You’ve likely seen promotions with shocking headlines before, like “Read This or Die!” Maybe you found them persuasive and they got you to buy. But there’s a good chance they didn’t.
If you want to know how to get good at persuasive writing, I’m here to let you know that blatant sales pitches — ones that scream “give me your money” — are no longer as effective as they once were.
In fact, according to industry experts, advertorial copy performs much better than hype-y sales promotions in today’s market.
What do I mean by advertorial? Copy that sells ideas and stimulates the reader’s thinking processes. Teaching and informing your readers is a much more effective approach to persuasive writing than directly trying to sell your product.
This information was incredibly liberating for me. After all, it’s not my natural style to go for the “in-your-face” sale — shocking, I know. Even so, some of my clients have preferred a hard-sell approach in their copy so I’ve done the best I could for them.
Not surprisingly, when I examine my track record, I find that my most successful promotions, by far, are the ones that educate prospects, rather than pitch them. How better to sell someone on what you have than by giving them plenty of reasons why?
Think of it this way…
When we were kids, we always wanted to know “why,” right? Back then, we would never let adults get away with a simple “just because” answer.
Well, as we become adults, our need to know “why?” is just as strong — we still want to understand the reason behind things.
As you grow into your copywriting career, remember the more “reasons why” you give a prospect — the more educated he becomes about a subject — the less he actually has to be sold. In essence, he closes himself a little bit more with every morsel of information he consumes. Persuasive writing, when done well, essentially lets your reader make up his own mind to buy your product.
Claude Hopkins, considered by many to be the “father” of modern advertising, had this to say about giving away a lot of information:
“There are other ways, I know, to win in selling and advertising. But they are slow and uncertain. Ask a person to take a chance on you, and you have a fight. Offer to take a chance on him, and the way is easy.
“I have always taken chances on the other fellow. I have analyzed my proposition until I made sure that he had the best end of the bargain. Then I had something that people could not well neglect.”
Here’s an example of how Claude went the extra mile to educate prospects and, in the process, turned his client into a household name:
In the early 1900s, Claude was hired to do advertising work for a brewing company called Schlitz Beer. In those days, a beer’s purity was very important to consumers. So all breweries were crying “Pure” as loud as they could, but not one of them ever actually proved their beer was pure. As a result, the claims had no effect on consumers.
Claude went to the Schlitz Brewery so he could learn firsthand the process of brewing beer. What he witnessed amazed him.
He learned the brewery got the purest water they could possibly get by installing artesian wells that went down 4,000 feet deep. He discovered the beer was aged in vats for six months before it went out to the user. He saw the original mother yeast cell that had been developed by 1,200 experiments to bring out the utmost in flavor. All the yeast used in making Schlitz Beer came from that original cell.
They showed him how they cleaned every pump and pipe, twice daily, to avoid contamination. He saw enormous filters filled with wooden pulp and they explained how that filtered the beer.
He saw plate-glass rooms where beer was dripping over pipes. When he asked what was going on, he was told those rooms were filled with filtered air, so the beer could be cooled in purity. And he learned that every bottle was cleaned four times by machinery to ensure it was sterilized.
Stunned, Claude asked his client, “Why do you just try to yell louder than others that your beer is pure? Why don’t you tell people all these things?”
The client didn’t understand. He said, “The processes we use are the exact same everyone else uses. No one can make good beer without them.”
But Claude was convinced that people would be fascinated with a “behind-the-scenes” look at how they did things. So he explained this whole process in his marketing. By doing so, he gave “purity” a meaning. Within months, Schlitz Beer soared from being the fifth largest… to the number one selling beer in America.
What’s the moral of the story?
Instead of telling prospects about your product, show them. Give them plenty of reasons why. That way, your reader will convince himself that the product is worthy. And when he does that, it has a lot more persuasive writing “oomph!” than if you were to convince him of the same thing — through hype or otherwise.