Monday, 23 November 2009

An Experiment In Successful Sales Copy


Why does everyone use totally effusive, exuberant, effervescent language to sell their products?

All it does is make you question the trustworthiness of the seller.

You ask yourself, “Why are they trying so hard? Why are they treating me like a moron? Are they desperate?”

80% of people don’t believe what advertisers say to them. Yet advertisers end up trying even harder to separate us from our money. Surely it is all counter-productive. Or maybe it does work otherwise why should so many people do it?

I have been involved in more than several product launches over the last few years. We always look at how similar businesses promote and sell their products and services. Competitors nearly always run the effusive copy:


  • “Only 147 seats left – almost sold out”

  • “Special Bonus valued at £500”

  • “Buy now before it is too late”

  • “Free… Free…. ”

  • “Special discount price”
Is this the most effective way to get people to buy from you?

If you run two parallel campaigns, one effusive/moronic and one talking to people like they are human beings, then you start to see interesting results.

The results and feedback are consistent:


  • Most folk distrust over-hyped claims

  • With higher ticket prices, trust and reputation become more important than outrageous benefit statements.

In fact, the hyperbole is often counter-productive. It turns people off.


So look at how you are selling your products and services. (As an example, we have done this with our new Business Club.) By talking straight and honestly, most readers will recognise that you haven’t fallen into the trap of writing marketing nonsense, will trust you more and buy more from you. Try it. It works.



Unless you only want morons for customers, in which case…

34 comments:

Unknown said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
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Marjory D said...

About bloody time someone states the obvious.

We are all fed up with the hypocritical and shallow masquerades of the snake oil salesmen parading as respectable business people.

'Free this that and the other'.! 'Enough' I say.

Can six million flies be wrong about one piece of s**t. Surely they can.

Do the offending experts really succeed in conning people to buy from them. Surely not!

Selling professional services requires creating trust. How can freebieworld do that - all you do is attract the free-loaders who know the value of nothing and the price of free things.

Madge

Unknown said...

Everyone I speak to is tiring of the effervescent nonsense spouted in the name of marketing copy. Time for a Campign For Real Words.

Marjory D said...

Again, too polite.

There is a growing band of programmes, systems and schemes that resemble the 'get rich quick' schemes of yesteryear. So-called experts preying on the naivety and vulnerability of wannabe entrepreneurs.

More fool anyone who gives them their hard-earned money. How can you trust anyone who claims to make you a millionaire within six months?

Do the wannabe's really believe there is a free seminar that will give away 'the real secrets'? Do the wannabes think that the Expert-Guru-UberConsultant really holds the keys to great riches?

Come on now. These people are taking their punters for a ride.

Madge

Colin D said...

Because they are wallies.

Colin

Colin Dunning said...

There's one born every minute!

Colin

Tomo said...

Cheap nasty copy is written by losers selling to losers. Are you a loser? No. Get on with the job in hand.


Tomo

Ash Mashhadi (@inspirationguy) said...

Another interesting post, Robert. The nature of marketing and sales is in a state of flux at the moment and you have drawn our attention to one of the areas is most controversial.

New online retailers appear every day and our choice of vendors has never been so great. The growth of price comparison sites means that finding the cheapest supplier is easy. Google makes it easy to find the branded supplier you want.

What does this all mean? It means that the old slaes relationship is changing fundamentally. Too many old-style marketers still think they can "create demand" or desire by simply lying to customers. They really need to lie down next to the T-Rex and the rest of the dinosaurs. The rest of us are simply, honestly and openly trying to find genuine solutions for clients. The quality of our products and services must speak for themselves. It is our job to put that before our clients and then simply (to borrow your phrase, Robert) allow them to buy. If they want.

Selling is dying. Say hello to buying.

Unknown said...

The 'old ways' of interruption marketing certinly used to work: "More Ads = More sales".

However, the consumer is smarter now.

To quote the stats (loosely), 76% of consumers don't believe what companies say in their ads... 78% believe word of mouth.

So, in the long run, shouting louder is probably not the right answer unless your customers only like bright and shiny things... or unless you think/believe that this strategy works for you.

Do people really believe all the "20 killer ideas", "unique special offer" stuff?

Robert

Anonymous said...

@teedp

On American Shout Copy...
also look at this link >> http://bit.ly/7wdDrc or
http://marvellousmonthlymarketingtips.co.uk/2008/09/americanised-sh.html

Ash Mashhadi (@inspirationguy) said...

