Ian Pullen

Your sales page should be an itinerary, not a map

When you create a sales page for any of your products, the copy should lead the reader through the page like a travel itinerary.

While writing some supporting information for the Sales Page Assessment Process, I hit upon this idea.

The idea that a sales page should be like a travel itinerary and I wanted to explore that a little more.

A common approach to sales page building by new, and perhaps many not so new, business owners is to create sales pages that contain a list of “essential” elements.

These include things such as and in no particular order:

  • Headline and introduction
  • Social proof/testimonials
  • Guarantee
  • FAQs
  • Case studies
  • About the business owner
  • Offer stack
  • Call to action

I’m sure there are other elements we should include in that list, but it’s just to give an idea of how there are multiple elements that should be addressed.

The map approach

Once armed with a list of elements to add to a page, many a business owner will find a page template they like and then start shoehorning the various bits into suitably sized parts of the page.

When these elements are treated as independent bits that don’t flow or lead into each other, it feels like the page is presenting a map to the reader.

Imagine you’ve landed in Rome at 8 am one morning and, for whatever reason, your flight out isn’t till 10 pm that evening. You’ve got the best part of 12 hours to kill in one of the most historical capital cities in Europe.

If I give you a map of Rome and usher you out of the airport, you may have a fantastic and rewarding day.

By the time you return to the airport, you may be grinning ear to ear, having seen the big attractions of the city and perhaps even chanced upon some fascinating experiences off the usual tourist routes. You can’t wait to return to Rome again.

Alternatively, perhaps you headed straight to the Colosseum and got to chatting with another tourist who told you about a wonderful attraction you really must visit.

Unfortunately, you misheard the bus number and almost an hour later, you’ve reached the end of the line in a run down suburb on the outskirts of Rome.

Fortunately though, you come upon a little cafe with an English speaking owner. Upon hearing your plight, the owner enlists a customer to drive you back into the center of Rome. A little while later you’re dropped at the Vatican City.

Unfortunately, after the car that brought you has gone round the corner, you realize you’ve left your bag with passport and wallet in the car.

And so you spend the next six hours desperately trying to get reunited with your belongings, by which time you just return to the airport and wait for your flight.

Rome is a hell hole you never wish to see again.

The itinerary approach

If I’d given you a carefully researched and thoughtfully presented itinerary, I could all but guarantee you had a wonderful day in Rome.

It leaves nothing to chance and presents you with everything that I think is essential to see in 12 hours in Rome.

I can control your experience to the point that by the time you return to the airport, you’re infatuated with the city. You’re trying to speak Italian to the check in staff. You don’t want to come back to Rome to visit again in the future – you want live there!

You should approach a sales page with the same thought process.

It should be a carefully considered and crafted journey from the headline down to the call to action.

Failing to take full control of the reader’s journey down the page means your leaving things to chance. You’re letting the reader form the narrative.

Can’t the reader pick what they need to read

Maybe you’ve read that and you’re thinking your reader knows what they need to read.

They’re smart enough to scroll the page and focus on those elements that address the important issues to them. The ones that they need covered before they commit to buy.

On the surface that sounds fair, but I don’t think any of us are that smart.

How do we know the reader’s unconscious mind doesn’t have it’s own agenda?

The reader may consciously be telling themself that they want to do something, but we lie to ourselves constantly.

Who hasn’t told themself that next week I’ll start eating healthily, or I’ll get up an hour early and go to the gym before work, or I’ll only drink two glasses of Chardonnay with breakfast.

Maybe the reader will just skip through the page, paying lip service to the whole process so they can tell themselves at the end that this isn’t right for them.

It’s not that far-fetched.

If you create an itinerary and guide them through your journey, they’re going to learn everything they need to know about your offer.

I think it was Joe Sugarman who described the headline and introductory paragraphs of a sales letter as being dedicated to getting the reader onto the slippery slide of the copy. I’ve paraphrased somewhat, but the idea is that once you get the reader reading, you’ve got a chance of getting them to read the whole page.

Ultimately the result may be the same, but if you present a coherent and integrated page, you know you’ve done all you can and that those who reached the end were in possession of all the facts.