Sales Letter Case Study: The Numinous School of Intuition

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 6.54.04 PMCarmen Spagnola (pictured here) is one of my favourite people in the world. 

We met years ago when she came to a workshop and we’ve been pals ever since. So when I was visiting Victoria to lead a workshop, I made sure we had some time scheduled together. I came over after my workshop at Victoria’s Sunset Room and Carmen and her husband Ruben kept my cup full of homemade Belgian style beer while I performed close up magic for them. A wonderful evening.

Over the course of the night, Carmen mentioned that she was launching a new program. I told her that I’d love to take a look at the sales letter for it. So, the next morning, with a far more severe hangover headache than I’d counted on, I read over her letter and tinkered on it. I was immediately in love with the simple and clean aesthetic of the page. So different than most sales pages I see. 

What follows below is the introduction of the original sales letter (with my commentary) and the rewrite I did (which she elegantly polished). It’s in the same format as last week’s post Sales Letter Case Study: The Coming Home Retreat. You can read the complete version of the letter here

Upon reading my rewrite, Carmen emailed me these words, “Tad, I re-read your re-writes dozens of times last night and I must say, the poetry, the language and phrasing…it’s such a tremendous gift you’ve given me. You captured exactly what I was striving for and it’s amazing how you mirrored what the course is like once you get inside. You are such a talented writer and storyteller! Thank you thank you thank you for this gift.” 

Sooooo… she liked it. It’s a rough job I did in an hour but I hope you will like it too. And maybe you’ll have ideas and reflections you could share in the comments below that will make it even better. I have no doubt that you will. 

You can find more info on her program here

 

ORIGINAL SALES LETTER

 

Me: “You know what I wish? I wish when I was starting out on my spiritual path, I’d had a better map. I wish there’d been something like…an orienteering course for the spiritual world.”

My Soul: “You should totally make that.”

I like this intro a lot. It’s charming and conversational. It’s creative. Starting with a conversation with her soul. Which also speaks to the content she’s about to get into. If people are turned off by the idea of a conversation with one’s soul, they certainly aren’t a fit for her. So the introduction both charms and filters in one deft move. 

I’m guessing you’ve been drawn here because you struggle at times with understanding the what and how of intuitive tools. I bet you’d like to have practical, tangible ways to tap into and trust your intuitive self.

This part feels a bit sales-lettery. And it’s in the second person, speaking directly to the reader instead of telling us a story. It’s personal, but maybe too personal and presumptive. I’ve written about this more in my blog post Nine Thoughts on Copywriting for Hippies.

I imagine you’d like clear action steps for how to actually do gratitude, meditation, angel cards or calling in help from “the greater forces”, or maybe some other thing you’ve heard can help connect you to your spiritual side.

Most likely you want someone to explain the foundational aspects of setting out on a path of spiritual growth, and breakdown the steps in detail.

Again. The above feels salesy. It feels like I’m being set up for a pitch. ‘I bet you want these things. And well, you’ve come to the right place!’ kind of thing. I feel resistant. She’s not offering or pushing but I’m already pulling back. I suppose part of it is that this feels suggestive in some way that I should want these things. I can’t put my finger on it but I’m recoiling subtly. And it feels generic. Non-specific. This feels like it could be anyone’s sales letter saying these things. This could lead people to say, ‘Been there. Done that.’

And I bet when someone pulls out their guitar for Kumbaya in the round, you die a little inside because New Age ‘woo woo’ stuff is just not your cup of tea. (And neither are materialistic “manifestation” schemes that dress up narcissism as spirituality. But I digress…)

I liked this! This had some spunk and personality and distinguishes her immediately from much of the new age crowd out there. 

BOTTOM LINE: YOU WANT SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE THAT IS GROUNDED IN PRACTICAL EVERYDAY LIVING.

Don’t you tell me what I want!

But you know what I think is really going on? I think you want clarity about how you can feel more traction in your life, have greater impact, and make the contribution you’re meant to in this lifetime.

Meh. This sounds generic. Traction? What is that? Greater impact? On what? How? Contribution? Everyone wants to contribute. Is this for me? I have no idea. What I’m not feeling laid out here is a clear sense that she really understands my problems or what I’m craving. 

I think you’d like to be less hard on yourself and more connected to your soul.

Hard on myself? Where did that come from? How is this related? And more connected to my soul. Sure? I guess?

I think you want to feel masterful with your mindset, energy, emotions, and evolution.

Whoa! Jargon alerts! And generic alert. What is she referring to? Where did the idea of being masterful come from? How is this connected to her approach and philosophy? What the what? 

