhar, about her story; persuasion triggers and why you need to use them; and how she’s found success creating programs for entrepreneurs; what she wishes she had done differently; and her advice for copywriters who want to grow quickly.
Kira: Welcome, Bushra.
Rob: Hey, Bushra.
Bushra: Hey Kira; hey Rob! Thank you so much for having me; it is an utter honor. And yes, I just clapped my hands, so if you heard a blast in your ear, I am sorry!
Rob: I’m clapping too.
Kira: Laughs. Let’s all clap!
Bushra: So it doesn’t look awkward, so I don’t look like a two-year old. But, thank you so much for having me. It is an utter pleasure; I am very excited.
Kira: No, we’re great. You’ve been at top of our list actually. We’ve wanted to have you on the podcast for a while. So glad you are finally here. And Bushra, a great place to start is just with your story, especially for anyone who has not heard of you before. How did you end up running your business, and copywriting, and persuasion?
Bushra: Oh, okay. So first off all, thank you so much. It’s a funny, funny note that I will tell, which I will think, it is probably… like I’m making a massive boo-boo in front of all the copywriters community, but I have to say this: you just introduced me, and you said “copywriter”, and the thing is, I don’t identify myself as a copywriter, because I have never taken any copywriter training. And, when I started my business, I wasn’t really sure which copywriting was which. So it the w-r-i-t-e, or is the r-i-g-h-t?
Bushra: And I said okay, which is which? I just knew that I’m good at using words to make a sales argument. That’s something that I’ve always done. That has always been my strength. But I never really thought there was a need for something like this, so when I started my business, I positioned myself as a persuasion strategist. I was not comfortable calling myself a copywriter, even though a lot of what I do is copywriting, but if you were to mention copywriting principles, I would not know what they are, simply because I’ve never been formally trained as a copywriter.
So, I was in consulting—okay, I changed a gazillion professions—but the last thing that I was doing was, I was working as a consultant in Saudi Arabia; I worked with some big Saudi companies. It was really great. And then I stopped, decided to dip my toes into the murky waters of online business; started 2014, and started it kind of like an experiment: okay, I’m just going to try it out, I’m not going to tell anyone, let’s see how it goes—most likely fail and make an utter fool of myself. I was, like, absolutely sure. So, I never told anyone, and I just started basically just put together a landing page, standing writing articles and using the psychology of persuasion in business in different ways. Again, the same thing that I was doing in my consulting work; how to dismiss his argument; how to build a page; how to craft a great proposal, how to craft a great email—really, anything—when it comes to written or in-person persuasion.
And I put together a website. I started guest posting, and the very first client that I got was actually from a guest post that I wrote for Copy Hackers for Jo, and I’m eternally grateful to Jo for giving me that opportunity. So yeah, that’s how it started. Someone read my article on CopyHackers, which is still is there—it still is very popular, it still sends me traffic—and she approached me and she said, okay, I really liked your article. I liked the way you write, and I want to work with you, and I can’t find you services page. And I was like, oh my God, oh my God! Someone wants to pay me money! And I just put together a services page like I would do for a consulting project.
I didn’t even have a Paypal account! So I created a Paypal account, I just sent her a link, and she sent me money!I was like, okay, what is this? What’s going on here? So again, that’s how it started, and then from then on, now it’s still—as you would probably agree with me—it still gives you a lot of joy when you get the pingof a new sale, but there’s nothing like that first sale, when someone comes to you, and you don’t really trust yourself, but someone out there is actually willing to trust you and give you money.
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Rob: So you get that first client in…what were you charging that client? What were you doing for them, and how did your business roll on from there? ‘Cause everybody loves that first client…
Rob: …And we get really excited when like, Hey great, we can do this! It’s a business. And then we finish up that project, and then…crickets. There’s no second client lined-up. So, walk us through like the first couple of months of growing your business and working with those clients.
Bushra: Okay, great. So I walk you through the first three months because that was, I think four months—the first four months: July, August, September, October—almost four months when I was only doing client work, because in October—I started in July—in October, I launched an online course. So when you have an online course, things kind of change a bit. It’s not just client work, but for the first four months, and you have to understand, I’m someone who’s not a native English speaker, someone who has never been great as a copywriter, zero online connections, no one knows that I’m on the internet, at least not in this capacity.
