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A masterclass in sales persuasion

I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast a couple of weeks ago (one of my favourite podcasts). At the start of the show, he gave a pitch for one of his sponsors and I noticed he was using some powerful persuasion techniques.

In this post, I’m going to break down everything I noticed. But, before I do, here’s what Tim said in full:

This episode is brought to you by Wealthfront and this is a very unique sponsor.

Wealthfront is a massively disruptive – in a good way – set-it-and-forget-it investing service led by technologists from places like Apple and world famous investors.

It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and they now have more than $2.5B under management.

In fact, some of my very good friends, investors in Silicon Valley have millions of their own money in Wealthfront.

So the question is why? Why is it so popular? Why is it unique?

Because you can get services previously reserved for the ultra-wealthy but only pay pennies on the dollar for them. And this is because they use smarter software instead of retail locations bloated sales teams etc, and I’ll come back to that in a second.

I suggest you check out wealthfront.com/tim, take the risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you — for free — exactly the portfolio they’d put you in.

And if you want to just take their advice, run with it, do it yourself, you can do that.

Or, as I would, you can set it and forget it.

Here’s why: The value of Wealthfront is in the automation of habits and strategies that investors should be using on a regular basis but normally aren’t.

Great investing is a marathon, not a sprint, and little things you may or may not be familiar with – like automatic tax loss harvesting, rebalancing your portfolio across more than 10 asset classes, and dividend reinvestment – add up to very large amounts of money over a long period of time.

Wealthfront, as I mentioned, since it’s using software instead of retail locations etc. can offer all of this at low costs that were previously completely impossible.

Right off the bat, you never pay commissions or account fees. For everything they charge .25% per year on assets above the first $15,000, which is managed for free if you use my link wealthfront.com/tim. That is less than $5 a month to invest a $30,000 account, for instance.

Now, normally, when I have a sponsor on this show, it’s because I use them and recommend them. In this case, it’s a little different: I don’t use Wealthfront yet, because I’m not allowed to.

Here’s the deal:  They wanted to sponsor this podcast but, because of SEC regulations, companies that invest your money are not allowed to use client testimonials. So I couldn’t be a user and have them on the podcast.

But, I’ve been so impressed by Wealthfront that I’ve invested a significant amount of my own money – at least, for me – in the team and the company itself. So I am an investor and hope to soon use it as a client.

Now back to the recommendation.

As a Tim Ferriss show listener, you’ll get $15,000 managed for free if you decide to open an account, but just start with seeing the portfolio that they would suggest for you. Take two minutes, fill out their questionnaire, at wealthfront.com/tim.

It’s fast, it’s free, there’s no downside that I can think of.”

Here’s the breakdown

I’m going to put Tim’s words in blue and mine in black.

This episode is brought to you by Wealthfront and this is a very unique sponsor.

We’re programmed to pay attention to unique things. Unique things are scarce, and scarce things are valuable. So the word “unique” makes us more likely to pay attention.

Wealthfront is a massively disruptive

Disruptive is a positive buzz word in the tech/start-up world. Many of Tim’s listeners either come from that world, or are fascinated by it.

(in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service led by technologists from places like Apple and world famous investors.

Tim borrows the credibility of Apple and the venture capital scene – again, these are people his audience look up to. And, because we know Tim moves in these circles, it’s believable that he’d have insider information about this.

It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and they now have more than $2.5B under management.

If we know something is popular, then it has more credibility and appeal. Tim backs up the claim by stating they have $2.5bn under management.

Saying it has “exploded in popularity” doesn’t really mean anything. Specifics are far more persuasive.

That’s because, when you say it has $2.5B under management, that’s either true or a lie. And we don’t expect people – especially people we trust – to tell a lie like that.

In fact, some of my very good friends, investors in Silicon Valley have millions of their own money in Wealthfront.

Social proof is a very powerful motivator. When we’re unsure what to do, we look to people like ourselves – and to people we look up to  (or their friends) – and do what they do.

So the question is why? Why is it so popular? Why is it unique?

Repeating that it’s popular and that it’s unique. This is sometimes called “thinking past the sale” – we go from wondering IF it’s popular and unique, to asking WHY it’s popular and unique. And, to do that, we must agree with the premise that it’s popular and unique.

Because you can get services previously reserved for the ultra-wealthy but only pay pennies on the dollar for them.

This is the USP of the offer. “Previously reserved” gives it exclusive appeal. And, “pennies on the dollar” tells you the price is going to be low relative to what other people are paying. (As I’ve mentioned in past newletters, price is almost always subjective.)

Ultra-wealthy plays on the common belief that those at the top are getting a special deal.

“Previously” implies newness. And, again, we’re programmed to pay attention to news.

