Week 3: Landing Page
Welcome to Week 2 of the Momentum Builder Workshop (Lean Edition).
We’re experimenting with a few new teaching formats in this workshop. Weeks one and two were mostly screencasts so we could show and explain a few critical concepts (the thematic arc and framing).
This week we’re introducing a new approach which we think will make our teaching as effective as possible for the remaining content. The ingredients are:
- Visual representations (the 30,000′ view).
- Concise written narrative (approximately 1,500 words — no one has ever accused us of writing too little, however).
- Unscripted audio narration of us discussing the visual and the narrative after we’ve created the content (approximately 10-30 minutes and again, no one has ever said our conversations were too short).
(Head nod to Francis Miller’s brilliant work on organizing knowledge with multi-level content. He inspired this structure.)
We deeply appreciate your feedback — let us know what you think about the various formats (by email or in the comments).
OK, let’s get started by orienting ourselves to a couple of key concepts.
First, every piece of content you create for this workshop is informed by a congruent thematic arc that provides a central, controlling idea for your audience to follow.
The thematic arc is the home base you can return to as the writer, and it’s a way for your prospects to orient themselves as readers (subconsciously). We ‘hang’ our ideas, one by one, on the thematic arc.
We know at the beginning of this journey where it leads, and the thematic arc connects each step of the way to the outcome we have already created (for example, a product, service, idea, etc.).
Second, the entry point into the customer journey is your Facebook ad which sets the frame for everything that follows. The frame defines what’s possible in your world (and what isn’t), what matters (and what doesn’t). The frame pulls your ideal prospects forward and repels others (ideally before they even enter your world).
The Facebook ad also has two built-in actions that create micro-commitments for your prospects. The first is clicking “see more” on the ad to read the copy, and the second is clicking on the ad’s call to action to visit a landing page.
Those micro-commitments are important because they’re setting up a very significant (and more psychologically demanding) commitment (sharing their primary email address after reading the landing page, as opposed to a BS “throwaway” one they keep for marketing purposes in exchange for the ‘free prize’ on the other side of the opt-in).
That’s the context for this week’s lesson.
We know the theme, and we’ve set the frame. Next, it’s all about creating context that we establish (and therefore control).
The landing page’s job is to describe a compelling view of your world that leads your audience to want even more — but not because you’re offering a bribe (like a lead magnet).
Instead, your ideal prospects are drawn to you because you’ve created meaningful tension in their lives.
Quoting author Robert Fritz, “tension seeks resolution.” The path to resolve the tension you’ve created in your Facebook ad and your landing page is through the opt-in to find out what’s next, what’s through the door.
What does that tension feel like to your prospect?
How does it motivate them to keep progressing step by step toward you and your ideas?
We’ll explain that in detail below.
(Pause here for a moment and take a deep breath. Why? Because what you’re feeling is the tension we described in the paragraph above. We set up an idea that’s important for you to grasp for this lesson — “what does tension feel like?” — which caused you to pay attention. Then we made an explicit promise to explain that idea later. That’s one of the simplest ways to create — and experience — tension. There are other ways to create tension for your readers, too, of course…
…and yes, that’s also an example, this time of an implicit promise — what are those other ways? — creating and resolving tension never stops being fun…)
OK, back to this week’s lesson.
Here’s our framework for landing page ingredients (in order of priority, not necessarily how prospects will experience the flow through those ingredients):
The Organizing Question. Borrowing an idea from the late Stephen Covey, “begin with the end in mind.”What does someone need to know, believe, internalize, or accept before s/he (desperately) WANTS to step through the door we’ve created with our call to action when it’s time to opt-in?
This (burning) question informs the entire landing page narrative.
The answer to that question is the promise that the landing page begins to deliver (but not entirely because we want to pull the right prospects forward into our email sequences after the opt-in).
It may seem counterintuitive to start at the end, but trust us, we’re doctors.
(Pro tip: the organizing question you’re answering with your landing page should relate directly to the most important promise you make in your offer. Remember, you know where this journey leads, but the prospect does not.
We want the landing page to attract prospects who are ideal candidates for the offer we’ll make later in the customer’s journey. We’re speaking to and amplifying that desire now — but we’re not completely resolving that underlying tension for several days until prospects can finally buy something.)
Hook / Thesis Statement. The hook is the big idea that drew their attention from the FB ad. Whatever you wrote to capture your ideal prospects’ attention needs to be present immediately on the landing page to continue the narrative seamlessly and reinforce congruence.
