Are you credible? Or are you a politician?
If you want to succeed as a copywriter, you have to produce copy that sells.
Copy that sells happens when people believe what you write. The first way to ensure that most readers won’t believe you, is to hype your claims and promise the undeliverable.
Take a lesson from the politicians. How many do you know that actually deliver what they promise during their campaigns once they’re elected to office? Exactly. Not many. Which is why most politically savvy voters listen to pre-election campaigns with a bucket of salt at hand.
When you’re pitching a product or service, it’s essential that you create credibility.
It has to begin with the headline and be carried through the copy, right down to the call to action.
Gary Bencivenga (a HUGELY successful direct marketing copywriter since the ’70’s) said in an interview with Clayton Makepeace (also a hugely successful copywriter), that in his experience, you’re usually much better off with a headline that under-promises.
His point was that people are so tired of being lied to that they pretty much tune out everything they consider to be ‘too good to be true’. Gary cites a headline he wrote for Hume Publishing, “Get rich slowly” as an example. His copy basically said, “Look, if you’re tired of all the hype, this is the course that you should be buying because if you got $2,000 to $3,000 to put aside each year, this is a course that could easily get you to the $1 million mark. It’s not going to happen in three, four or even five years, but if you want to retire with $1 million and can only put $2,000 aside in an IRA each year, this is how it’s done.” According to Gary, “That ad was virtually unbeatable for several years with a headline that the client didn’t even want to test…”
When you’re competing with the thousands (yes, thousands!) of marketing messages that are bombarding your target audience daily, you have to do more than capture their attention for a split second. You have to keep it. The longer you can keep it, the more you will sell.
Keeping your audience’s attention long term means that you have to build a relationship of trust. You can’t trust someone you don’t believe. So, instead of over-promising and under-delivering, make your goal to under-promise and over-deliver.
That doesn’t mean that you neglect to tell the truth about what you’re selling because it sounds ‘too good to be true’, or that you become so ambiguous that you practically tell the reader that you don’t believe in your product. It means that if your product or service is incredibly great, that you structure your claims so that they are believable. That may mean toning them down a little or providing irrefutable proof that they’re true.
But, in either case, your headline must be credible to ensure that the reader has enough confidence in your credibility to continue reading all the way to the end.
One of the ways that you can ensure that your copy is credible is to get a good cross section of people to read it and ask them to make a note next to anything, anything at all, that seems hard to believe, illogical or causes them to feel that they just don’t buy your story.
Rewrite until you plug all the holes, eliminate all the objections and come across as absolutely sincere and truthful.
If you practice that, you’ll find that your sales messages will be credible and as a result, will sell more. And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it?