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Bury The Bull - Tell The Truth
- Make Money!
27, 2008 Issue
- by Michel Fortin
of the copy people ask me to rewrite
seem to offer great products and services. In fact, some of their
offers are so good, prospects would be crazy to turn them down. But
they do. And these sales pieces end up falling in my lap because
they're desperately unproductive.
One of the biggest problems I see in these pieces
is the fact that the copy is stale, limp and anemic. Downright dull and
You've heard the adage, "copywriting is
salesmanship in print." This is nothing new. It comes from the ageless
teachings of the masters, like Hopkins, Barton, Collier and others,
which still ring true today. Including the Internet.
But people tend to forget this axiom. Here's why...
Writing copy is like face-to-face
selling. And when writing copy, the lack of human interaction takes
away the emotional element in the selling process. Therefore, a sales
message must somehow communicate that emotion that so empowers people
As the saying goes, "It's not what
you say but how you say it that counts." That's why the challenge is
often not with the offer itself but with the language, the tone and the
"voice" of the copy.
You may have a great product, but
your copy must be effective enough to make its case and present its
offer in an irresistibly compelling way.
Problem is, some sales messages get
so engrossed in describing the companies, the products and the features
of their products that they fail to appeal to the reader specifically.
It's understandable. Businesspeople
are often so tied to their businesses or products that they get tunnel
vision and fail to look at their copy from their readers' perspective.
My advice? Be more experiential -- as
if the reader is experiencing what you're telling them. And be more
benefit-rich, of course. But more important, be ego-driven when
describing those benefits.
Often, people mistake "emotion" for
"hype." People buy on emotion. Even when selling to other businesses,
people are still the ones okaying the deal, filling out the purchase
orders, whipping out their credit cards or signing the checks.
And people always buy for personal,
Copy using convoluted, complex,
highfalutin language doesn't sell product. It might in some cases,
true. But this type of third-person, impersonal, "holier-than-thou,"
ego-stroking corporate-speak is self-serving. It may sells product. But
when it does, it does so out of luck or market demand than out of good
(And when I say "ego-stroking," I'm
referring to the seller's ego, not the buyer's. Big difference.)
The fact remains that companies and
websites and committees and C-level titles are NOT the
ones who fork out the money, issue the purchase orders or sign the
Don't be shy or afraid in being
personal, conversational and emotional with your copy. Of course, I'm
not talking about being so lackadaisical with your grammar and your
spelling to the point that English majors want to burn you at the stake
(Although, your copy might infuriate
some purist grammarians. Unless you target grammarians specifically, or
offer a product that aims to help one's grammar, these people are not,
and never will be, your clients. Clients are the ones that matter.
After all, they're people, too.)
And I'm also not talking about being
crude, uttering profanities with every sentence or using a crass style
that's so brash or laid back, you appear as if you are on
anti-depressants in an attempt to assuage your nightmares from your
earlier high-school English class detentions.
I mean copy that goes "for the
jugular," is down to earth and is straight to the point. That presses
hot buttons, energizes their hormones and invigorates their buying
Copy that relates to your audience at
a personal and intimate level -- not an educational or socio-economic
level, but a level people can easily understand, appreciate and
identify themselves with...
... A level that shows you are
concerned, genuinely interested and empathetic with each and every
prospect on an individual basis.
So, here are some tips.
Follow the rule of the "3 C's." Express
your offer as clearly, as convincingly and as compellingly
1. Use words, phrases and imagery
that help paint vivid mental pictures. When people can visualize the
process of doing what you want them to do, including the enjoyment of
the benefits of your offer, you drive their actions almost
2. Be enthusiastic. Be energetic. Be
excited about your offering, because your job is to transfer that
excitement into the minds and hearts of your readers.
3. Denominate, as specifically as
possible, the value you bring to the table. And how what you bring to
the table will meet and serve the needs of your prospect specifically.
In other words, you need to make them
feel important. Write as if you were speaking WITH your
prospect, right in front of them, in a comfortable, conversational
When you do, your copy will imply
that you understand them, you feel for them and for their "suffering"
(for which you have a solution), and you're ready to nurture and take
care of them.
Forget things like "best," "fastest,"
"cheapest" and other universal, broad claims. Because the worst thing
you can do, second to making broad claims, is to express any claims
Make claims, sure. But be specific.
Be intimate. Be ego-driven.
Above all, be emotional.
People buy on emotion first. They
then justify their decisions with logic. Which is why you should
include logic and reasoning and rationale in your copy -- most often,
to give them reasons they can use and call their OWN for
justifying their purchase from you (and that, after they made that
Look at it this way...
If you want to tell people how better
or different or superior or unique your offering is, make sure you
express those claims in your sales message in a way that directly
benefits your buyer and appeals to her ego.
Being different is important. But
don't focus on how better or unique you are. Focus on how that
uniqueness directly benefits your prospect, even to the point they can
almost taste it.
Again, people are people. They buy on
emotion. They always have and always will. They only justify their
decision with logic, and rationalize their feelings about your offering
Once you accept and internalize that
fact, you'll clearly have the first rule of copywriting (or selling,
for that matter) down pat. Plus, according to my experience, you'll
also gain an edge over 98% of all other businesses and copywriters out
Even when selling to multinational,
Fortune 500 corporations, the buyers are people, not companies.
Purchasing agents are people. Decision-making committees are made up of
people. Even C-level executives with 7-figure incomes are people.
They are human beings.
And people always buy for personal
desires, selfish reasons and self-interested motives. It's been that
way for millions of years.
And nothing's changed.
My friend and top copywriter Paul
Myers said it best: "We are but only two short steps away from the
So don't try to sell to some
inanimate object called a "business," or even a "prospect." A business
is just brick and mortar -- or a bunch of computer chips, in the case
of online businesses. And a prospect is not some name and address on a
mailing list, a credit card number or a "hit" on your website.
Remember that it's not businesses or
prospects that fork out the money or sign the checks. It's people.
Your job is to express your offer in
terms that trigger their emotions, press their hot buttons, jerk their
tears, tug at their heartstrings and nudge them into taking action.
If not, then you're only telling
instead of selling.
Michel Fortin is a direct response
copywriter, author, speaker and consultant. Watch him rewrite copy on
video each month, and get tips and tested conversion strategies proven
to boost response in his membership site at http://TheCopyDoctor.com/
Be the best!
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