So I was known as a corporate consultant. I was known in that field, but no one really knew me in this new role, this new positioning. So what I did was, I got back to this client, I reviewed her website—again, I don’t know copywriting principles, but I know persuasion; I know sales arguments—so, I basically helped her. I charged her $500; I helped her build a sales argument flow on her page and her services page, and her product descriptions. So that’s what I did for her. And then, like you said, I was like, Okay, I got the first one….what next? Because I don’t know what else to do! But that was a fool-proof of concept, so I knew that there were people out there that were looking for help like this. I got the testimonial from her, so she was in the product-less business, and she got immediate results from making those changes, so, that was awesome.
And then what I did, which was kind of crazy considering that I was still working at consulting at that time—I was working full-time in consulting—so what I did was, I went ahead and I started posting on social media, on Facebook groups. I always ran ads for about, I think I spent about $100 to run ads, but I basically, all I did was I offered free website reviews, free sessions. So I did one hundred free website reviews. I finished them all in three weeks. From those one hundred reviews, eighteen of those people actually gave me testimonials, and almost 50% of those people actually decided to work with me; some of them worked with me right away, so as soon as I sent them the free review, they wanted to know what’s next, and the others actually bought a course as soon as I launched it.
So that was a huge game changer for me. Even though the three weeks that it took me to kind of do those hundred reviews, it was really painful; I barely slept, I was literally working around the clock. But once that was done, I never had to do that volume of work again, because I got that eighteen testimonials from someone who’s only been in business for three months. That was amazing. And then, obviously, these people were raving about me because they were blown away that something free could be so useful, so valuable. So that’s kind of the way it started. I did a tonof client-work, and again, even though it was paying me pennies at that time, because I was in consulting; I was already making six figures in consulting, so as such, the online business that I was running doing client work, was really bringing me a lot of money, but I still kept at it because I knew that I had to do this in order to actually grow to a place where I want to eventually be.
Kira: Okay. So, going from July—it sounds like you started in July—and then you launched your first course in October. That’s really fast. Were you intentional from the first moment that you wanted to work one to many, versus one on one? Even when you dumped into those three weeks of intense website reviews, were you like, it’s all going to lead into a course, it’s going to turn into this course…
Kira: Laughs. Okay!
Bushra: No, no, no, no, not at all. I had no idea. Someone approached me… So, in my head, a lot of the—like I said, I started this as an experiment—so in my head, this whole online business thing was, you know, it’s never going to work. It’s never going to work long-term. So honestly, the course creation was, there were something that I had thought, okay, I’ll build my list, I’ll build my credentials, and maybe at some point I will do a course. Like I said in the beginning, I did a lot of things, and one of those things was that I was a university professor. So, I was familiar with instruction design. I’m a good teacher. I knew I could do it, but it wasn’t a plan. I didn’t want to do it in, like, four months, after I started my business. But then, someone approached me. She was a graphics design person. And she approached me, and she said, you know the kind of world that you do for all these people—the website reviews—if you could do a short video instructional thing on this, then I could do the design part, you could do that part, and we could just bundle it together and offer it as a course. And I was like, hmmm….yeahI can do that! Because by the time, I’ve done hundreds of those.
So I am very comfortable just sitting in front of the computer and talking to a PowerPoint slide, honestly. So, really ugly course! Very simple. We didn’t even have a membership site. We literally just sent people the link with the password to access it. Like, it was truly ghetto; truly ghetto. And, I had the list of about 1,300 people by that time, mostly from guest posting. Very little ads and social media posting. So I did a lot of posting on Reddit which, in retrospect, was a stupid decision. So I had list of about 1,300 people; she had a list of I think another 1,300 people, and we just promoted to our lists, and I think we spent about $100 on Facebook ads. And, we ended up selling—oh my God—that was unbelievable. We ended up selling 320 spots.
Bushra: In two weeks!
Bushra: Yes! Oh my God, yes. I was like, what just happened?! Sigh. So that was like… Okay, you have to understand it’s a $47 product. It’s nothing, it’s like a 35-40 minute long presentation. But still. 320 people. So, when I got back the first—so that’s about $1500, and even when we split it and honestly there weren’t any expenses, because I was doing everything on my own; she was doing everything on her own, so we literally had no expenses. And when we split it, I was like, what just happened? I made $7,500 in two weeks! And it was just a presentation; I don’t even have to sell it over and over again, it’s just one and done! So that was what really got me hooked into this whole one-too-many model which, I don’t think I really understood the impact that something like this could have on the bottom line. And really, the reach that you can have with something like this. So that’s what kind of turned me into a…what I like to call a “course whore”.
