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If I've Said It Once, I've Said It 1000 Times
Posted 13 October 2003 - 09:04 PM
He wanted me to rewrite the copy. After I took a look at what he had on his site, I understood right away why he wasn't getting any inquires.
He was using a "killer sales letter" on his site. It focused on the newest and most advanced things he could offer his customers. It was also filled with emotion. One problem... his target audience wasn't filled with emotion and they cared nothing about the newest and most advanced anything.
I knew from my studies and experience that IT pros (generally) are driven by facts and data. They stick to proven methods... not the "new and improved" things that pop up every other day. They distance themselves from the human factor whenever possible. They hate judgment calls and would much rather make qualified decisions based on solid facts and data.
Everything this client of mine had on his site just got on these IT pros' very last nerve!
I verified this by having a lot of IT folks take a look at the copy and telling me (honestly and in their own words) what they thought of it. They quickly confirmed what I already knew.
I rewrote the copy and it should be loaded on the new site within a week. It will be interesting to see what kind of response it brings.
Point being... you can't follow the crowd or use a particular type of copy style just because other people tell you that you should. You have to know your target audience, how they prefer to receive communication, what their likes and dislikes are.
After all, they are the ones with the money... we kinda need to cater to them, huh?
Posted 14 October 2003 - 02:58 PM
I'm glad you were able to convince your client to change the approach on his web site. You're right: marketing research is in and shows that engineers and techie types do NOT like hype. In fact, the more straightforward and factual the copy, the more likely they are to read it and act on it.
This is why they like factual white papers. Why statistics and facts are so popular with this group. These scientific/techie types are left brainers by nature and copy that doesn't address this fact leaves them cold.
I recently did the web site copy for a firm that does complex mathematical modeling for space agencies (their software trains astronauts). Finding the balance between "highly scientific" and "inviting copy without hype" was a challenge, but one that I enjoyed! Trust me, those who read this copy wanted to know the facts, and not the hype, about this firm.
My approach was very, very different than the one I used for a club-oriented travel site, where casual and breezy was the name of the game for their audience.
You're right. Know your audience, speak to them-and the copy will follow.
Glad you stood up for what you knew would work, and I suspect that the results will start coming in proving you took the right approach!
Posted 15 October 2003 - 01:50 PM
This reminds me of a discussion that was on the I-Copywriting digest recently. Those long, infomercial-like sales letters can be very powerful and lucrative, but only with the right audience. I, for one, am totally turned off by that kind of over-hyped writing.
Posted 15 October 2003 - 01:54 PM
For me, the best way to sell me something is to let me convince myself.
Posted 15 October 2003 - 02:10 PM
I've heard of it being terribly effective, too.
But, you've got to have the right audience, and that precludes just using it because everyone else seems to. Dangerous!
Posted 15 October 2003 - 02:14 PM
All the hype online these days makes everyone think that a sales letter works for every, single type of product or service out there.
Now, I'll give you this... in studies, longer copy outpulled shorter copy by a landslide in *most* cases. However, that study (to my knowledge) didn't specifically test "sales letter" against other types of copy.
However, I'll go one further and tell you that a GOOD sales letter will roll in sales like you wouldn't believe. However, it's when you get the "SKYROCKET YOUR PROFITS BY 1000% IN THE NEXT 4 HOURS" junk that I think it's just too much.
In the original days of direct mail, the letter were... well... letters. They didn't go to the extreme that they do now.
Minerva, you're right. I saw that issue of I-Copywriting. It's true... get it before the "right" people and you'll sell like wildfire. Says a lot about the audience some companies target, doesn't it?
Posted 15 October 2003 - 02:17 PM
I'm just not a "hypster." I can write those types of letters, but I'd really rather not.
Posted 15 October 2003 - 07:25 PM
A list of my least favorite copy styles (lets see who agrees/disagrees)
> GIANT ALL CAPS TEXT!!
> Wierd color schemes - Why is almost every single ad in the United States written in Red, White, and Blue? Did someone do a study? Was it from the 50's? Ouch! My eyes! Does this still (or ever) work?
> I can't show it, but the yellow highlighting over almost every sentence.
> Same with bold - these are for emphasis, not for nearly the whole text
I'll lay off the colors and stick with facts for the rest - it's getting painful...
> Gratuitous hyperbole
> Over the top "customer quotes" Do real people actually say these things?
> Obviously false "going soon" and "only until friday" and other totally artificial deadlines
> Blinking lights/text/borders
> Veeerrrryy slooooooow flash/java presentations/text. Not everyone reads that slow.
I'm sure I'll think of more. Any disagreements or additions?
Posted 15 October 2003 - 08:17 PM
There were some really hysterical parodies on WebmasterWorld in a thread that started off... "Who decided... that all keyboards exported to Nigeria should have the caps-lock key disabled in the ON position?" Very funny. And very apt.
Spam parodies-- a fascinating art.
Well. Not really.
