Copywriting Tips 10-12

Copywriting Tips to Help You Sell.

10. A footnote tells the reader: your loss is imminent.

Advertisers who impede access to information only fuel skepticism. When the prospect sees an asterisk, he knows instinctively a hand is reaching for his pocketbook. As songwriter Tom Waits observed: The big print giveth and the small print taketh away. (Ads by automobile dealers are prime examples of this woeful practice, with streams of mice type whispering the truth about the low, low price.)

When you are tempted to minimize details by setting them in six-point type at the bottom of the page, recall this line from The Godfather: “Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately.” I and every other consumer I know share Corleone’s view. Instead of requiring us to squint at disclaimers, advertisers should put the bad news where it is obvious. Treating it thus removes the connotation of double-dealing. It builds credibility for the advertiser and his message.

I look forward to the day when consumers won’t have to reach for a magnifying glass to read the circulars in the Sunday newspaper. Perhaps GM, having risen from the ashes of its near-fatal meltdown, will lead the way for this needed change. We can hope.

Copywriting Tips: Abstain from footnotes and mice type. Put the disclaimer in the body of your message where the prospect can readily factor it into the purchase decision.

11. To neglect the power of star words is to leave low-hanging fruit unpicked.

Every successful marketer knows certain words wield more clout than others. I call these powerhouse performers star words, because they are the “A-list” for commercial copy.

cash fresh new
discover guarantee proven
easy health safety
free love save

For example, would you rather learn how to shed unwanted fat…or discover how to shed unwanted fat? For taking part in a telephone survey, would you rather receive a gift…or a free gift? (I realize grammarians object to the redundancy of free gift. But consumers aren’t so picky; free gift will out-pull gift in every instance except, perhaps, when you market textbooks to English teachers.)

The next time you evaluate a selling message, check it for star words. See if you can work more star power into it. Compare its appeal with and without. You’ll soon discover why these words appear so frequently in commercial copy. They work.

Copywriting Tips: Use “star words” in your copy.
They bring proven power for results.

12. Without emotion, a marketing message is merely noise. It won’t connect with your prospect.

In 1925, novice copywriter John Caples penned a classic example of great advertising. The ad began with this powerful headline:

“They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play…”

Many copywriters believe this to be the best ad ever written. There’s no denying the emotional appeal. It pulls you into the performer’s shoes, where you feel your anxiety channeled into music that amazes your peers.

How do you put emotion in a commercial message? The words themselves need not be particularly eloquent. But they should be honest and sincere. Even more importantly, they must ring true; consumer attitudes in this post-Enron era range from decidedly skeptical to downright cynical.

Too, it is essential to believe in the product or service you are selling. Without genuine enthusiasm, writing to convince others is a schizophrenic exercise. If you can’t endorse wholeheartedly what you ask others to consider, you owe it to yourself (and to those who do believe in the product) to apply your talents elsewhere.

Every transaction is, ultimately, an interaction between people. Copy with emotion is like the sound of a friendly voice. It makes a fundamentally human connection that predisposes the listener to say “yes.” Copy without emotion is akin to life without love; it is “like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” It may make noise, but it produces nothing of value.

Copywriting Tips: Put emotion into your message to connect with your prospect on a fundamentally human level. Your words should be honest, sincere, and carry the ring of truth.