When to step out of character… and how to get paid a bundle for it.
Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of hard-working marketers who sometimes write copy for their clients.
They were telling me about a campaign they put together they were very sure would work, but for some reason, didn’t. I asked them about the details of their campaign and they what they said was very revealing.
After about 30 seconds, I was able to pinpoint exactly what was going on and why their promotion didn’t work. Since I suspect these guys aren’t the only ones who have made this mistake, I figured I’d share it with you today.
Now before I get into it more specifically, let me share something with you about marketing and about writing copy. The best copy is written in “someone’s” voice. It may be you… it may be the voice of one of your satisfied customers… it maybe a doctor or a scientist… it may even be your mother.
And it’s very important, that whatever you are saying in your promotion, is consistent and congruent with whatever character voice is speaking. But, you’ve got to be careful.
Let me give you a specific example of what I mean. I grew up in the projects in the Bronx, in a lower middle-class neighborhood. And although I’ve left nearly all the habits and behaviors of this environment behind me, one thing I still have is a potty mouth.
I curse far too much in my speaking.
Now if you’ve ever heard me speak on stage or on a teleseminar, you wouldn’t know this, but my friends and others who I speak to one-on-one, most certainly have heard me swear more than once. Yes, it’s not too attractive, but frankly, I don’t pretend to be perfect.
Of course I don’t curse around women and small children, but in a crowd of guys, I’m a guy.
Anyway, so now let’s get back to these two marketers and their sales letter. These guys start telling me that in their letter, they were very edgy. They were dropping f-bombs, and cursing throughout their letter, to get attention and make a point.
Let me tell you something about this: Over the last 8 years I have written several million words and sold probably the same dollar value of goods and services, maybe more — who knows. And I will tell you something that may startle you, especially when you consider what I told you a minute ago about how I have a potty mouth: I have never ever EVER used a curse word in any sales letters, space ads, e-mails or faxes I’ve written, either for myself or for a client (with one small exception I’ll get to in a minute).
Why haven’t I cursed, when you’re supposed to write copy the same way you speak?
The answer is simple, and I learned this from the late Gary Halbert when I worked with him back in 2003. He explained to me that when it comes to money, people are dead serious about what they’re doing. Your buyers want to know that the person they’re opening their wallet for, is 100% committed to making their experience beneficial to them. They want to know you are as serious about them as they are.
And even though you should write like you speak, the truth is, you’d never speak to someone and curse in front of them if you were trying to sell them something, right?
This is one of the few times — at least for someone like myself — you want to hold back a bit and not be so “comfortable.” Focus on delivering benefits and making an impact that way. Establish rapport by showing empathy, not by being “cool,” and above all, keep your end goal in mind: creating a relationship.
And you do this by bringing great things to the table, and offering your prospects valuable items they can’t get anywhere else, not by being someone’s buddy.
Now here’s that one exception where I’ve used some curse words: When I’m writing to my own list of people who know me. For instance, in my offline newsletter I get pretty edgy, and once in a blue moon you’ll see me use the word “bullshit” in a sales letter, but only to those folks who already know me. Never to a cold list who has no idea who I am.
Here are a few examples, in fact, of some of the edgier headlines I’ve used in my offline newsletter.
“Bark Like A Dog And Roll Like A Pimp — Thank You!”
“There’s A Reason Why People Are Broke”
“Pass The Bong And Welcome To… Weed World!” (Pot NOT included!)
“Imagine Me, A Virgin… Again!”
“Now At Last… Anal Bleaching!”
“Homie Don’t Play That”
“D… Is For Dysfunctional, Right?”
“How Long Does It REALLY Take To Make A Million Dollars? Just ask me.”
“What Is Peter North’s Secret?” (It’s NOT what you’re thinking!)
“How to sell… V-V-V- Vaginal Suppositories! (Bonus: yeast infections NOT included)”
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Now go sell something, Craig Garber
P.S. Check out all the new products in the Kingdom, here: http://www.kingofcopy.com/products
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