Bushra: Laughs. Because, I was like, oh my God! I’m doing courses! And I’ve done a gazillion courses after that: big courses, small courses, master-classes, I don’t even know how many products now, I think about 12, 14 products, I think, products. So that’s how it started, but I think a lot of that had to do also with the fact that the two of us were doing it together. If I was doing it alone, absolutely I would not have such results. So, I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that we were doing it together. So that was…that was amazing.
Kira: So I was going to ask you, why were you so successful so fast? Because so many copywriters listening may say, I want to do that too, but most of us aren’t able to get that type of traction and sell 320 in two weeks. What worked for you? Was it finding that partner that helped you?
Bushra: So okay, yes, that—I think that would play a part, which is something that I tell people, you know: if you can find someone who is in a complimentary industry, and you can kind of join forces and do it together, that obviously plays a part. But I think another reason—and I would not say I was successful, I would say wewere successful, because for her too, it was a little bit unbelievable for all of us—for both of us. I think the reason it was successful was a) the price point. So a lot of people who bought the courses…and that was a time when Facebook groups used to work; now they don’t…so Facebook groups used to work, and I’d posted the link directly to the sales page in the Facebook group, and someone actually said, I’ve never seen you, I’ve never heard of you, I’m not even on your list. I went to that page, and I bought on the spot, and I never do that. So I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was a very crunchy, very specific, very crispy offer. There wasn’t a lot of fluff—it was $47. So it was the impulse buy purchase point. Also the point that it had…. typically it’s either copy, or design, but it had everything, you know, it had both elements. I would say that’s about it. I don’t think there’s anything special. I don’t there’s anything special that i did, because obviously a lot of those people didn’t even know me, so I can’t even say that oh, they were bran loyalists. No! They had no idea who I was! I have a really weird name. Someone actually posted in another group, and she said, I just bought a course from ‘Bushra Achar’! I was like, okay, I am not Bushra Achar, but thank you! So yeah. But I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was a specific impulse buy. Very crispy, very specific offer.
Rob: So Bushra, I want to follow up on one of the ideas that you just mentioned where you just said that that’s when Facebook groups used to work, and now they don’t. And will you tell us more about that thought? Like, why don’t they work today, and if somebody wanted to follow in your footsteps or do something similar today, what could they do instead of Facebook, which doesn’t work?
Bushra: Okay, so to be honest, I think it was a very responsible statement to make. I don’t think I should say, Facebook groups don’t work. I think I should say that Facebook groups were much easierto work than it is now. So now, you know, as Seth Gordon says, marketers just spoil everything. So I think there’s so much noise, and so much “ick” in the Facebook groups, and I have a really group Facebook group, so I can say that there are people who are doing so many things right, and they still don’t get traction. And I remember when I started, I honestly didn’t know anything, but people were paying attention because there wasn’t so much noise.
So I think one of the reasons that it does not work as well as it used to is because there was far less noise than there is now. I think the other reason is that people have just started using it as a marketplace. Now Facebook groups are not marketplaces. Facebook groups are communities; that’s what a Facebook group is, but people have just gone ahead…I have 20,000 people in my group, and I can say that about 18,000 of those actually see it as a place where they can actually come and promote, because it’s a group that I allow people to promote, which is very rare. And the reason I allow people to promote is because I want them to get good at this, but somehow they’re not getting the memo! Nobody’s getting good at this! They use the same old formula-swipe-engagement posts that don’t do anything.
So one of the things that I did when I was actually promoting my free sessions in Facebook groups, which I have taught people to do, but honestly I haven’t seen anyone follow through on that. And I told them—the people in my community—I said, I used to go into Facebook groups, and I used to randomly go through the group timeline, and just anyone who has a question with positioning on how to I say this, and it’s not converting, write them a damn essayon their trouble, and do that publicly. What people are doing on Facebook groups is like, “I will PM you.” Dude, when you PM someone, a) it’s spam; b) no one gets to see how great you are. The best bet that you can actually do to use Facebook groups is to actually go on, and actually do the review, or do whatever you want to do, helping that person in the Facebook group, do it publicly! So not only does the person you’re trying to help sees it, everyone else sees it. No one does it! Because it takes too much time! So that’s kind of my gripe with this: the reason Facebook groups don’t work is because people have turned it into a marketplace, where in fact it is a community that happens to also have your customers, right? So my Facebook group is a community that happens to have some people who would love to work with Kira and Rob. But, it’s not a marketplace. So that’s why I said, it does not work as well.
