So be sure to back up your emotional pitch with logic to nurture that justification at the end. And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk a moment about perceived “hype” in a sales letter. A lot of more “conservative” advertisers have decided that they don’t like hype, because they consider hype to be old news, been-there-and-done-that, my customers won’t fall for hype, it’s not believable anymore.
What they should realize is that hype itself does not sell well. Some less experienced copywriters often try to compensate for their lack of research or not fully understanding their target market or the product itself by adding tons of adjectives and adverbs and exclamation points and big bold type. If you do your job right, it’s just not needed.
That’s not to say some adverbs or adjectives don’t have their place…only if they’re used sparingly, and only if they advance the sale. But I think you’d agree that backing up your copy with proof and believability will go a lot farther in convincing your prospects than “power words” alone. I say power words, because there are certain adverbs and adjectives that have been proven to make a difference when they’re included. This by itself is not hype. But repeated too often, they become less effective, and they take away (at least in your prospect’s mind) from the proof.
Incorporating Proof and Believability.
When your prospect reads your presentation, you want to make sure he should believe any claims you make about your product or service. Because if there’s any doubt in his mind, he won’t bite, no matter how sweet the deal. In fact, the “too good to be true” mentality will virtually guarantee a lost sale…even if it is all true.
So what can you do to increase the perception of believability? Because after all, it’s the perception you need to address up front. But of course you also must make sure your copy is accurate and truthful.
Here are some tried and tested methods that will help:
- If you’re dealing with existing customers who already know you deliver as promised, emphasize that trust. Don’t leave it up to them to figure it out. Make them stop, cock their heads, and say, “Oh, yeah. The ABC Company has never done me wrong before. I can trust them.”
- Include testimonials of satisfied customers. Be sure to put full names and locations, where possible. Remember, “A.S.” is a lot less believable than “Andy Sherman, Voorhees, NJ.” If you can also include a picture of the customer and/or a professional title, that’s even better. It doesn’t matter that your testimonials aren’t from somebody famous or that your prospect does not know these people personally. If you have enough compelling testimonials, and they’re believable, you’re much better off than not including them at all.
- Pepper your copy with facts and research findings to support your claims. Be sure to credit all sources, even if the fact is common knowledge, because a neutral source goes a long way towards credibility.
- For a direct mail letter or certain space presentations where the copy is in the form of a letter from a specific individual, including a picture of that person helps. But unlike “traditional” real estate letters and other similar presentations, I’d put the picture at the end near your signature, or midway through the copy, rather than at the top where it will detract from your headline. And…if your sales letter is from a specific individual, be sure to include his credentials to establish him as an expert in his field (relating to your product or service, of course).
- If applicable, cite any awards or third-party reviews the product or service has received.
- If you’ve sold a lot of widgets, tell them. It’s the old “10 million people can’t be wrong” adage (they can be, but your prospect will likely take your side on the matter).
- Include a GREAT return policy and stand by it! This is just good business policy. Many times, offering a double refund guarantee for certain products will result in higher profits. Yes, you’ll dish out more refunds, but if you sell three times as many widgets as before, and only have to refund twice as much as before, it may be worth it, depending on your offer and return on investment. Crunch the numbers and see what makes sense. More importantly, test! Make them think, “Gee, they wouldn’t be so generous with returns if they didn’t stand behind their product!”
- If you can swing it, adding a celebrity endorsement will always help to establish credibility. Heck, if ‘ol honest Abe Lincoln recommended your product and backs up your claims, it must be true! Ok, you get the idea, though. When it makes sense, use 3rd party testimonials. What are 3rd party testimonials? Here’s some examples from some Web site copy I wrote when there weren’t many customer testimonials available yet:
“Spyware, without question, is on an exponential rise over the last six months.” -Alfred Huger, Senior Director of Engineering, Symantec Security Response (maker of Norton security software)
“Simply clicking on a banner presentation can install spyware.” -Dave Methvin, Chief Technology Officer, PC Pitstop.
Do you notice what I did? I took quotes from experts in their respective fields and turned them to my side. But…be sure to get their consent or permission from the copyright holder if there’s ever any question about copyrighted materials as your source. Note that I also pushed an emotional hot button: fear. It’s been proven that people will generally do more to avoid pain than to obtain pleasure. So why not use that tidbit of info to your advantage?
- Reveal a flaw about your product. This helps alleviate the “too good to be true” syndrome. You reveal a flaw that isn’t really a flaw. Or reveal a flaw that is minor, just to show that you’re being “up front” about your product’s shortcomings.
“You’re probably thinking right now that this tennis racket is a miracle worker—and it is. But I must tell you that it has one little…shortcoming. My racket takes about 2 weeks to get used to. In fact, when you first start using it, your game will actually get worse. But if you can just ride it out, you’ll see a tremendous improvement in your volleys, net play, serves, …” And so on.
There’s a tendency to think, with all of the presentations that we are bombarded with today that every advertiser is always putting his best foot forward, so to speak. And I think that line of reasoning is accurate, to a point.
But isn’t it refreshing when someone stands out from the crowd and is honest? In other words, your reader will start to subconsciously believe that you are revealing all of the flaws, even though your best foot still stands forward.
Use “lift notes.” These are a brief note or letter from a person of authority. Not necessary a celebrity, although that can add credibility, too. A person of authority is someone well recognized in their field (which is related to your product) that they are qualified to talk about. Lift notes may be distributed as inserts, a separate page altogether, or even as part of the copy itself. As always, test!
- If you are limiting the offer with a deadline “order by” date, be sure the deadline is real and does not change. Deadline dates that change every day are sure to reduce credibility. The prospect will suspect, “if his deadline date keeps changing, he’s not telling the truth about it…I wonder what else he’s not telling the truth about.” The deadline date must be maintained.
I hope that you will take the above some seriously and attempt over them after due consideration to your individual circumstances.
Be Happy – Do Effective Presentation for Early success.