How to use the Zero Risk sweep (sweep #7)

Presented live on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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You’ve swept your copy for clarity, voice and tone, so what + prove it, specificity and emotion. And it’s reading pretty well. So what’s the last sweep before you hit publish on that sales page or send on that email?
Join us to see how to apply the Seventh Sweep to your copy.


Joanna Wiebe: Hitting record. Okay, today we are talking about the seventh of The Seven Sweeps. We have gone through all of The Seven Sweeps already online. You can go to and look at the tutorials there. Those are video replays that are available. When you go in the sidebar, you will see The Seven Sweeps down at the very bottom of the list of The Seven Sweeps replays. Sarah just chatted out links for that, so thank you, Sarah. Quick reminder: if you have anything you want to chat over to us, do use chat for us to see it right away. If there’s a technical problem like a lag, please just pause. If I talk like a robot, let me know. That happens sometimes. If you have any questions to be addressed by the end of this session, please put those in the Q&A area. When you chat, chat to everyone if you can if you’d like everybody to see it. If you have something private to share, just chat to panelists or to myself, or Sarah.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, cool. So, Seven Sweeps training. I’m going to share my screen. We’re going to look over The Seven Sweeps so far very briefly. Again, Tutorial Tuesdays are always supposed to be short, and then we’re going to dive into the seventh Sweep. Let me share my screen. Cool. Okay, so reminder of what the Seven Sweeps are. Everybody can see my screen okay? It looks like it’s all green, so it should be good. The Seven Sweeps are The Clarity Sweep. I’m not going to go through the details on these, but you start and you finish always with Clarity. Clarity is the most important thing, and it will make every one of the sweeps that follow it more powerful. You go, you write your first draft of copy or your final draft of copy, whatever it is. Before you push your copy elsewhere like to reviewers, before you present it to your clients, internal or external clients, before you publish it, you want to go through The Seven Sweeps. This is a fast exercise; this is not supposed to be very long at all. Usually it’s good to block off like 30 minutes. Say, “That’s all I’m giving myself, is 30 minutes to do these Sweeps,” and don’t give yourself too little because you want to actually want to make sure you’re doing them right. Yeah, 30 minutes should get the job done.

Joanna Wiebe: You go through, you open up your Doc, whatever form it’s in, and you start by sweeping for Clarity. Is what you’re saying clear? If you’re like, “Well, what are some ideas?”, go back, look at those replays. All of those replays for all the six previous Sweeps have ideas for what you can do. Then you go down to Voice and Tone. Sweep your whole page for Voice and Tone. Then, you go back through for Clarity again. Then you go to “So What?” Sweep for the “So What?”, like, “So what? Why should your prospect care?” Then do Voice and Tone, and then do Clarity, but we’re always going down and building back up through the list of those Seven Sweeps. They’re in a particular order. The Prove It Sweep follows that. Specificity, really big deal. When you get Clarity right, you’re usually going to get Specificity close to right, but yeah, that’s another topic entirely. The [Heightened Emotions 00:03:17] Sweep, Thalia was in last week to talk about emotions, so we have this one [sauna 00:03:21] page that we’re working with where I’ve highlighted a few things that could be more emotional, and I’ll show you that toward the end.

Joanna Wiebe: Today, we’re talking about the Zero Risk Sweep. The Zero Risk Sweep is the last one before you move back up the list and finish with Clarity. Once you’re done with Zero Risk Sweep, you’re done and you can feel very confident that your copy is in a good place for your prospect, as well as for any reviewers who are like, “Well, this isn’t clear.” You’ll know, “Nope, it’s clear.” You swept it seven times for clarity, the voice and tone. All of the things that make great copy great should be covered once you do this. Now if your starting copy is crap, this will just clean it up. It won’t make it great copy, but it should at least highlight some of things that you need to work on. If your starting copy is too short, some of these will force you to expand what you’re saying to the point that it actually makes sense for your prospect. It’s just a really good exercise to go through these Sweeps.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, Zero Risk. Zero Risk is all about reducing perceived risk for your one reader. Not for everybody in the room, just for that one reader that you’re trying to persuade. We talk about the Rule of One and The One Reader a lot, especially in copy school, so I’m not going to get into that right now but you are writing for one person, and that’s the one person you want to get into their mind and understand what is going to feel risky for them, what’s going to make them not want to move forward with doing what the rest of the page is convincing them to do. This is your last chance to be like, “Okay, have I really proved it and have I made my prospect, my one reader feel so good about moving forward that they will move forward?” This is basic conversion rate optimization. It’s basic, but that doesn’t mean the results are basic. If you can reduce risk by an large, if you’ve identified the risk first and then reduced it, you can almost always; I’m not going to say “always,” but it’s a pretty sure thing to get a conversion lift once you do this. Of course, if it’s not clear, that’s how we have all those other steps.