Kira: Yeah. No, that’s interesting because, in our group as well, it seems like the people who have been the stars in the group are the ones who contribute the most. And, and write that three-paragraph response to someone, helping them out, when you’re like, how did you even have time to write that? You’re a busy….you’re running a business! But, those are the people who really stand out in our community as well. So Bushra, what stood out to me, since I have been following you from afar, is that you do come out and you do say, I’m not a copywriter; I specialize in persuasion and psychology, and you really set yourself apart, and you really make yourself this category of one. Is that important today for all copywriters to figure out what that thing is, so they can come into the room and say hey, like, I’m not a copywriter like everyone else. I specialize in this thing. Is that critical in today’s marketplace?
Bushra: I think this is critical in any business. Honestly, there’s a term that the marketers use for it, called a “USP”, but I don’t think it’s just USP. I don’t think it’s just a unique selling proposition. I think, no matter what market you’re in, no matter what industry you’re in, you need to say what… The moment you have to say, this is why I’m different, you’ve lost the battle. You should never have to say this is why I’m different. The way you introduce yourself, the way you brand yourself, the way you position yourself? It should scream, this is why I’m different. And no, I’m not talking about people whose only contribution to positioning is, I’m a six-figure copywriter. “Six-figure copywriter” is not a brand positioning; it is just a statement of fact, you know? That’s not a brand positioning.
A brand positioning is, this is why you should choose me versus anyone else. And yes, that does mean that you will alienate people, because I have turned away a lot of work when people are like, oh I’m looking for a copywriter, and people would tag me, and I would come in any I’m not a copywriter—I’m sorry—but I would love for you to check out Laura Belgray who I think it a genius copywriter. So the reason i say that is because I’m trying to establish my brand positioning. And whatever that is…so as an example, it could so simply be something like, you know, I work with non-native English speakers, as an example, right? So I’m a copywriter for non-native English speakers; if that’s your brand positioning, then drive it hard! Drive it to the point where everyone knows that if anyone is struggling, anyone who is a non-native English speaker and they’re struggling with their copy, they know who to go to.
So yes, absolutely, figure out what it is that makes you different, and whatever that means; it could be anything. it doesn’t always have to be a demographic. It could simply be…. I don’t know, the speed of delivery? You could be the 48-hour copywriter! It could anything: it could be the speed of delivery; it could be the demographic that you work with; it could be the specific system that you use. But yes, there is a need to set yourself apart without saying, this is why I’m different.
Rob: I want to change the subject just a little bit, Bushra, and talk about your book, Mass Persuasion…Tactics? Did I say it right?
Bushra: Mass Persuasion Method, yeah.
Rob: Yeah. Mass Persuasion Method. So, will you tell us about the eight persuasion triggers that you write about in the book, and why they’re so critical?
Bushra: Yes, absolutely. So the idea behind Mass Persuasion Method is—and it initially started as something that I created in consulting called the Crack Client Persuasion model, and then I changed it to Mass Persuasion Method, and now there’s a book on it, and now there’s a course on it, and I talk about it all the time—and the idea behind the eight psychological switches is that the human brain is like an electrical circuit, and if you want to spark attention in that circuit, then you need to activate the eight persuasion switches, eight psychological switches. And the one switch, which we were just talking about, which he asked me, why is there a need to set yourself apart?
So one of those switches—there are eight, I will briefly talk about all eight—but the one that kind of leads on from that conversation is called the Vanity Switch. And really the idea behind the vanity switch is that humans naturally do comparison, you know, whether it is choosing who to go on a date with, or what red dress to wear on a date, we’re always comparing options, right? But this is like human nature; we’re always comparing. So, if, in your sales argument or in your copy, or in your positioning, if you’re not facilitating that comparison—if you’re not stepping in and saying, this is how it’s different, either saying it explicitly or saying it through your positioning, then people will never work in your favor. Because they are doing the comparison anyway. So, unless you step in and say, okay, this is how this is different…and sometimes you have to be really explicit.
There’s a course that I teach on the sales page. It’s a course that’s in a super-crowded industry. On the sales page, there is a table. So I have a table on the sales page that says: these are other programs… And I literally just go point by point drawing the comparison, because if I don’t draw the comparison, then people are going to do their comparison in their heads, and they may not arrive at the conclusion that I want them to arrive at. So, that’s way vanity switch in whatever you do—whether it’s selling a course, or product, or service, or yourself—you need to understand that people are constantly comparing you to someone else. And, because there are people who are like, oh, I don’t want to be in competition with anyone, I don’t want to make anyone look lame, you know. I don’t want to come across as, ‘I’m the best’… The reality is, even when you think you’re’ not comparing yourself to anyone, even when you think there is no competition, you’re still competing against a norm right? The person can go ahead and say, you know what? Screw it—I don’t want to do it! So it is your job to facilitate that comparison. So that’s like the one switch we just talked about, the Vanity switch.
