Posted Friday, June 27, 2003
Good copywriters are among the best paid people in the work force. Most webmasters are not in this group. Yet we need to sell. Should we emulate good copywriters? That is, should we do what they do to the best of our ability?
While we must follow proven advertising and copywriting principles, most of us would be better served taking a different route.
I've been writing ever since I can remember. All sorts of stuff. And I've had success with most everything I've written. One standout exception: Copywriting. I have never written a sales letter I thought was worth a hoot. Still, I do sell. But not with sales letters. For me, the secret is in telling the truth.
My First Sales Course
I put myself through college selling women's shoes. It's a good way to learn some things about selling. The first thing I learned was that I was no good at all doing what many other salespeople did. Lots of talk, hustle, and the soft con.
When a woman asks, looking at the shoes on her feet in a mirror, "What to you think? They make my feet look fat, don't they?"
Some salespeople are able to respond glibly. "No, not at all. I think blah, blah, blah."
I never was able to make that work. My reply would be, pointing to a pair she had tried on earlier, "I think those give your feet a more slender look."
Two key points here. 1) I learned quickly never to say anything I did not believe, for every time I tried, I lost credibility. 2) If nothing positive came to mind, I'd say how I felt. Usually, "Guess I'm not sure."
I developed quite a following. On an occasional Friday night, I had the top book, meaning I out sold the full time staff. It worked because previous customers were willing to wait until I was free to work with them.
So I take the same approach on my website and in pitching my services. It works for me. If you haven't tried it, give it some thought.
A More Contemporary Example
Ken Evoy, author of "Make Your Site Sell" is a good copywriter. Recently I asked permission to create a digest of some of his work. The reply came swiftly. "Sure thing," he said. Then added, "But wrap with your MWR (Most Wanted Response)." And he suggested:
"If this digest strikes a chord, subscribe for
the full, intensive 5-day Affiliate Masters course.
I still can't believe they give this away."
I can't bring myself to say this. For one thing, given my time in university classrooms, I know what a full, intensive 5-day course is. While the Affiliate Masters course is loaded with fascinating information and creative thinking, it's not a five day course at all, intensive or otherwise. It's a series of messages from an autoresponder one a day for five days. And I can't bring myself to say differently.
In the last line above, Ken suggests, "I still can't believe they give this away." I can't say that either, for I know why Ken is delighted to "give" away as many copies as possible. And likely you do as well. It gives him a golden opportunity to pitch, "Make Your Site Sell."
I did wrap, though, with my version of a pitch. Here's what I used.
"The course is loaded with great information, including how to carry the ideas above into a successful site. Of particular interest may be the recommendations for successfully selling products produced by others.
There is no hype here. No con. All of the above is absolutely true. And what's more, those who do click on this link are in for a surprise. For they will receive even more than I claimed they would. This means they'll be even more willing to accept another recommendation later. (Incidently, if you haven't seen this course, you really ought to click on the link above. It's great stuff.)
A lot of women feel their feet are too fat. Some salespeople can say right out that those shoes look just great on you, even when it's not so. What's more, they can close a sale in doing so. I can't make that work.
All that I say and write is true to the best of my knowledge. Thus readers need only decide whether or not I'm right. They never need to sort fact from fiction.
If you lack great copywriting skills, give some thought to sticking to the facts and the truth. It's a giant step toward a relationship of trust.