I think you’d like to feel certain that you’re living this life the best you can and making the most of it.

Generic.

I think you’d like to feel satisfied that you’re giving all you’ve got and leaving nothing to waste. I want that for you, too!

I think you want me to buy your product. That’s what I think. This sounds like a generic motivational poster. Here’s where else I’m pulling back. She hasn’t mentioned that she’s selling something. But I know she is. So, it feels like a lot of set up right now that’s trying to build a rapport and connection… so that she can sell me. That feels a bit sneaky. 

 

END OF ORIGINAL SALES LETTER

 

She goes on from there to describe the program. Which sounds wonderful.

What follows are my tinkerings and her polishings. 

 

NEW SALES LETTER

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 7.17.11 PM

 

Me: “You know what I wish? I wish when I was starting out on my spiritual path, I’d had a better map. Better yet, I wish there’d been something like…an orienteering course for the spiritual world.”

My Soul: “You should totally make that.”

*

For many women I meet, and perhaps you’re like this too, spirituality and intuition play an important, and growing, part of their lives. With every passing year, they’re drawn to it more and more strongly.

I wanted to start with a story. The basic story of the women she meets and what she notices. We’re setting the stage for why she even feels a program like hers is needed. We’re foreshadowing where it came from – from noticing women like this. I also wanted to speak to the feeling of it growing inside of them. When we tell a story instead of pitching at people, they don’t defend. They relax. We give them a space to find themselves (or not) in our story. The words ‘and perhaps you’re like this too’ is an invitation not an assumptive description. 

I’m not talking about people into New Age ‘woo woo’ stuff or materialistic “manifestation” schemes that dress up narcissism as spirituality. Or those who use a language of spirituality to feel superior to others.

I wanted to move this earlier. In my blog post The Three Roles of Marketing, I wrote about how marketing is not really a seduction process as much as it is a filtering process. I want it to be so clear, immediately, who this is for and who it isn’t. I want her point of view and vibe start to show up. I want people to get that she isn’t flakey. 

The women I meet are drawn to ideas of making a greater contribution to the world, doing good work that’s in alignment with their values, simple living, sustainability, resilience, local food, community, the arts, and raising children as consciously as they can.

Again. We’re painting a picture of the kinds of women she most loves working with. We’re sharing her ideal client, perfect customers or avatar as many of my colleagues describe it. Instead of just saying generic things such as ‘they want to contribute and do good’ we list some of the key ways that would show up ‘simple living, sustainability, resilience, local food, community, the arts, and raising children as consciously as they can’. Details. We’re refining who she wants to work with. People who don’t resonate are starting to fade out. Those who see themselves in this description are beginning to lean in. 

These women see intuition not only as a tool that can help them make better decisions in their relationships, money or in their health but also, more profoundly, as a medicine that is deeply needed in this world. They suspect that if we all lived in a deeper alignment with our souls, that we’d take better care of our one, beautiful planet and all those who live on it. They long for the day when the world is full of people and cultures who revere the sacred and bring it into their daily lives, where it can guide them in their actions in meaningful and practical ways.

Again, we’re filtering. She is being clear that her program isn’t for women who are just interesting in learning to work with their intuition to serve themselves. She wants women who would resonate with the term ‘medicine’ (which evokes an indigenous perspective of the world) and it also begins to speak to the bigger why that Carmen is passionate about. She’s sharing what drives her. Women reading this who resonate with that bigger why will lean in more and resonate with the words. We bring in the idea of not only individuals but ‘cultures who revere the sacred and bring it into their daily lives’. She’s interested in women who think about the bigger picture. Women who might be interested in other cultures who live a different dream than the all-consuming American one. 

And many of these women, when they collapse in bed at night after a busy, productive day, say a silent prayer that they be shown some way that their lives can be the greatest contribution to this vision possible.

Here I am painting a picture and appealing to the senses. These are women who don’t just want to make a difference, they crave it. They yearn to find a way that their life can be of the most service possible. These women hurt at the world’s hurt. They don’t just want to learn intuition to make more money. They want to be living, walking, dancing medicine in their lives. They want to embody it daily. They want a world where this is true. 

May a good vision catch me
May a benevolent vision take hold of me, and move me
May a deep and full vision come over me, and burst open around me
May a luminous vision inform me, enfold me.
May I awaken into the story that surrounds,
May I awaken into the beautiful story.
May the wondrous story find me;
May the wildness that makes beauty arise between two lovers
arise beautifully between my body and the body of this land,
between my flesh and the flesh of this earth,
here and now, on this day,
May I taste something sacred.
~ David Abram

I added this poem because I love it and felt like it expressed the heart of her work. Consider adding quotes and poems to your sales letter. They often evoke emotions and feelings that most sales copy couldn’t touch.