Then there’s another switch which is really important, which again as copywriters you know—it’s the Prestige Switch, and the idea behind the prestige switch is that, no matter what you’re selling, no matter what your product is, you need to position it in a way that it makes the other person feel like it will elevate their social status. It will boost their prestige. And I remember when we were in consulting, we used to go in and, no matter what they were selling, we would always position it as how it would make the company look great, or how it would make the person who’s going to make the decision, make that person look great. Because, one of the biggest human needs is to be better than everyone else. Look better than everyone else.
So, an example that I give a lot is when you’re trying to sell someone a lawn mower, and you talk all about oh, how great he lawn mower is, and how lush the green lawn is going to be. The reality is, they are less interested in the lush green lawn, and they’re more interested in making the fat, judge-y neighbor next door, look at them and think, oh my God, this person is loaded! Right? Because it elevates their social status. So that’s where really the prestige switch comes in.
Believability; so, Believability Switch is…we all know that you need to convince the other person, you need to convince them about you. So, that’s all great, we all do it, but there’s one other added layer to believability that most people do not address, and I would encourage people to address it, especially when you’re trying to….honestly, when you’re trying to sell them anything, which is the added layer of making them believe in their own ability to get the results. Because yes, they believe you, they believe you’re product, they believe how great you are, but if they don’t believe in their own ability to get the results, then they’re not going to say yes to you. So if you really want to activate a ‘yes’ in their brains, then you will also have to make them believe in themselves. So that’s really a believability switch, which has three arms—believe in your product, believe in you, andbelieve in their own ability. Then, we have the urgency switch, which I don’t have to explain to you.
The Urgency Switch is, you know, just the need to give them a reason to act right away, because human beings are natural procrastinators. If you don’t give them a reason to act, they will not act. Then we have the curiosity switch, which again, is self-explanatory. Human brains absolutely detest an information gap. When they see an information gap, they need to fill it. So, if you want someone to act, you want to make sure you get over information gaps so they actually want to step in and close it. Then, honestly, the biggest reasons that I think my business has grown so fast, and the reason I think I am where I am is the edutainment switch, which is again, the idea that even if someone is reading your sales page or listening to your sales presentation, they should be enjoying it. They should not be like, oh my God, just get on with it. So you need to infuse humor and personality, and I’m not a naturally funny person. I have a list of jokes next to me when I’m doing a webinar, and it sounds really lame, but…
Rob: Wait! You have a list…you write out a list of jokes next to you so that you can make them while you’re talking?
Bushra: Yes! Dude, yes!
Rob: That’s such a…. I love that idea! I love that idea. So, like knock-knock jokes? Or…. no, I’m kidding. Laughs.
Bushra: No, no, no, really good jokes, laughs.Some of them are actually really good jokes. I don’t have them today because, you know, I’m respecting your audience, but when I’m doing—especially when I’m pitching, you know a webinar, because that’s when people start like, oh my God, get on with it, or they, you know, zone out. But when you have those small mini-stories and small jokes…. and one of my best tips in using edutainment is, because…you know people are like, I’m not funny, I’m like, it doesn’t matter if you’re not funny. You can just take one-liner jokes, and then just use them in context. So it could be anything, but it would, you know you can just use them. So as an example, one of the frequently asked questions on my sales pages with…everyone has that frequently asked question, which is like, will it work for me if I am…something. So, there FAQ on my sales page says, will it work for my if I’m a Buddhist monk porn artist, insert-unusual-occupation?Laughs.
Bushra: So, just a way of kind of taking the regular statements and just turning into making them a little bit funny, making them a little bit atypical, and I do that on purpose, because sometimes…we love our topics so much, we love our craft so much, that when we’re talking about it, sometimes we forget that, you know, we’re getting veryclose to being professionally boring. So I have that list always when I’m doing webinars; I have those jokes and one-liners. Most jokes are… Rob might not appreciate that, but the most jokes are basically, kind of, verbally abuse and absentia for my husband. So, just kind of make fun of him on anything; that’s the easiest one, so everyone now in my community knows him. They all call him the grumpy cat, because Icall him the grumpy cat, so I literally get emails with, like, I hope you and the grumpy cat are doing okay. Laughs.
