Marketing October 1, 2013 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,510 Reads share

How Taking The Perp Walk Will Boost Your Sales

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If you’ve ever watched a detective show on television, you’ve seen the “perp walk.” It’s when the cops arrest the perpetrator—the perp—and puts him into the back of the squad car. While you may have never taken the perp walk yourself, you can use it to boost your bottom line. Hang in here with me for a minute; it’s not as crazy as it seems.

I have experience writing sales copy and it occurred to me recently that writing great sales copy closely parallels the perp walk. And if you have a website, distribute brochures, or send emails, you’re writing a lot of sales copy yourself, or you’re

# 1. Identify Your Suspect

This is really the most important step and if you watch detective shows on television you know that they spend most of the show identifying the suspect. They look at possible suspects from every angle and gather every clue that will eventually lead them to the correct perp. In the same way, you will spend more time understanding who your customer is than you spend actually writing copy, or reviewing the copy someone else has written.

You need to be able to think like your customer. Just like the TV detectives anticipate the perp’s next move; you have to know what motivates your customer. You need to understand this so well that you can anticipate your customers’ reactions to the copy you will soon put before them to read. You must have a gut feeling for the desires, fears, and aspirations of your customer.

# 2. Get Your Suspect’s Attention

There comes a point in every detective drama when the cops do something that causes the perp to trip up. The words you put in front of your customers won’t cause them to make a mistake, but it needs to draw them away from the ennui of everyday life. I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but a good way to describe this would be to use the word “arresting.”

In some way your copy has to pull the reader away from whatever he or she is doing and switch focus to your product or service. If you are writing copy that will be read by someone who is already seeking a product of service like yours, your sales copy needs to make your offering distinctive. It should make you stand above all the rest.

# 3. Lead the Suspect to the Squad Car

On TV shows, the bust isn’t complete until the perp is in the back seat of the squad car. There is always the awkward “walk” part of the perp walk when the police have the suspect’s full attention—he’s handcuffed—and they lead him out of the building and toward the police vehicle.

Similarly, you have to lead your potential customer logically and persuasively toward the sale. You need to build one fact on top of another to make your case and you need to do it in a way that appeals to your customer. That’s why understanding the customer is so critical.

# 4. Push the Perp’s Head Into the Open Door of the Squad Car

Finally, the police detective puts his hand on the perp’s head and guides him into the back seat of the police cruiser and slams the door. This represents the “call to action” in your sales copy. Someplace on your website’s main page or on a product page, there is the link to “contact us” or “add to cart.” The hand on the perp’s head is your last message that prompts the sale or at least the “action” you want your customer to take.

This call to action must be convincing and direct. This is not a time for confusion. The perp needs to get into the back seat and the door needs to be closed and locked.

Keep this “perp walk” sequence in your mind as you review your written materials or create new ones. Are the pages on your current website written with your identified customers specifically targeted or are your pages too generic? Do you understand content marketing?

Many episodes of “Hawaii Five-O” end with the phrase, “Book ’em Danno.” With compelling sales copy that follows our “perp walk” formula, you’ll be able to book more sales.

Photo Credit: “DSC_0238,” © 2011 Anjali Cadambi, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license:

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Megan Wright

Megan Wright

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