They pray for signs. But, night after night, heartbreakingly, the signs don’t come. And so, when the morning sun rises their spirits fall and they find themselves walking back in step to the tick-tock world they were raised in. They begin to suspect that maybe it’s because there are no signs. And that no one is listening. 

This is where we’re trying to empathize deeply with their experiences and let these women know ‘we get it’. We’re giving them the important messages that they’re not alone and that they’re not crazy. 

Meanwhile, The Universe holds their vision close and precious, and tries its best to get through to them.

Carmen inserted this and I like it. 

SO I CREATED THE NUMINOUS SCHOOL

Boom. We’re getting to the point of the sales letter. The school. If you prolong the empathy piece too long, people can lose interest wondering, ‘what is the point of this?’ I tend to want to get to the point as fast as possible. 

It’s an online intuition development program, almost like a retreat, which I hope you’ll consider joining. It’s based on the idea that you have an important role to play in the unfoldment of a greater vision – and you already know, at a deeper, intuitive level – how to play that part. You just need to learn the language the Universe is speaking to you.

It’s designed for people like you who yearn for a world that embraces the sacred in daily living; who want to let their lives speak of that greater vision.

Simple. I think this is clear. 

The core issue this program addresses is a paradox most of us live with every day as we wake up in a world far, far different than the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible: we long to trust in Spirit, our souls, our intuition (however we define those things) but we don’t know how. We want to trust…but we don’t.

I think this is so much of the pain of our times.

I wrote this because it felt like the heart of her work and I wanted to state it explicitly. So much of marketing is making explicit and direct the things that, for us, are obvious. We imply them but don’t state them directly. In marketing, it’s vital to name the issue as we see it. 

Because, when we don’t trust ourselves we get drawn into someone else’s vision for us and for the world we live in. We forget who we really are and wake up one day living an unrecognizable life. We get stuck in unhealthy patterns in our families, our relationships, in our own heads. We take on too much. We miss opportunities. We wonder where the time is going and when we’re going to arrive someplace that feels more like home. We know something’s wrong, something’s missing, there’s something more…

And yet, we don’t trust ourselves to act on that knowing.

On my first reading of her sales letter, I realized that she was assuming that the reader understood the consequences of not trusting their intuition. And I wanted to make sure this was, at least, touched on. I would add a little more here on a future draft. Because, the real pain that Carmen’s work is addressing, the problem it solves, is not actually the lack of intuition. That’s her point of view. It’s her diagnosis of why they’re suffering. And distinguishing between the symptoms they experience and our diagnosis of that experience is so vital. The suffering has to do with the consequences of not following their intuition – naming those consequences is the difference between her course being relevant and irrelevant. 

Which is no surprise. We’ve grown up in a culture where guidance has always come from outside of ourselves; first from parents, then teachers and then our bosses. Intuition is a muscle that’s never had to be exercised – but it’s still there.

I wish when I’d grown up there had been a course on learning practical, tangible ways to tap into and trust my intuitive self. Oh the pain that would have saved me.

I wish I’d had mentors who could have given me clear action steps for how to actually do gratitude, meditation, divination, or maybe even things I’d never heard of before, that could help call in support from “the greater forces”.

I wish I’d had someone who could have sat down with me every day to explain the foundational aspects of setting out on a path of spiritual growth, and breakdown the steps in detail. Someone gentle and patient, who could have helped me be less hard on myself and more connected to my soul. Someone who could have helped me be more impeccable with my own mindset, energy, emotions, and evolution.

I wish I’d had spiritual guidance that was grounded in practical everyday living.

Here I did a fairly simple rewrite changing the ‘I bet you’d like…’ formula into a sharing of what she’d craved. Again, she’s telling the story of the craving that was alive inside of her that had her create this program. And that allows the women reading it to say, ‘me too. I’ve craved that too’. 

 

END OF NEW SALES LETTER

 

You can read the complete, finished version of this sales letter here.  

About Tad

  • What a fascinating case study. Thank you for the generosity of sharing it! There is a lot that so many people could learn from this.

  • hey osh! thanks. I’ve been really loving doing these lately. I’m so struck at how a few shifts in wording can take something from ‘selling’ to ‘story telling’.