Bushra: So, he does not appreciate that, but he isa grumpy cat! Anyway, so that’s kind of the edutainment thing, Edutainment Switch. Then, there’s a switch called Desirability Switch with again, something that you guys use a lot. The idea is when you kind of paint a picture, I think you call it future pacing?
Rob: Yes, future pacing.
Bushra: Future pacing. So the idea is how the next 365 days or the next three months look like if they say yes to this. And how will it look like if they say no to this. So, that’s where kind of you activate the desirability switch, where you paint a picture and talk about, okay, how your future is going to be different. And then, kind of just paint a picture—imagine this, the typical way you could future pace would be, you know, you paint the picture of a life after.
And then the last one is the Relatability Switch, which again, I think the second reason why my business has grown so fast, and I’m blessed with such great grand loyalty, is because I tried really hard to come across as relatable, and again, it is based on the psychological principle called the perk effect, where the idea is that human beings who appear less than perfect or considered more likeable; people can relate to them more. But the more perfect you appear—the more flawless you appear—people might be impressed by you, but they do not like you as much, so if you want to enhance your likeability factor, it makes sense to share the not-so-perfect aspects of your life, just to come across as less than perfect. So, that’s something that I consciously work on, and honestly I don’t have to work too hard. Laughs.
Bushra: My office? My office is in a freaking closet, dude; I don’t even have to work hard on doing the relatability thing! So yeah. Those are the kind of eight psychological switches: the vanity switch, the prestige switch, the believability switch, the urgency switch, curiosity switch, edutainment switch, and desirability switch.
Bushra: Okay, sorry. And the last one was…. what was the last one? Yes—the Relatability Switch.
Kira: Relatability. Okay. These are awesome. So, I’m going to dig into a couple of these I love the idea about having your jokes on the side during a webinar because I think Rob and I… Rob, we need to do that. We need to get our jokes ready next time we host a webinar.
Rob: Are you saying I’m not funny enough without? Laughs.
Kira: No, no, no, I’m saying both of us. Both of us, together. We can do this.
Kira: So, going back to curiosity, and you mentioned open an information gap, because your customer will want to close that gap. Can you provide an example of how we can do that, or what’s worked well for you?
Bushra: So I think the only way I would explain is to make a statement that makes people go, oh my God, what? If you can get thatstatement that reaction, then you’re good. So I think one of my highest opening subject lines was, Nothing Like the Smell of Horse Sh— to Start the Day. And, the reason is like, what did she just say? And then, you know, you open it, and because it creates that whatreaction, now people expect that from me but if that’s not your brand, then you can do anything, you know. One example that I give a lot is a subject line that says, This is How Your Own Mother is Selling You Out. So when you use a statement like this, people are like, what? My own mother? Because that is such an unexpected statement to make. So I think the way I would use the curiosity switch is to stay away from a lot of Buzzfeed-type posts.
Bushra: You Won’t Believe What Kira Had for Lunch!! You know? Laughs. Stay away from the Buzzfeed-type posts, and instead focus more on the get, so when you write a subject line, just odd, an opener…use them in the copy or whatever…just go for that reaction. Does that get that Oh my God, what? If you can get that reaction, then it does create an information gap, because people will want to close it.
Kira: Okay. And then, back to edutainment, you do that really well. I also feel like I’ve heard somewhere along the line that, as a copywriter, you need to be careful not to entertain too much in your copywriting because your customer can get distracted, and almost like lost in the entertainment, and then not driven to actually buy or purchase.
Bushra:Yeah. Yeah, i actually do agree. I call it the curse of the cute copy.
Bushra: You know, right? So there’s so much cute copy where like, every sentence is darling, and love and lovely, and…I don’t know, farting elephants. And it’s just so, you know, you kind of distract from the subject matter. So the way that actually do this is I use it—especially when I talk about a sales page—I like to use it to break the pattern. It’s like I said, it’s a regular, frequently asked question, but like, one question in the frequently asked question is, what if I’m a Buddhist monk, or a porn artist? You know? The other great place to use it is when your bio, because that also activates the Relatability Switch—it’s edutainment,and Relatability Switch. So I always use a bunch of edutainment there. Also, not turn yourself into a clown, but use it as a burst of energy in an otherwise boring narrative, whether it is online, whether it is written, whether it is….you’re doing a webinar, you’re doing a video, you’re doing an interview… So like I just said, you know, I was talking about an example—cute copy—and I just threw in the word farting elephant.