Joanna Wiebe: Point here to begin with: do not jump straight into, “Oh, we need testimonials on the page to reduce risk,” or, “Oh, the best way to reduce risk is to have a money-back-guarantee” or whatever. Yes, those are good things. Don’t start there necessarily; you’ll probably end up there, but don’t start there because you want to make sure that you are matching what you put on the page to the actual risk that people are feeling, not to this grand assumption we make that, “Oh, people just want to make sure they’ve got 60 days to get their money back.” That’s something that anybody can do. If we want to be really strong conversion copywriters, we have to rise above that and do the harder work. Let me just zoom in a bit here so you can see things.

Joanna Wiebe: We want to really start with this Sweep. Just do a quick gut check. This is just like a [heuristic 00:06:21] analysis. You don’t have to have any great like, “Why would I give it a score of one out of ten?” We just want to measure the possible risk for our prospect on a scale of one to ten. If they’re buying a pacemaker online, the risk is going to be around a 10. If they’re buying a very scary thing online that they have to self-install, the risk is going to be around a 10. If they are installing an app for free on their phone, the risk is going to be much lower. When you’re doing your Zero Risk Sweep, you won’t have to worry as much about it. You might spend a minute on this stage if the risk is already like, “Well honestly [inaudible 00:07:07].” Like honestly. Not like, “Oh, lazy me decides I don’t want to this. I’m going to say it’s low-risk.” Really, is it low-risk or is it a high-risk sort of purchase for your prospect? It doesn’t even have to be a prospect; it could just be like a download or something.

Joanna Wiebe: You want to start by just doing a quick scale of one to ten, is this a risky purchase or isn’t it? Is it a risky transaction or isn’t it? Then adjust what you’re saying on the page accordingly. You should’ve already have had this in mind when you were writing, so this won’t be a big surprise to you.

Joanna Wiebe: Then we want to assess our copy against our one reader’s worries about, and these are generally the five sorts of, I guess we’ll call them “risks” that we’re thinking about. Performance is a really obvious one: “Is this thing going to work like you say it is?” That’s where you might be going through and you might have said in your “So What?” and Prove It Sweeps, and [inaudible 00:07:59] like, “Oh, I’d really like to prove this point with a really good screenshot or demo,” and then you kind of just gave up on it because no one would give you the demo on your team or something. You just didn’t have a demo. You go through this like, “No, actually one of the biggest concerns that our prospect will have here will be this risk performance: will it work like we’re saying it’s going to?” A demo is the best way to neutralize that. “I’m going to push harder to get my team to give me a recorded demo.” Ask that question yourself: “Will it work like we say?”

Joanna Wiebe: Risk of value: “Is this actually worth what I’m going to pay for it?”, even if the thing you’re paying with is your email address. That’s a very valuable form of currency today. Is it worth it connecting with Facebook? Also an important form of currency. “Is it going to be worth it to me?’, which leads us to some of the other concerns around risk of design. “Will it somehow harm or introduce friction into my life?” That could just be like, “It’s designed for one user, I’m a different user,” et cetera. Risk of social success, this is a big one for [SASS 00:09:07] or collaborative products. “Will this matter to people in my life that will be approving or disapproving of it? Will I be socially successful when it ake this on or introduce this to my family, my team, my soccer team,” whatever it might be. Finally, risk of joy: “Will I be satisfied or improve personally by it?” This gets into that emotion side of it that we do in the Sweep, but, “Is there a risk that I won’t be as happy as I want to be in the end?”

Joanna Wiebe: Your job as the copywriter is not to have absolute data on all of these all the time. That would be a perfect dream life, but that’s actually not how it works. We have to work with what data we do have and the rest comes down to strong instinct based on experience and actually having real empathy for our prospects.

Joanna Wiebe: Once you’ve identified the likeliest concerns, and I say “concerns” there but I really recommend that when you’re doing a Sweep, you focus on one of these risks, not all five of these. Are you going to make sure that they feel zero risk about the performance of this product? Then you’re going to nail performance throughout. You’re just going to show like, “Yeah, it does what I said. It does.” Is it about value? Then that’s where a money-back-guarantee might be played up in a really big way. “Yes, you’ll get your money back. Here’s some testimonials about how valuable this was to people just like you,” things like that. For best results, don’t try to nail all five of these. If you can, great. Don’t aim for that because it’s a really ambitious goal and probably not worth it the first few times you do the Zero Risk Sweep.