What I find most annoying is with the kind of spam you get by real mail-- oh right, junk mail, that's what they call it-- where they've taken elaborate pains to make it look hand-written. I got one letter from a credit card company, that looked like a greeting card. The envelope was yellow, and the address was stamped in what looked like a girl's handwriting.
Also, the "insurance quotes" that are "hi-lited" in yellow and "signed" in blue ink. The hi-liter is even slightly crooked in places. But... it doesn't soak through the paper; it's obviously printed on. Ditto for the pen. Who actually thinks this was hand-written??? Who is going to fall for it? And what's my reaction going to be when I open the "greeting card" and am greeted with an ad? I'm going to be violently annoyed and vow never to do business with That Particular Major Credit Card again!! What the heck?
So, in general, any marketing policy that's deceptive gets a big kick in the pants from me. I read somewhere some marketing person saying that they enrolled experimentally in a popunder campaign with a tried and true advertisement that generally got them a 2% clickthrough rate in other places.
The result? 10,000 impressions, and nary a single click. Not even one.
It was a conclusive experiment. If you're going to use deceptive ads, you'd better have very, very unsavvy users. If you have unsavvy users, don't expect satisfied customers.
Posted 16 October 2003 - 06:56 AM
What do I know? Maybe writing that stuff is where the big bucks are...
Am I judging too harshly? Here's the link to the course:
Posted 16 October 2003 - 10:53 AM
"I was a poor homeless soul living in dumpsters and eating trash. Then I realized how I could make big money selling freeze-dried gerbils on the internet! Dan Thies showed me how..."
Posted 16 October 2003 - 02:05 PM
Unfortunately, there IS big money being made from this type of writing, which is why some copywriters do it. The letter is actually an example of a classic direct mail sales letter, adapted to the web.
And it has probably hooked thousands of people into ordering the course, which is why it's still up there on their site.
Direct marketing writing earns more than any other type of writing that I know of. I know several copywriters who earn $1000 and $2000 for every 500 word page that they create using some of these techniques.
Done well, it sells, if directed to the right market.
The problem is that it's rarely done well. Instead, people try to use this style, and the results are, well, laughable (at best).
Thousands of online marketers read a book on copywriting slapped together in a week (by someone who read a "How to write a book in a week" ebook, of course )
They then believe that they, too, can create "great copy", and start following the directions. Some sites are even selling "sales letter templates" you can buy. Just cut and paste, put in your product on the dotted line, and voila! Instant copy.
I have written copy for some nationally-known marketers. But I let them know:
-I don't do "hype" and I never, ever lie.
I have had people ask me to write testimonials. I then say, "Give me the phone number of the satisfied client, I'll call them, and get a great one for you from them." That was when I found out to my dismay that some copywriters actually MAKE UP testimonials. It made me so angry, but it happens.
The problem for me isn't so much the colored fonts, the bolds (except for those who use 'hypnotic techniques" in a laughable manner). It's the poor writing; the horrible grammar, the lack of really communicating well. And the horrendous crud that some of these letters are trying to sell. The letters are meant to sell unrealistic dreams to people, and to me this is highly dishonest. Sorry, there's no "riches with no work" in the real world.
It makes it harder for those with legitimate products to do well, since the market is over-saturated with hype, disinformation, and oversell in some sectors. I once discussed this problem with a highly ethical marketer I've worked with, who really does have good products, and he agreed: it's hard to compete in some niches, because if you quietly, honestly, and informatively share what your product is, it gets lost in the blare of promises from others. How would you sell a legitimate weight loss product???? But we both agreed, that in the end, quality stands out, and word does get out. Ethical people with good products do win in the end-it just takes a bit longer. They're less like to be an 'overnight success."
Well, I needed to vent a bit, as you can all see. It's just that I've been researching online marketing for several years now, and have seen both the good, the bad, and the downright stupid.
Posted 17 October 2003 - 06:39 AM
Here's my take. When direct mail started, it was a skill and an art. It worked wonderfully. It did not contain all the used car salesman, screaming hype that it contains now.
In fact, as far as I've seen, it didn't start containing all the overblown hype until the birth of the Web.
(I'm talking about sales letters, not infomercials.)
But, like everything else on the 'Net, when people find something new that works, it is quickly spread, distorted, blow completely and totally out of proportion, and then suffers a slow, miserable death.
Maybe Ginsu knife copy will follow the same path
Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:13 AM
The paradox is that most experts in face-to-face selling realize that the important thing is to get the customer talking. Talking at the customer incessantly will fail. It's permission marketing now. That probably means that you need some kind of interactive selling process on the web, where the potential client can determine how he or she picks up the information they need to convince themselves they want to buy. That certainly isn't several screenfuls of text for most prospects.
Posted 17 October 2003 - 09:59 AM
except for those who use 'hypnotic techniques"
Ok, you got my attention - I have to know. What the heck is a hypnotic technique?
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