We don’t want a prospect to feel lost or confused in the brief transition between the ad and the landing page (and this happens ALL the time). The focus narrows to a thesis statement (we’ll present a few examples in the audio section of this lesson), which is the setup for the body of the landing page. Thesis statements don’t need to be explicit, although they certainly can be.
The Body. Here we outline the narrative’s main content that provides explanation, evidence, and/or how-to educational content. We’re formulating a step-by-step case to demonstrate and support our thesis statement.
The body can be a mixture of narrative, stories (about you and your customers), and proof points. Whatever it takes to establish the beliefs necessary so that what you’re asking someone to do next (the opt-in) is the next logical step in a journey they WANT to take (no ‘ethical bribe’ needed).
The Call to Action (CTA). Once again, the visual shape of the structure (image below) can be helpful here. This time the triangle is on its base with its point at the top. The triangle point is where we restate (not necessarily explicitly) our thesis statement, then broadens back out to our CTA (the door we want some people to want to open and run through, but not everyone).
(In fact, one strategy is to present the CTA as a “by the way” sort of thing. It is almost as if you’re suggesting this probably isn’t for them because they’re most likely like everyone else, which means this won’t be a good fit. That pushing away posture can be a very (very!) powerful attracting force. We riff more on this on the audio piece.)
Two helpful questions to think about from the readers’ perspectives for our CTA to answer/address are: SO WHAT? and WHY SHOULD I CARE?
A useful visual structure we’ve found is a triangle at the top (the narrow point at the bottom) of a rectangle that is balancing on the point of another triangle. This is meant to be broadly useful as a way to think about narrative flow, but don’t get hung up on the details. This is not a formula; it’s a framework and John McPhee-style idea of narrative nonfiction structure useful for our purposes.
It’s important to understand the idea that the effectiveness of a landing page narrative is in the oscillation of rising tension (anticipation for more), the release of that tension (but never completely). The narrative climax is our CTA, where relieving that tension is (wanting!) to go through the door.
Pro tip exercise: most marketers and creative professionals build landing pages from their own perspectives. The underlying idea is, “What tricks, hacks and gimmicks can I use to persuade and coerce people to move through my mouse-trap?”
Don’t do that. There’s a much better way.
Here’s the exercise:
- Write the landing page narrative using the ingredients explained in our landing page framework above. Don’t overthink this part — just follow the guidelines and put words on the page.
- Then, write (or voice record) a separate narrative from the point of view (POV) of Raymond (Ray) or Joanna (Jo) — who represent your ideal prospects — as they interact with the content you’ve created.
For example, read your hook, then adopt the persona of Ray or Jo and ask, “who cares?”, “why is that important?” or whatever else you’re thinking (from their perspectives).
Be ruthless, and don’t allow yourself to be satisfied with the first easy edits. When you ask “who cares?” your first (second, third, and probably fourth) answers won’t be that meaningful.
You’ll know when you dig deep enough that you’ve really answered your POV characters powerfully. (You’ll feel it, like something just ‘clicks’. Hard to explain, but you’ll know when it happens.)
The prospect POV is for your eyes only.
Think about it like one of your ideal prospects is reacting to your writing in real-time. You’ll be amazed by how revealing it is. This exercise will highlight potential sticking points, and it will (eventually) reveal a congruent path through your content that pulls and tugs in the right way (by design).
Write (from your perspective), generate feedback from your imaginary prospects’ viewpoint, then edit your original writing. We know this sounds a little crazy (OK, … a lot crazy), but you can thank us later after you’ve done the exercise.
(Note: over time, the POV exercise will become second nature to you as a writer. Go through the process deliberately for now — later you’ll realize you adopt your prospects’ perspective naturally. That’s how we write by default.)
Here’s an example of what a POV exercise might look like.
Meet Jo: Customer POV (Third Person)
For this exercise, you will write a narrative story about a customer (Jo or Ray) interacting with your website.
Imagine who your ideal customer could be, then embody their POV.
What will she encounter first, second, third? Is the story your landing page is telling one that will resonate with her? What is she assessing, thinking about at each step?
Note: The narrative example below is vague about the specifics of the landing page elements because the landing page doesn’t exist. For you, however, your landing page will already be written, so your narrative will be far more specific (which is important for this exercise to be meaningful).
Jo is 51 years old from Swampscott, Massachusetts. She suffers from pain in her joints, but her doctor has said it is likely not arthritis. The joint pain isn’t constant. Some days are better than others, but many days are terrible. She has a desperate desire to solve this problem.
