Copywriting for the 21st Century
During a recent conference, I spent many an hour critiquing catalogs for managers hungry for ways to make their catalogs work smarter. I noticed one prevalent flaw: Most of the catalogs were written and designed for a customer who disappeared 10 years ago.
As surely as our world is changing, so is the public, particularly catalog prospects and customers. Today’s customers are:
• overloaded with information;
• overstimulated by world events; and
• feeling a financial pinch.
What’s more, customers are jaded from being force-fed hyperbole. And while catalogers have little control over the four issues above, they're often the ones who’ve let their mouths overstep their service capabilities and product benefits.
They’ve also allowed their fear of the tiny percentage of slimy customers affect how they treat all of their customers, even the best ones. Good, old-fashioned, lifetime guarantee copy has become asterisked and bland, with limited-time guarantees that imply they think customers will try to return a product well after they’ve used and abused it just to get their money back.
What are the key ingredients to writing copy that customers will want to read and be compelled by? How can you keep their attention long enough to form a relationship that will result not only in a first sale, but many future purchases as well?
1. Get to the Point
Most of us have felt our brains freeze and eyes glaze over when copy goes on and on without adding any compelling substance. Why does this happen?
First, the writers may be in love with their own words. They anxiously work to make sure everyone knows how clever they are. While those around them may be impressed, the customer is not.
Second, some merchants just can’t say enough about a product, and they demand it all be included in the description.