Joanna Wiebe: Once you’ve done that, then we want to neutralize the risk that we’ve identified. These are some of the ways you can do that, and you’ve seen these bullets on the screen already. Of course you can see the replay, take a screenshot of this if you don’t already have these ideas, but these are really pretty standard ideas. The thing that makes it useful to have this list is, anybody can put together a list of ways to reduce risk. You just sit there, or you Google it like, “Okay, how do I reduce risk?”, but we want to make sure that we’re reducing the real risk that our prospect has, not just general risk overall. That’s not the kind of thing that we’re trying to do. We’re going to get more clever so we make sure the only messages on the page are the messages that matter to our prospect. Can you put in specific names of influential companies that are using the product? That’s, again, if that will help neutralize risk about social success. If you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to introduce this to my team. I want to make sure that really cool or teams that are like my team are already using this too so I feel less risk.”

Joanna Wiebe: If I am a small business and I see that IBM and Adobe are using this, well those are good names, but how many businesses my size are successfully using this. It might not be names at that point; it might be like quantities as I have here, “quantities of the right kinds of users,” like, “348 small businesses or businesses under 10 people signed up this week for this product.” That’s good to know, or, “Found success with this product.” You’d have to, of course, get specific with what kind of success that is, but really go through and use. I’m not going to read through this list because you can read and you can go through it, and you can always go back and replay it too. If you have any questions, let me know about it, but this is what we want to be considering when we’re doing the Zero Risk Sweep. First, what’s the big risk? Is it a really big risk or is it a little risk, and what can we say on the page to neutralize that risk? What can we take that’s already there and optimize, or what can we add to the page to make it better? Or, if we’re saying something on the page that might be introducing a new risk, can we take things off the page as well?

Joanna Wiebe: Back to the Control. We’re not going to go through the Control too much; we’re going to get into the Swept one. Now again, the idea when you’re sweeping is to go through and highlight things that don’t work, then fix them, and then go through to the next step in The Seven Sweeps. It sounds complicated when I say it, like, “Shit, that’s a lot of steps, Joanna,” but there are seven of them and they’ll actually go pretty fast once you do them.

Joanna Wiebe: I highlighted a few things in here around getting more emotional. We’ve already seen all the comments in here along the side and some of these if you watched or if you were here for the last Tutorial Tuesday on The Seven Sweeps, you know what these are about. I have a very big problem with this “Move Work Forward” because it’s not clear, it’s not specific. There’s no “So What?”, there’s no Prove It, it’s not emotional, it’s not reducing risk. We’re not hitting and there’s no voice or tone. We’re hitting zero of any Sweeps at all. It’s just not hitting it. It’s a very common sort of thing for SASS companies in particular to turn into a headline. It’s a clever three-word thing that makes a boardroom very happy. What do users think? Can we do better than that? Yes, we can do better than that. That’s why it’s just highlighted but not changed, because I don’t know what their big idea should be. That’s the kind of the thing if I were the copywriter on this, I would know what that big idea is, and I would go in and say, “Yeah, this isn’t working. How can we make this stronger?”

Joanna Wiebe: Are you guys still with me? Am I frozen? Am I back?

Sarah Dlin: You’re back [inaudible 00:14:45], breaking up.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, it’s breaking up. Okay, I’m back. I’m watching the chats. It was out, yeah. I got an “unstable connection” thing. Well we’re almost at the end here anyway. The point here is, most of the time the reduction of risk is going to happen around the site of conversion. That means the actual call-to-action is where we want to make sure we’re reducing risk most. That’s the first place to look. If you’re in a rush and you’ve got a minute to do the Zero Risk Sweep, focus around that call to action. How can you make it really, really easy, but not just easy? Like low-risk for your prospect to move forward. What’s going to happen next? How will their lives get better as soon as they move forward with you? How can they trust that if their lives don’t get better, there’s a form of recourse for them? This would be the area where we would to dive into exploring, one, what we believe the risk is. Because this is a team product, I would definitely start at the point where I would hypothesize, at least, that the risk that someone might feel is a risk of social success.

Joanna Wiebe: The second risk for this is likely to be risk of performance. Value is, well there’s a free trial, so we don’t have to worry about it too much. “Design will introduce friction into my life?” That might be a concern down the road, but it’s not necessarily something that I would say we need to work on on this page unless there was data to prove otherwise, and risk of joy as well. I wouldn’t rate that as one of the top ones here. Social success will lead to that happiness that I want, and performance will lead to that social success. Those are the two that I would work on when I’m doing the Zero Risk on other Zero Risk Sweeps here.

Joanna Wiebe: That’s the conclusion of our tutorial, concluded swiftly because of poor internet stability. I’m not seeing any questions, which is awesome. I’m going to stop sharing, there we go. Thanks for the patience with sound and internet stability. Cool, so we’ve seen now the The Seven Sweeps. This will be available also as a replay. I’m not seeing any questions, which is amazing. Then I guess the next thing there is simply in the following couple of weeks, just watch for our next tutorials. We’ll have an announcement about when they’re coming out. I’m just going to pause recording.

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