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Cold traffic party tricks - Stephen Pratley's Marketing Notes

Cold traffic party tricks

By  •  Updated: 01/11/23 • 
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3 min read

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A friend was talking to me about “cold traffic” campaigns yesterday and I almost spat out my drink as he said the words.

Because he works for a FTSE 100 telecoms company.

In fact it’s probably top 10. If you live in the UK you’ve definitely heard of it.

When he talks about cold traffic, he just means traffic that’s not retargeted ads, and not emails or mailings to their customer list.

But he’s ignoring nearly 50 years of brand advertising, and a service that was in every single home in the UK at one point.

They run the type of TV ads where you barely know the brand, but recognise it anyway.

Even though they don’t have a reputation for amazing service, you at least know that they’re trustworthy enough to get the job done, even if it doesn’t get done when they promised it would.


That’s the key word in this sentence.

If you’re a one-man business or a small agency, your cold traffic doesn’t come to you like that.

It’s stone cold, like a rocky beach in winter, with a gale blowing.

There’s zero trust. In fact in some markets it’s assumed you’re a scammer until you’ve proven otherwise.

This is the big hurdle that you need to get over with cold ads.

The social accounts who talk about making sales “without ads” are ignoring 2 years of posting into the void as their audience grows, and the daily nurturing of their audience that’s incredibly fragile if they want to take a few weeks off.

Cold ads can get you off that treadmill, but you need to learn the art of selling to an untrusting audience.

There’s 3 ways to do it:

1) Deliver a 1st product that doesn’t need any trust.

This is how most physical product businesses work. They can demonstrate the product with video, and at below around $50, it’s an impulse purchase that most people will consider worth the risk.

As an information product, you can’t demonstrate, but you can make a product really easy to understand what you’ll get, and you can over-deliver like a maniac to build trust for a bigger sale.

Worksheets and templates that you can put in front of a camera without showing the full detail are a great option for this.

2) Demonstrate your own results in your ads

Webinar funnels used to be amazing for this, but the economics are hard to get right these days.

But you can learn a lot from the webinar process because getting on camera early in your funnel can give a big lift to your efforts.

This is a very cool ad for an animation course that shows what the creator was making a decade ago.

It does 2 things at once. It shows what’s possible, and by adding the dates, it shows that you don’t need a decade of experience to create something fun.

Showing yourself “doing the work” is very hard to fake. Take a look at this video of Jack Butcher visualising an idea as an example from an organic video he did with Neville Medhora.

3) Show other people’s results in your ads

If you run video ads, bringing in testimonials early, is a great move.

This is one of VShred’s current biggest ads and it starts with a testimonial.

If you don’t have a lot of testimonials, you can show how “easily” you can get the results you promise by showing them on screen.

Your challenge is finding something that you can turn into a party trick and perform in just a few minutes, to demonstrate your expertise.

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.

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