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The Art of The Start

You’ve spent days fine-tuning your long-form sales pitch. It’s been tough work but the finished product looks good.

Can’t celebrate yet— there’s one more thing we have to nail: the pitch’s opening.

The opening really matters and to illustrate this point let me share a personal story.

As I was getting onto the treadmill I was also scrolling Netflix to find my workout entertainment.

Stumbled onto Smurfs 2.

Smurfs 2 nails the art of the start

Even though I instinctively hit play my brain was considering other available options. I had 1 foot out the door.

Near the top of the movie, I must’ve heard a joke that got a chuckle— but I still wasn’t all in.

5 minutes later, the universe of Smurfs started to come alive.

Very soon I was in too deep to pull out.

The first 10 minutes made all the difference. Had they not hooked me I would have abandoned.

But I ended up watching the whole movie.

Only a few days earlier if someone wondered about my interest in Smurfs 2 I would have said: “somewhere close to 0.”

The difference was the art of the start.

Why Art of The Start Matters

A majority of your paid traffic will not return (only 32% of site visitors return). This means you have one shot to connect with and persuade this potential buyer— an audience you’ve paid good money to reach.

We’ve worked with 100s of eCommerce sites and spoken with 100s of eCommerce founders. They have amazing origin stories. Your own story is amazing also, I’m sure.

But if the shopper stops reading after the second sentence you are going to lose the sale. It would not matter that you have gold in the 4th paragraph. It wouldn’t matter because no one would get that far.

This is why the opening needs to be super strong.

Two Art of The Start Mechanisms

There are two ways to develop a killer opening:

1: Crafting a strong opening

This isn’t easy. But with a lot of practice, you can do it. The trick is to write your long-form sales pitch and then every day work on polishing the opening. Space each editing session 24 hours apart and I promise by 5 days you’ll have a really good opening.

2: Priming

If you don’t have 5 days, we have a nifty trick for you.

Imagine you are selling a tooth-whitening kit.

Tooth whitening kit. The art of the start

What can we guess about the person who clicks on your tooth-whitening kit ad? We can guess that they are somewhat interested in whiter teeth.

We also know only 2.35% of ad traffic will buy.

So two forces are at play: at one level the shopper has some interest in solving the problem (this force is pushing them towards taking out their 💳). The other force— the stronger one— is a cocktail of reasons to not buy (this is the force that’s shoving the credit card deeper into the pocket):

“Do I really need a tooth-whitening kit? I’ve lived without one so far.”
“How much time will I need to invest in this?”
“Can’t I just wait a few weeks to buy? What’s the rush?”
“How do I know this is a good deal? I should look at other options too”

The opposing force has a lot more power. The reality is that this isn’t the first time this buyer has landed on a tooth-whitening kit site. They have probably seen and clicked other ads in the past— and not bought for the same set of reasons listed above.

But the fact that they interacted with an ad in the past, didn’t buy, clicked on your ad today, means they have a strong preference for whiter teeth. To appeal to that side of their buying persona I’d show a statement like this at the top of my long-form sales pitch:

How important is finding the right teeth-whitening solution for you? {A little} {Quite important} {Very important}

While nearly no one will click the

{A little} button, most will either click {Quite important} or {Very important} buttons

And when they do, show this content:

We’re really glad teeth whitening is something you care about. It’s a huge passion item for us too. Unfortunately, most people who want whiter teeth leave in 30 seconds.

If you are willing to 2 minutes with us today we promise we’ll make it worth your time. 120 seconds is all we need.

What happened here? Because of the Priming statement, the shopper has made a commitment to hang around for 2 minutes.

Once shoppers make a commitment they work hard to stay consistent with that choice.

This psychological phenomenon has a name, it’s called consistency theory.

And because we used the 2-minute criteria as the commitment request this shopper will stay longer than they would have without it.

Why the marketer wants the visitor to stay longer— because the marketer knows time spent reading the sales pitch directly correlates to a higher probability of converting.

Next Steps

Nailing the opening was Troubleshooting Step 1. Now you need to look into Troubleshooting Step 2.

If this is the first article you are seeing on our site you need to head here: Marketing Secrets.

Comments 6


Love this, but what if the product is unique and nothing like it is out there?

avatar post author

Then this copy formula will not work. For that situation, you need this: https://frictionless-commerce.com/blog/product-story-how-to/



The new product introduction that you added is clever indeed. Though my day-to-day work doesn’t involve product descriptions, I still love to read your articles. I get to learn the science and art of copywriting. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
BTW, if you ever stumble upon time machine someday please do let me know. Promise I won’t tell anyone 🙂

avatar post author

Done. It’ll be our secret 🙂



When is your app going to be ready?!

avatar post author

It’s being beta tested. Should be live soon.



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