Jo first thought it was a good idea to consult with her GP because, after all, doctors know best. The doc promptly prescribed her a cocktail of drugs — Oxycontin for pain, Lorazepam for stress, Cyclobenzaprine as a muscle relaxer, and Prozac and Topamax as antidepressants.
So, powered by a body and mind numbed by pharmaceutical-grade drugs, Jo has been looking for a non-pharmaceutical solution for her pain problem.
She’s been searching for months. She’s interacted with all manner of websites, but none have ever attempted to understand her problem. There’s never any meaningful empathy expressed; it’s all buy-buy-buy…
- Sign-up For Our Free Pain Relief Webinar,
- Get Our Free Report on How To Cure Pain Relief Naturally.
… then boom, the inevitable hard sell email ‘gauntlet’, the same predictable climax to every mousetrap she’s interacted with. SHOW ME THE MONEY.
It’s Saturday morning; she’s on the porch with her laptop having her morning coffee, catching up on her social media friends on Facebook. Today is a good day so far.
Click, scroll, click scroll … then a post grabs her attention. The first sentence grabs her attention — something about it sucks her in.
Three truths about joint pain doctors don’t learn in medical school.
Jo clicks “read more” to expand the post, and to her surprise, she keeps reading.
It presents a different angle she’s not heard before. It resonates with her as if this post was written just for her by a friend. She doesn’t recognize the name of the author, but her heart rate kicks up a beat. Weird.
She clicks the link…
As Jo reads the article, her heart rate quickens even more, as if she’s doing a power-walk with the girls.
The tension the article is causing is like the gravitational pull of a black hole; she can’t help feeling sucked in — and excited. There’s a feeling of anticipation pulling her forward.
The article talks about stuff Jo has never read before, never seen presented in this way. Ideas her doctor should have told her but never did. The thought makes her angry.
And there’s excitement, too.
A tear unexpectedly runs down Jo’s cheek. She doesn’t have tissues to mop her damp cheek, and she doesn’t want to stop reading, so she uses her sleeve.
Jo had always believed what her doctor told her. But she can see she’s been too trusting, too gullible, and too blind to the politics of money-driven decision making.
She can feel her worldview shifting as if the foundations of her understanding are under attack by a magnitude eight earthquake. She dabs at her cheek again with her sleeve; tears flow freely now.
But they are not tears of despair or sadness; they are tears of joy and relief. Jo reads on because she is pulled on.
Why don’t more people know about this, she thinks? It is becoming obvious now. All her beliefs have been built on incorrect assumptions she had drawn from mass media and all the websites selling their BS solutions for symptoms that can never be cured, because the money is in treating the symptoms.
Now she is feeling mad. The tears have dried up. Now Jo’s cheeks have become blotchy from the rush of blood to her face.
She reads on.
The article ends, but she wanted more! There’s a form for her to enter her name and email for more. Jo’s all in! She mistypes her email twice in her rush, but gets it right on the third go.
Click, submit … whoosh!
Jo’s vibrating with excitement and tension (and she’s excited when she sees that the first email from us has arrived in her inbox — and surprised, again, when there’s no mention of buying anything…).
That’s the experience we want your ideal prospects to have. We’ve all experienced the rising and falling of tension while watching a movie or reading a good book.
We’ve all felt that impossible-to-describe sensation when we’ve suddenly internalized a new worldview and then, all of a sudden, our perspective changes in an instant (the ‘ah-ha’ moment that can’t be unseen).
That’s the experience we want to engineer for our ideal prospects. We’re not trying to coerce them step by step with big promises, free goodies, and fake scarcity.
We all know what that feels like too.
Instead, we’re taking our prospects on a journey towards something that’s meaningful to them, and we’re willing to do the work to earn their attention, trust, and respect.
Your homework for this week is to follow our guidelines (above) and create a draft of your landing page (approximately 1,500 words). Then do the POV exercise and improve that draft at least once (multiple rounds of improvements are better).
If you’d like us to consider your landing page for review / critique, please submit it (by email) before midnight, PST on Sunday, April 4.
Feel free to post questions in the comments below.
Finally, listen to the audio we recorded specifically for this week as well before you write.
Unscripted Audio Narration
Our audio conversation will only be useful after you’ve read this lesson, so read the lesson first.
Week 3 Feedback (April 7, 2021)
We reviewed the landing page from Yvonne Kiely. We kept the review as broadly valuable for everyone as possible.
Pay attention to our discussions on targeting, establishing a clear controlling idea, emergent structure, adding emotions, the “secret” Rule of Three principle, and call to action.
Post your questions below.
Post your questions below.— André & Shawn