Robert, I agree, the consumer is smarter now. Or at least they (I should say 'we' as we're all consumers) are more empowered. We've never really liked being seen as suckers. Advertisers who treat us like morons will get what they deserve IMHO.

The social media tools we've begun to adopt are enabling us to spread that word of mouth much more widely than before. This acts as a catalyst to that empowerment and in some cases this has enabled some notable expressions of 'people power'.

But I believe that the real iniquity of the 'snake-oilers' is that their techniques prey on the less experienced and more desperate members of society. Selling a fake short-cut to wealth is just too tempting for some people. Particularly those who have been worst-affected by the recession.

Shouting about secret techniques and quick fixes is a formula that no doubt works in the short term for the less scrupulous, but can never be a technique for any professional.

Tomo said...

Yeah so what are you going to do about it? Sit around and whinge? Create a campaign on Twitter?

Tomo

R (author) said...

One point of view is that business is about making money. Whether we reapect our customers is not relevant - look at the behaviour of most investors, VCs or pension funds. Increase earnings per share is the only real measure of performance. Your problem is that you think everyone should be nice about it. And yes, there is one born every minute.

R

R (author) said...

Just reread the post. What does this mean? Is this more stealth marketing? Are you messing with our heads?
"So look at how you are selling your products and services. (As an example, we have done this with our new Business Club.)"

R

PS This is not the best way to spend my Sunday morning so bye bye.

Mark D (London) said...

http://www.auctionslord.com/?et1=&et2=&et3=&et4= is a wonderful example

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“I will leave you with no stones unturned. You'll receive instant access
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Unknown said...

RE "So look at how you are selling your products and services. (As an example, we have done this with our new Business Club.)"

I was slightly ahead of myself. We are launching a Business Club in Jan but blog readers will get a chance to sign up for a free month's membership.(due for 'release' this week)

I was referring to the fact that we had to select our promo copy and deliberately avoided the "sixteen killer secrets approach" much loved by others. All will be revealed later this week.

Robert

Jim said...

Daryton Bird was the man that made the long copy famous as I understand. However, that was some time ago. Surely consumers are more intelligent now. Maybe not.

I could not associate myself (as deliverer or client) with a company that offers ridiculous promises.

Jim, BL

Andrew said...

I agree with Jim "Surely consumers are more intelligent now."

The US invented this, and has been doing hyperbole since radio began. What's astounding is that they still do so today. One can't watch 30 minutes of TV, or listen to radio without hearing full volume, maniacal hyperbole.

It is disappointing that the British mainstream seem to want to use the language of the lowest common denomination in the English Speaking World. They want to speak American. It is something that will plague us.

We have surely already gone mad, thanks to the American geek; the very same people with no social skills to begin with, reinventing the way the world interacts, ironically leading to far less social interaction of substance.

I believe that there already is a "campaign for real words." it is called discernment.

Unknown said...

Andrew
This still doesn't explain why so many people choose to buy into the hyperbole!
Robert

Andrew said...

RC

I was trying to avoid another long post, so neglected to enter the discussion. But, since you asked:

People like to feel that their purchase is not only justifiable, but wise. They like to feel good, as a way to ensure a positive change of state, and also efficacy of the products' intended application. Hyperbole promotes such a "buy-in" on an unconscious and emotional level.

This is why one can find it's origins in religion, especially evangelical forms. If one looks at the whole "Hell and eternal damnation," and "fire and brimstone" sort of thing, it is clear that hyperbole was a useful tool for societal order for organised religion and village elders alike.

In fact, I still remember being horrified when I was at primary school, to be told a story from the Bible, allegedly conveyed by Christ, about the debt of a servant which clearly signifies the debt of sin; He called it "a debt of 10,000 talents." Well, one talent was 6000 "denarii," and one "denarius" was a single days wages. The implication is that no one could ever pay off his debt of sin. How's that for hyperbole? I think it's why I went for Buddhism.

In marketing, as with organised religion (both knowing how to press the buttons of our emotional and social DNA) hyperbole is (mis)used to convey the idea of an unreachable limit. After all, in being on the receiving end of hyperbole, the less sceptical naturally assume that it can’t be that the one using it meant less than they said. If this were all they meant to do, they would have just said less.

Albeit, the latter view doesn't make sense to the more discerning buyer, as "understated" says far more to them than over.

Hyperbole is still as effective a tool in tribal environments, from Aborigine to Burindi, as it is in organised religion and politics. Thus, it is fascinating to see that after so much science, philosophy and industry, we are no different to the effects of hyperbole than our tribal brothers and sisters.

