For over 10 years I sold housewares – stuff you’d see on an infomercial. Pots and pans, mops and brooms, slicers, dicers, sharpeners…you name it.
We did live demonstration sales at state fairs – “Step right up and see how it works!”
The thing was, a lot of the stuff I sold could be bought at the local WalMart.
And who wants to buy a set of cleaning supplies at a fair?
So we had to make the sale fast – before the customer figured all this out.
That meant gaining attention and keeping the audience focused for the 7-minute demo, in the middle of a hot, noisy, crowded fair.
And then making our shoe polish sound 10x better than the competitor’s.
The first step was getting the attention of people rushing down the aisles. The lights, signs, and salesperson made a big difference, but that only got them to stop momentarily.
The one thing we did that kept them engaged was something you can do in your copy, but you probably don’t. It’s the only way I’ve found to keep an audience reading.
It’s the classic promise to demonstrate something cool and show them “how it works”.
In good copywriting, we gain attention through great headlines, and keep our prospects reading by offering a reward for reading through – something useful, interesting, and relevant. Every sentence of good copy has to be engaging.
Sure, the copy layout should be inviting – that could mean a clean look, lots of graphics, colors, handwriting, graphs – these are the typical tools of a good sales letter or online pitch. And if a piece looks attractive, your prospect may grant you a few seconds of their attention.
But unless your headline or subject line makes a compelling offer, your promo won’t even be noticed.
For example, today I received (among hundreds of promotions) emails touting “A spice to prevent brain breakdown”, “A lesson on investing with the government”, and “A tip to cook a turkey in half the time”. Each of these came through pretty well on the promise, but without it I wouldn’t have even opened the email.
But most of the “promotions” were turnoffs:
“Check out the latest in replacement windows” – more compelling would have been something like “How to save $2220 a year in energy costs – just by following these 3 steps”
“Browse our all new shed guides” – not interested in a shed, but I am always looking for storage solutions.
“FREE: Ancient Secret” – Who bothers with stuff like this?
Each of these could have been reworked to imply a promise, or gift, within the copy. The point is to imply it will be worthwhile to open the envelope and read through.
BOTTOM LINE: Make sure your headline or subject line compels the reader to open your promotional piece. Make a subtle promise…and keep it.
7 Deadly Mistakes of Website Content
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