Creative & Copywriting: Copy and Design in the Face of a Struggling Economy
I read in the news that this past Black Friday revealed a new consumer: one who's cash-only and who arrives at the store with shopping lists in tow to keep their focus narrowed so they won't get distracted into spending more than they planned. Ouch!
This consumer behavior — while very wise, considering the state of the economy — increases retailers' challenge to sell direct. Consumers today are trying with all their might to resist the emotional buying habits they've fallen victim to before.
Of course, we've been talking about this struggling economy for so long, it seems like old news. Despite the rays of hope seen recently, retailers are a long way from the robust spending days they enjoyed for so long, I'm afraid to say.
Copywriters and designers must consider the mood of their audience to create attention-grabbing headlines and design. Creative teams should also understand how to sell to an audience that's more reluctant to part with their cash than they were two years ago.
Does this mean that your message has to be strictly about belt tightening, doom and gloom? No, not at all. That said, there's a careful balance that must be dealt with in today's marketing campaigns. Remember, this is sensitive territory.
Successfully selling in this difficult environment requires a keen understanding of the selling process. Every good creative person — i.e., copywriter or designer — should know these steps. Messaging must then be fine-tuned so that it's applicable to consumers in a strapped economy.
Use Creative as the Salesman
If you've ever read books written by experienced salespeople, you must be familiar with the process they use to make a sale:
1. Get prospects' attention with something they care about. Emails, catalog covers, homepages, outgoing envelopes, etc., must put your best foot forward in terms of in-demand products and clear messaging that teases or delights. Photography must sparkle. It's time to fine-tune your brand so it's appealing enough that consumers will look into it for possible purchases.
2. Present your product benefits that matter most to prospects. When you do, consider each consumer's needs at the time — e.g., convenience, value, comfort, fun. This isn't the time to talk about big savings; talking about price and price comparison is putting the cart before the horse.
Prestige can be a benefit, but use it carefully in this economy. You can use that lever in the luxury goods market, but it may seem in bad taste in many others. Customers must feel that they're being smart when making a purchase, not extravagant.
3. Present product features that appeal to consumers' cognitive side (the part of them that's seeking justification for their purchase). This is often the place sales pitches fail. Remember that benefits are more emotional and draw in prospects. Features simply confirm that this product has everything they need.
4. Eliminate other barriers to consideration, such as telling consumers about your risk-free guarantee. Show them how easy it is to order. Share testimonials from other happy customers.
At this point, the shopper is seeking an out, particularly because the pressure's on to NOT spend. This is your last chance to convince them that your product is worth their time and money.
And since they're interested enough to have gotten this far, they're hoping you give them some final "icing on the cake" that will justify to them why this is something they must buy.
The guarantee is probably one of the most important aspects of this group of levers. It's time for you to look carefully at yours to make sure it really provides value. Tests show that a no-time-limit, money-back guarantee is most likely to improve response (and an increase in returns is unlikely). People really do want their purchase to work out.
5. Ask for orders using a clear call to action, providing a few different ways to place orders so customers can make a purchase their preferred way. This is no time to be coy. Remind them that their purchase will be a very smart one.
Are you offering payment by credit card? Probably. Are you offering PayPal as another payment option? If not, it's time to add it to your payment options. Consumers are using PayPal more than ever. Reflect your ease of ordering by placing credit card and PayPal logos on your order form, as well as the shopping cart and checkout areas of your website.
Also, consider a one-page checkout as an improvement to what you have now. Remember, every time a shopper moves to another page of your website, your odds of converting them go down.
Now it's time to review how you're selling your product or service. Consider the methodology that the most successful marketers use, and compare it to the steps you're taking. Then, find ways to follow these steps yourself.
After that, sit back and enjoy stronger sales!