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A Secret Sales Formula Hidden Inside The Wire

This literally just happened a few minutes ago.

I’m chilling out on the sofa watching re-runs of The Wire. As I’m watching a scene that I’ve seen at least 3 times before, it suddenly takes on a new perspective for me; a killer sales formula hidden deep within the show.

So I grabbed my phone, rewind the scene and hit record.

What Happens?

In the scene I’m talking about, reformed criminal Dennis “Cutty” Wise is trying to promote his new boxing club, but it’s not going well.

The youths that he’s trying to talk to start fighting. He’s in front of his target audience and they don’t wanna know.

But once the fight ends Cutty sees an opportunity to do something that all good salespeople do; help their audience for free.

NEWSFLASH: Good salesmanship (for a lack of a better word) should be a mutually beneficial experience – we gotta leave people feeling better informed than they began with, regardless if they buy from us or not.

*Climbs down from his soapbox*

So anyway, back to The Wire. When the fight has ended, Cutty steps forward and tells one of the kids that he “dropped his left”, which could have left him vulnerable against a more skilled fighter.

Then Cutty issues a challenge – and uses an emotional trigger to provoke a reaction. Now the kid is willing to learn something.

So Cutty teaches him a new fighting technique, leaving the kid and his friends impressed.

Now all that’s left for Cutty to do is to make a strong call to action, and invite the kids to his new boxing club.

Let’s break the scene down and examine what’s really going on here and how you can benefit from it.

This is a simple but very effective sales strategy. Cutty demonstrated that his methods work, and they’d be foolish to ignore his advice.

So how can you apply this to your business? I’ve got some good news for you.

If you’ve got a blog, or an email list, or a Youtube channel, or a podcast, basically if you’re creating awesome content then you’re probably already doing most of this.

The content you’re producing is acting as a demonstration. You’re sharing your knowledge and expertise for free, so others can benefit from it.

If you’re sharing stuff because you want to improve people’s lives, then you’re already half-way there.

We just gotta wrap it up in a few fancy layers to make sure people pay attention to it, and digest it properly.

The first layer of wrapping is possibly the most important, because without it nobody is gonna see the awesome stuff you’ve got for them inside.

The First Layer: Grab Attention

This is all about grabbing attention.

For this to land properly, you have to know who you’re speaking to. If you don’t know who your audience is, you’re screwed (#justbeinghonest).

And you gotta know at least one of these two things; either what they want to gain, or what they want to avoid.

Simple, right?

Now, when it comes to the Interwebs, the most effective way to grab the immediate attention of your audience this is by crafting a solid title, headline, or subject title.

You gotta make a bold promise to your audience. Give them a reason to click. But don’t jerk them around, if you’re gonna use clickbait or hyped-up headlines then you gotta deliver the goods.

If you don’t deliver then you’ll destroy any trust the audience has in you.

Trust is the most valuable commodity you can have online. It’s in short supply.

For that reason, along with just being a decent human being, you gotta crank-up their trust levels at every single interaction you have with your audience. Give them absolutely no reason to doubt you, so not only deliver on your promises, go the extra mile to over-deliver. Every. Single. Time.

We’ll get onto that a bit more during the third layer.

The Second Layer: Emotional Trigger

The second layer is to deploy an emotional trigger. In my opinion, its best to include the emotional trigger inside the title, headline, or subject line because that way it’s delivered immediately.

If you’re having trouble finding one, ‘curiosity’ could be your go-to emotional trigger because it’s incredibly powerful and pretty much everybody on the planet is susceptible to it.

Finding ‘a secret’, or little known tip and combining it with a promise is a good strategy for headlines.

Once you’ve got your bold promise, and an emotional trigger figured out, it’s onto the third stage; delivering value.

The Third Layer: Deliver Value

There are at least two ways to deliver value to your audience.

The first way is to give them actionable information they can quickly use to improve a situation.

The other way is to give them a demonstration.

Think about one of the times you’ve been to a supermarket. You’ve probably seen a little stall offering free samples of cheese or pizza, at least once?

You already know they ain’t giving you that stuff just to be nice to you, they’re giving you a free sample to demonstrate how nice the product is, and to ask you to buy more.

They also invoke the law of reciprocity.

What’s the law of the law of reciprocity? Do something nice for somebody and they will feel compelled to return the favour.

…And if that favour just so happens to be, I dunno, buying their product, that’s the quickest and easiest way for you to ‘give back’ those feelings being indebted to someone.

It’s a psychological urge that’s as much deep routed in our DNA as walking on two legs.

Ok, now for the final layer; the call to action.

The Fourth Layer: Call to Action

So far, you’ve grabbed the attention of your audience, you’ve made a bold promise that engages them on an emotional level and then you’ve demonstrated that you REALLY CAN help them.

Now its time to ask them to take the next step, and make a commitment to solve their problem.

This can be anything you like; to buy your product, to opt-in to a mailing list, to subscribe to your Youtube channel or Podcast, it’s totally up to you.

And that’s the basic formula that all content creators should be using to sell their stuff on the Internet.

Because it’s always worked offline, it will probably always will work online too.

And with this strategy, you’re leaving your marketplace in a better state than when you found it. Nice.

To Sum Up

  1. Grab attention 
  2. Create an emotional trigger
  3. Deliver awesome value
  4. Give a call to action

And hey, hopefully I’ve achieved all of these things inside this post (you be the judge).

So here’s my own call to action:

If you’ve liked this post then please pay to forward and share it with people who might benefit from it (they might even thank you for it?). 

And I’ve put some handy buttons for you here, so you don’t even have to scroll (#helpfulmarketing):