And this is because they use smarter software instead of retail locations bloated sales teams etc,

This is the “mechanism” behind the USP: they have lower costs. So many businesses make the mistake of saying they’re cheaper and leaving it there. The problem is “cheap” usually means “worse.”

In order to counter that assumption, you need to give a reason why you’re cheaper. In this case, it’s because of lower costs.

and I’ll come back to that in a second.

This is called creating an open loop. You’re now waiting on him coming back to that point.

I suggest you check out wealthfront.com/tim

This is the call to action. As we’ll see, he repeats it three times. I’ve heard Drayton Bird say that effective ads tend to ask for action three times.

take the risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you — for free — exactly the portfolio they’d put you in.

He emphasises how little effort is being asked for. He says it’s a “quiz”, he tells us it’s “free” and that it takes 2-5 minutes.

You’re far more likely to take the test knowing it’s 2-5 minutes, than if he hadn’t told you its length.

And if you want to just take their advice, run with it, do it yourself, you can do that.

By saying you can run with it, he’s telling us that there’s value in taking the quiz.

Gary Bencivenga – probably the most successful direct response copywriter in the last 30 years – based his approach on the principle “make your advertising in itself valuable.”

Or, as I would, you can set it and forget it.

Tim’s giving advice. He’s telling us what he’d do.

Here’s why: The value of Wealthfront is in the automation of habits and strategies that investors should be using on a regular basis but normally aren’t.

Explains why you probably can’t get the same result without it.

Great investing is a marathon, not a sprint, and little things you may or may not be familiar with – like automatic tax loss harvesting, rebalancing your portfolio across more than 10 asset classes, and dividend reinvestment – add up to very large amounts of money over a long period of time.

Tim lists a number of techniques you probably haven’t heard of. Again, this gives you the feeling that

  • You’re missing out on powerful techniques (And missing out on techniques isn’t something Tim’s fans want to be doing.)
  • This is complicated and you probably can’t do it manually.

Wealthfront, as I mentioned, since it’s using software instead of retail locations etc. can offer all of this at low costs that were previously completely impossible.

Repeating the mechanism, and, by saying it was previously “impossible,” which means it’s unique and new.

Right off the bat, you never pay commissions or account fees. For everything they charge .25% per year on assets above the first $15,000, which is managed for free if you use my link wealthfront.com/tim.

Names the price (which is very low) and the second incidence of the call to action.

That is less than $5 a month to invest a $30,000 account, for instance.

This is what Vic Schwab – who wrote the classic book, How to write a good advertisement – called getting the prospect to grasp the advantage.

Now, normally, when I have a sponsor on this show, it’s because I use them and recommend them.

The subtext is that Tim only has sponsors he believes in – he doesn’t hustle crap for the highest bidder. Which must mean he believes in Wealthfront.

In this case, it’s a little different

An attention grabber. What’s wrong with Wealthfront???

I don’t use Wealthfront yet

Yet implies, “Will use them in the future.”

because I’m not allowed to.

Ooohh, this is forbidden… saucy!

Here’s the deal:  They wanted to sponsor this podcast but, because of SEC regulations

Telling us Wealthfront is SEC regulated  – which means they’re credible.

companies that invest your money

Your money”: going beyond the sale.

are not allowed to use client testimonials. So I couldn’t be a user and have them on the podcast.

Again implying that he wants to be a user.

But, I’ve been so impressed by Wealthfront that I’ve invested a significant amount of my own money – at least, for me – in the team and the company itself. So I am an investor

Tim is known for being an early investor in Facebook, Twitter, Uber etc., so by saying he’s invested in Wealthfront, is a big positive statement.

and hope to soon use it as a client.

Again saying he’d use this himself.

Now back to the recommendation.

Again, he’s recommending them.

As a Tim Ferriss show listener, you’ll get $15,000 managed for free if you decide to open an account, but just start with seeing the portfolio that they would suggest for you. Take two minutes, fill out their questionnaire, at wealthfront.com/tim.

It’s fast, it’s free, there’s no downside that I can think of.

The third instance of the call to action. Again, he emphasises the low commitment being asked for: Just two minutes and that that means it’s fast. Also it’s free and there’s no downside.

Summary

I’d put what Tim’s doing into 6 categories:

#1: Benefits/Uniqueness

#2: Proof

#3: Making the next step seem easy (“free”, “2 to 5 minutes”)

#4: Scarcity

#5: “NLP stuff” – open loops, presuppositions

#6: Repetition

Think about how you could add those into your web pages, emails, ads … and face-to-face or on the phone. I’m sure you’ll see your sales increase.

Or, alternatively, you could hire a copywriter to do it for you. (Does anyone know a copywriter?)

All the best,

Steve Gibson

 

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