Bushra: It does not distract from the core conversation; the point that I’m trying to make is there, but if you have to choose a word, then you can choose a word that’s a little atypical, and the word that would be funny or interesting. So yes, I do agree that if the copy’s too cute, it does distract from the core argument, because again, you’re building a sales argument; you want them to focus on being sold to, but those energy punches actually keep them reading on more because it is interesting to read.
Rob: Well, I think it comes down to the audience as well. I mean, you can use some kinds of entertainment in talking to, say, a group of copywriters that would fall completely flat talking to a group of bankers, right? I mean, there are probably millions of variations on that, so it really depends on who you’re talking to and what you can say.
Bushra: I agree and I think the best switch to test—and thank you so much for bringing that up, because it my past life, oneof my past lives because I have apparently way too many past lives, but one of my past lives I was an accountant. And I remember that, when you are presenting to a customer, it does not get any more boring than this. Like, accountants are like the epitome of boringness, and I remember that there’s this industry joke, and I will use it, and every time I used it—every timewith jokes, it would light up the atmosphere, and just kind of make it more flyable for whatever I’m trying to sell to them. So you can use industry jokes. The industry joke that I used to use was, what to accountants use for birth control? And the answer, their dead personality. So… laughs.
Bushra: So, so you know, yes! Even though you would think that it won’t work, it actually does work, because everyone laughs out loud, and like….because that’s true. And I’m an accountant. I’mmarried to a damn accountant. So I am in the best position to say that.
Rob: Yeah, you guys are never going to have kids if you’re not careful, so…laughs.
Bushra: Oh no, we actually havetwo kids. And you should listen… dude, we’re so funny.
Kira: Laughs.I believe it. So, I was just going to ask, you know, if there are eight switches, if copywriters could just focus on one, because it can feel overwhelming. I want to use all of them because I know they work, but I’m working on a sales page—which one should I focus on first?
Bushra: Prestige, hands down. No matter what you’re selling, if you can position it as something that will elevate their social status, absolutely. I would go hands down, prestige, and then if you’re in a crowded market, then the second would be vanity. Because there is no way you can sell in a crowded market unless you draw a very key comparison between why you are the way you are, and why you’re better than everyone else. So, hands down, these are the two that I would focus on.
Rob: I look at the list, and it’s hard to choose just one or two, right? The one that resonates with me a lot is believability, and credibility. Because proof is such an important part of so many of the things that we write about. So, I wonder…I think in your book, you share frameworks for each of them that are swipe-able and, you know, you can sort of use them but, as far as believability goes, like, maybe just walk us through a little bit: how would we use believability in a simple way to help our readers—our potential buyers—believe what we’re saying in a sales message.
Bushra: I have a really simply swipe-able formula for the believability, and again, so there are three arms to believability. You need to have them believe in you, you need to have them believe in the product, and then you need to have them believe in their own ability. And that is the one that sums up most people because, honestly, when you’re selling a product, you know, you have testimonials and social proof and evidence that the product works. You also have your reasons to believe as to why you’re the right person, but what sums people up mostly is, okay, how can I convince them that they can actually do it? They are capable of doing this? And, what I’ve found is the best way to do that is to use the two magic words: even if.
And, I have used it over and over again; I talk about it all the time. No matter what massive claim you’re making, when you’re promising them a result, don’t just promise them a big result that might seem impossible to them, because you have to understand—if someone is eighty pounds overweight, and you tell them that they canactually look like a swimsuit model in six months, in might be possible. But she does not believe in her own believability. So when you throw in these two words—even if—even ifyou have never stepped foot in a gym; even ifyou can not bare the thought of letting go of your favorite bread or pasta or whatever… These two words, even if, are meant to address all of our mental farts around why she can’t get it, right? She cannot have the results. So really, the best way to do that is to use even if, and do it prominently. Whenever you make a big result-based promise, always, always, always include even if.
Kira: Okay, I love that. So, I want to just fast-forward. We started with your story of how you kind of had this instant success. What does your business look like today? Do you have a team, now? I’m guessing that you quit consulting a long time ago.
Bushra: I actually did not quit consulting a long time ago. I wasn’t sure—I have really low self-esteem and so, it took me a really long time to decide that, okay, I think the business is going to work. So I actually quit my business after I made my first million dollars. I quit two years ago… Yeah, actually March! It’s March, so I quit exactly two years ago. The business does not have a big team; I only have one person who works with me, and now I have a finance person because it was becoming too big I didn’t know any of my numbers, I still do almost everything on my own; I write all my own copy, I do all my own design, I have a few support staff here and there, when needed, but the only people who are full time with me is Chara who’s my assistant, and I have a finance person. The business is multiple seven figures. It’s doing really well, it takes all of my time; I love the business. I don’t do one-on-one work anymore. It’s mostly courses, coaching, and software, but it’s doing really well.
