I saw this sign just the other day at a Motorway Service station near Birmingham.
When were you last in a fast-food queue, almost losing control with excitement, thinking, 'OMG! This is so exciting!'?
Hmmm ... I don't know about you, but for me, it's been a while.
Isn't the use of the word 'exciting' here just a teeny bit over the top?
This is, of course, a classic case of copywriting hype.
(By the way, the long version of 'hype' - 'hyperbole' - is one of those words I always used to read wrong. - 'Hyperbowl'.
'Penelope' was another one - always reading it as 'Pennyloap'.
OK - it's just me then. Back to our topic!)
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Any of this seem familiar?
It’s the kind of rubbish you read all the time on those clickbait links. It’s called hype and it’s the worst kind of marketing.
Hype makes grandiose claims. Hype makes unfulfillable promises. Hype endangers that precious commodity that you and I treasure above all other precious commodities -
Writing with hype is easy and it's lazy.
We should use the kind of language that engenders trust. We should address a specific problem our prospect might be experiencing. We should let them know how our product or service can alleviate that problem. We should write, not at them, but for them.
So - here are just a few ways to write effective, hype-free sales copy.
1. Be specific about who you’re targeting
Write in a way that shows you understand your prospect’s needs and how you can help them. This creates an emotional connection. One way is to use questions.
For example, you’re selling gym equipment. These questions might address your prospect's specific concerns -
Do you have a New Year resolution to lose weight?
Are you fed up with high gym prices?
Is your old treadmill looking the worse for wear?
You see what’s happening? Ask the right questions and your reader will feel you’re writing, (and I unashamedly repeat) not at them, but for them.
2. Keep it Conversational
Speak. Don’t write. Write as though you’re chatting to a friend over a cup of coffee. Read here about writing in a conversational manner.
3. Don’t make wild claims
Last week, I saw the best movie I’d ever seen, my sister made me the tastiest banana and maple pancake in history and I wrote the best web copy ever.
Guess what? None of this is true. You knew the claims were ridiculous as soon as you’d read them.
Sure, the movie was pretty good.
So was the banana and maple pancake.
The web copy? Well, let’s just say the client bought me a lovely bottle of plonk.
But were they all ‘the best ever’? of course not.
So, instead of pumping out exaggerated claims, how about some facts?
The movie has been nominated for four Oscars.
I asked my sister for the recipe for the banana and maple pancake.
The client posted a great testimonial on LinkedIn.
Facts are great. Facts are indisputable (unless you’re Donald Trump) and… they help build trust.
4. Don’t obsess about the sale
This might surprise you but it’s true. If you write only to make the sale, you will sound way too salesy.
Instead of focusing on the sale, think about forming a relationship with your prospect. Follow the mantra of the wonderful BBC. Educate, inform and entertain.
Here's what David Ogilvy, the king of copywriting said -
The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.
Would you lie to your wife or husband? (Answers in the comments section below). You would? Well, you certainly shouldn’t lie to your prospects.
Once your carefully-crafted, benefit-centred copy has brought them round to trusting you, they’ll be far more receptive when the time is right to ask for the sale.
Leave out the hype and your readers will learn to love you.
They really will.
Till the next time.