- By Cathy Goodwin
- Published 06/29/2009
- Writing for the Web
- Rating: Unrated
Online marketing is one of the best ways for independent professionals to attract clients. You don’t have to leave home. You don’t have to spend time and money on rubber chicken lunches. Your car stays in the garage: no parking, tolls, or gas. Instead, you reach thousands of prospects all over the world (and a surprising number who live down the block). But attracting those prospects through online marketing means you need a web site or blog with compelling content. You need to be persuasive. Here’s where many professionals balk. They tell their copywriters, “I want great copy — but don’t give me anything sales-y or hype-y.” Frankly, I can relate to this question because I asked the same thing, almost word for word, when I first studied copywriting. “My audience is different,” I said. “They’re professionals. Many have advanced degrees. I can’t insult their intelligence.” But I realized I was paying to learn copywriting so I tried an experiment with one of my information products. I added some proven sales phrases, mixed in some high-flying bullets, closed my eyes, crossed my fingers and posted the new page. And guess what…this product started to attract buyers. My educated, sniffy target market? They sent me testimonials. What was happening? I didn’t know then but I do now.
First, people surfing the web are usually
not looking for intellectual stimulation. They’re searching for solutions to problems. They are hurting. It’s like going to the Emergency Room when you’re in intense pain. (I’ve only had to do this once in my life, but it was enough.) You aren’t checking out the decor of the place, making small talk with the staff or hoping you get a good looking doctor. You definitely are not picking up pamphlets to satisfy your curiosity about some esoteric disease. You just want someone to make the pain go away — fast. And I bet you’re not asking, “How much does will it cost?” even if you’re buried up to your ears in credit card debt. That’s how most serious buyers surf the Internet. They’ve got boyfriends who just dumped them, corns on their toes, a business that’s draining their savings, or a house that won’t sell. It’s no accident that Stop Your Divorce has long been an Internet best seller. Second, when you’re looking for a solution, you will read copy as helpful, not hype-y. Try this easy experiment. Keep a folder of junk mail. Notice which pieces you read (or consider reading) and which seem hype-y and sales-y.
For example, I get unsolicited mail for insurance companies. No interest. I read their messages as hype-y. But I also get mail about DSL services from Qwest, Comcast and Verizon. Now, I am considering changing my service, so I find those pieces helpful and informative. For these services, slogans like, “Locked and Loaded Triple Play” actually rouse my curiosity.