Rob: I love hearing how well you’re doing, but I want to ask: where have you stumbled? What are the things that you’ve done that haven’t worked, or what failures have you had as you’ve grown your business to this phenomenal success?
Bushra: Lots and lots of things; lots and lots of things. But for me, I don’t really look at it as a failure; I always look at it as, okay, this is what did not work, so this is how I’m going to change. So as an example, the most recent one I will tell you about. So, I was like, I thought of this great software idea, and I was like, you know what? I just—so I just launched it, it sold really well; people loved it, and I was like, okay, now I’m just going to create tons more software. But it did not work out that way, because I have zero tech knowledge. I have no idea how software works, and it’s virtually impossible to get someone to craft software when you have no idea what you’re talking about. So I stumble a lot, but what I prefer doing is, when something does not work, I don’t just ditch the whole thing. I take parts of it that work, and then everything else, I will just…I say that a lot, my business is held together by duct tape and prayers. So, I literally just duct tape things together, then just throw them out there and see what happens. So if you were to talk about failures? I would say, about 50% of the things that I did that are true failures. I had three massivelaunches where the moment I opened the cart, the website crashed. And I knew—I knewit was because I was using a sh—ty hosting company, because I was too lazy to change hosts. I found out, and I, still, three months ago, I did a webinar, I did half the webinar, all done…and, halfway in, I look at my phone and realize I’m on mute. Like these are things that happen to me like, once a week, regular. And I’ve lost count of how many times, but I don’t look at them as failures. I look at them as, okay, so it did not work. Whatever. Now let’s move on and see what else could work.
Rob: I like that approach. One other thing, before we wrap up, that I want to touch on Bushra… you’ve done a really good job of building your own authority and your own credibility. I think you’ve had writing up here in Forbes and Fast companies, some other big publications. I’m curious what you did in order to get yourself on those platforms?
Bushra: So, I have a very similar formula, a simple approach. I have always used it. Even when I had a corporate blog, this is exactly the system that I use. Even now, I use the exact same system. This is how I got into CopyHackers. And the way I do this is through Twitter. So, go on first, make a list of people that you want—and I know that people are all about, oh, you should, you know, have someone connect you with someone… I am not very social; I also don’t like people very much, so, I don’t have a lot of people connecting me to other people. So the process that I use it, look at the publication that you want to get published in, and then, look at the editor; follow them and everything. All the writers, if they take guest posts, follow them on Twitter, engage with them. Get on their radar. And then, if they’re taking submissions, send them an email. I have a very successful script for guest posts…yeah. And it kind of gives you the process that I use, so it can help you find these blog posts and how to find the names of the emails of the editors. So again, the hard way. I don’t have an easy way. But when I started, the very first three weeks that I started my business, I approached twelve websites for guest posts.
Bushra: I heard back from, I think, eight or nine of them, and I wrote alleight, nine guest posts in one weekend, and all of them failed! The onlyone that got traction was the guest post from Copy Hackers. Every other one was a big, fat, doo-doo. Nothing came out of it. But, I still did it. So, definitely it’s a numbers game. You have to keep doing it. And then, same protocol for blogs—I got picked up by Forbes. I got picked up by Fast companies. Same thing; I just went to the editors, I engaged with them; I sent them pitches after pitches and pitches, and then eventually, you know…something would work.
Kira: Wow. Okay. So Bushra, I still have a bunch of questions that I want to ask you, but we are out of time. So, please come back again because we want to ask you all these questions.
Bushra: I would love that.
Kira: So, in the meantime, where can our listeners go to found out more about you, and your programs?
Bushra: Okay, so, just go to the website. It’s called thepersuasionrevolution.com. I’m also tempted to say, just Google me, but since I am not Kim Kardashian, I will just say, go to thepersuasionrevolution.com. It’s my home base; everything just stems from there.
Kira: Thank you Bushra; this has been really incredible, and thank you for sharing all of your switches with us. It’s been really, really helpful.
Rob: Yeah, it’s been great. Thank you.
Bushra: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you somuch, Rob; thank you so much Kira. It was an utter pleasure. Thank you so much for having me; thank you.
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