  • Joseph Riggio

    Tad nice rewrite … clear, engaging and speaks directly to me as though I am present to the writer in person.

    Personally I don’t mind “salesy” writing if the writer calls it out as such, it’s when someone isn’t congruent in being salesy that I get the jitters.

    “Hey you need what I have and I’m going to tell you exactly why … if you’ll just give me five more minutes you’ll either agree … or simply put this down and walk away. In other words for an investment of five minutes you’ll know whether or not this is for you … if I’m for you or not … if not walk away, no hard feelings. If this is for you however it may indeed change your life. Is that worth five minutes to you?”

    Of course I’d like the specifics to be there … but I wanted to offer a generalized example.

    I’d be okay with that …

    In fact I like the honesty of it, and the directness too.

    I also like as a marketer that it funnels out people who don’t want that kind of “in your face” relationship.

    But it only works when the provider is congruent with that kind of “in your face” delivery, when they are anything less feels to me like ‘bait & switch’ when I show up somewhere having been sold by a nice, inviting, friendly sales letter … and the presenter is from NJ (like me ;) hahahahaha …).

    What I’m not okay with is the integration of “service” and “self-serving” when the writer/marketer/presenter is confused themselves … and it’s a difficult thing for many people to find the line between it seems.

    I know many people who truly desire to simply be of service while providing for themselves who have been sold the bill of goods that they have to follow the path of Internet marketing hype to succeed.

    So again nice rewrite, thanks for sharing it.

  • Joseph. I couldn’t agree more. Jay Abraham often does that very direct – ‘give me five minutes to make my case to you’. And I love it too. It feels so direct and respectful. Can you tell me more about this piece? “What I’m not okay with is the integration of “service” and “self-serving” when the writer/marketer/presenter is confused themselves”

  • Joseph Riggio

    Sure …

    There are those folks who aren’t at peace with the in your face self-serving, “Hey I’m here to make money” attitude of a Jay Abraham. BUT … they think they need to present themselves that way.

    On the other hand there are folks who are totally about “Hey I’m here to make money” BUT present themselves as all gushy, “I love you and I’m here just to serve” because they think they can hoodwink people and get away with it.

    Sometime this stuff works up front, i.e.: they get away with it and suck some folks in, but ultimately they can’t hold up their end of the bargain.

    I believe Jay gets that he can only be “self-serving” by delivering the goods on the promises he makes, and often does just that … so he’s been able to stick around for decades doing what he does, and he does it shamelessly.

    In making great money Jay delivers to others what they pay him for so he wins twice so to speak, by serving himself and getting to serve others.

    The same double win is available to those who first want to serve others too. They can indeed present themselves in a clean, upfront way about their desire to be of service first and foremost, without any shame or guilt about making a great living doing it.

    As I’ve followed your work you seem to be really connected to the later group in a unique and powerful way … helping those who truly want to help others to help themselves as well by doing just that … helping others.

  • Incredibly well said! i love that! would you be interested in writing a blog post about this for my blog? Such a great distinction.

  • Jenny Semeniuk

    Thank you so much for posting this letter! For some one who is so very new at this concept you’ve broken it down and spelt it out for me, while still managing to inspire. And also thank you for introducing many to such an amazing program, And sounds like an amazing lady! Can’t wait to sit down and work on some of my own material.

  • Thanks Jenny. And yes – such an amazing program. Carmen is the real deal.

  • Joseph Riggio

    Tad … be glad to … drop me a note off line and we’ll figure out what and when … thanks for the invite.

  • What a transformation! I really felt the difference in the level of interest I experienced between the before and after. The remake’s tone was much more in alignment with how I feel and my current experiences. I like the respectful, “I get where you are and how you are feeling, look how I can help” approach, vs the more generic and salesy approach of the first one.

    One suggestion, I clicked through to the sales page, first thing on the page is a video talking about the course, I was caught off guard with a video talking about the course upfront, I would prefer to be lead into it slowly. Maybe consider moving it with the text offering the course and replace with an attention grabbing statement or another type of introductory video.

    I am really grateful Tad that you shared this case study as I am in the works of putting together a program and have learned several things to avoid. (the commentary is very helpful). Thanks and much success to Carmen’s course!

  • hey genevieve! So glad you liked it. Great feedback on the video! Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Marin Toyama

    This was absolutely amazing. I love the comments you had about the original letter. As I was reading through, some sentences would hit me and some wouldn’t, but I didn’t always know why. You articulated why so well and then you went on to suggest other ways that were more authentic. Thank you for taking the time to post this!

  • so glad you enjoyed it :-)