So, thousands of years of communication building and story-telling, has lead to the human race being deeply affected by the transfer of emotion via powerful messages, whether the message is positive or negative.

The problem is, if marketers keep abusing this essential aspect of communication, (I say essential, as what would Caesar, Ghandi, King and Churchill have done without hyperbole and refrain?) we may become immune to it's positive uses.

We might then be destined to be emotional zombies; unable to motivate or inspire one another. A depressing thought, as the modern marketers are already surely flat-lining us about the values of love, sex, compassion etc, through the media.

We are apparently powerless against the onslaught. That is, unless we prefer to be the proverbial goat, rather than the sheep. Which is why I never pick up products that are not clearly understated, and never watch commercial TV or listen to commercial radio.

Anyone involved in marketing their business can certainly capitalise on reaching the less myopic, more discerning palate. They could do no better than (re)reading your "Bright Marketing" and "Customer is King books" to find out the most elegant way to do this successfully. That was an understatement.

Craig Jackson (Durham) said...

Robert

Look at your own Business Club. Understated (=under-promise) but able to over-deliver.

As Pink Floyd said
"Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way"

No quiet desperation here. But under-selling is the English way. Or do we just prefer it all a bit more polite?

Make a stand. Strut your stuff. Stand up against the rest (King Canute was OK?). "6 million flies" says Madge.

There is no-one out there worth mentioning who is either doing something significant for the smaller business (= your business club?) or satisfying the larger SMEs (like The Directors Centre does).

Craig

(Oh and if you have a spare 10 mins can you sort the bankers out once and for all)

Sienna White said...

One of the things that made me take a serious look at the Business Club was the lack of hype (in the descriptions) surrounding it.

SW

Jerry McG said...

RC
Your Business Club words have been suitable modest.

Unknown said...

Thank you one and all.

Robert

Tracy Lynch said...

This blog post-entry has haunted me over Xmas. I can't quite get why so many people push, push, push. They must believe that it works.

Quite rightly everyone should be passionate about their product but this is all getting out of hand. I know that I sound like a grumpy old woman. Apologies.

Tracy

Tracy Lynch said...

Let's create a Campaign for Honest Selling

Lucius C said...

Have tried both versions and the results are intriguing (for training).

We got higher hit rate for the more agressive salesy version but had to spend more time filtering etc. Depends on your view of clients ('lambs to the slaughter', needy, etc,)

Fascinating post.

However still not convinced that the softly softly approach gets enough sales even if the buyers are nicer.

Jim(BL) said...

What's nice got to do with anything?

Check out Dan Kennedy or Chris Cardell if you like to see insistent marketing.

Matt said...

Personally I find that long copy works on balance. You may attract a more price sensitive customer but it does catch them appeals to the compoulsive purchase

Tracy Lynch said...

Let's create a Campaign for Honest Selling

Ash Mashhadi (@inspirationguy) said...

Robert, I agree, the consumer is smarter now. Or at least they (I should say 'we' as we're all consumers) are more empowered. We've never really liked being seen as suckers. Advertisers who treat us like morons will get what they deserve IMHO.

The social media tools we've begun to adopt are enabling us to spread that word of mouth much more widely than before. This acts as a catalyst to that empowerment and in some cases this has enabled some notable expressions of 'people power'.

But I believe that the real iniquity of the 'snake-oilers' is that their techniques prey on the less experienced and more desperate members of society. Selling a fake short-cut to wealth is just too tempting for some people. Particularly those who have been worst-affected by the recession.

Shouting about secret techniques and quick fixes is a formula that no doubt works in the short term for the less scrupulous, but can never be a technique for any professional.

Jim(BL) said...

What's nice got to do with anything?

Check out Dan Kennedy or Chris Cardell if you like to see insistent marketing.

Craig Jackson (Durham) said...

Robert

Look at your own Business Club. Understated (=under-promise) but able to over-deliver.

As Pink Floyd said
"Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way"

No quiet desperation here. But under-selling is the English way. Or do we just prefer it all a bit more polite?

Make a stand. Strut your stuff. Stand up against the rest (King Canute was OK?). "6 million flies" says Madge.

There is no-one out there worth mentioning who is either doing something significant for the smaller business (= your business club?) or satisfying the larger SMEs (like The Directors Centre does).

Craig

(Oh and if you have a spare 10 mins can you sort the bankers out once and for all)

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