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Copywriting Tip: How to Infuriate Your Readers, Easily and Effortlessly

  • By Cathy Goodwin
  • Published 10/30/2008
  • Writing for the Web

In case you need another reason to learn copywriting: The whole idea of creating a website or ezine is to attract clients, right? But I’m constantly surprised to find websites that not only fail to attract clients. They actually insult their readers. Example 1: Writing for his ezine, a self-styled marketing expert compared troublesome clients to a serious fatal disease, which he named. Get rid of the disease and restore the health of your business, he advised. He acknowledged that he could be criticized for bad taste. No kidding. The author has a good point. it’s important to screen clients and your website can actually do this for you. But you can frame the challenge as skimming the cream, cherry-picking or some other metaphor that suggests you love your wonderful clients. No need to insult those who are all wrong for you. Maybe they’ll be just right for you someday. Example 2: Writing in her ezine, a well-known consultant vented her frustration with audiences who moan about advertisements on her complimentary calls. As she moved from presentation to conversation mode, she heard some loud groans along with, “Do we have to listen to this?” Hopefully we all realize these teleseminar calls always come with a brief promotion. Otherwise why would anyone offer them? My own audiences have been gracious and friendly, so I never hear so much as a whimper of complaint.

But this consultant treated her ezine readers to a rant. “Would you rather

see me on the street begging?” she asked. Gimme a break. I would just share my announcements, ignore any complaints and maybe keep the call in organizer mode a few minutes longer. There’s a good reason most of us mute our participants these days. Chances are the moaners are also alienating their fellow audience members. And while they’re loud, I bet only 1 or 2 are doing all the talking. The rest loved the class and want to hear more. Example 3: One copywriter’s home page sneers, “You think you can write your own copy? No way.” And a web designer’s email advertisement warned, “If you are like so many other coaches you need every last cent to build your business and keep food on the table.” Okay, we want to target a target market’s pain. But we can still honor them. “Sure, you can write your own copy,” you can say, “But are you ready to invest countless hours and thousands of dollars to learn from the pros? And is copywriting the best use of your time?” And if you’re worried about putting food on the table, you probably need to grab a job or find a business that attracts clients faster than catnip attracts cats and peanut butter attracts dogs. When we catch ourselves grinding our own axes, it’s time to review the basics. Why did we want to do this in the first place? Do we need an energy boost?

I have to resist writing this way myself after I’ve had a bad day or week. At those times, I find I’m better off escaping — walking the dog or reading my favorite murder mystery — instead of writing articles, ezines and website content.



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