Author & Consultant
of my clients shrink
from using hype in their marketing messages.
Hype is a style of
overexcited, exaggerated writing that can fire up the eager reader, but at
the cost of trust or credibility in the eyes of someone who is
temperamentally or professionally skeptical.
For instance, here is a hype-y headline of the sort found all around the
Internet: "If You Can Write Your Name, You Can Write and Publish a
Book in 7 Days - Guaranteed!"
Having been a writing teacher,
I know that the only way such a claim could be valid would be to play
games with the accepted meanings of the words "write" or
"book." People who can write their name cannot necessarily write
a coherent sentence or paragraph -- much less have enough ideas in their
head to fill a book of average length. Because of its implausibility, such
a headline is all the more appealing to those who feel impatient for
Many copywriting experts hold that if a headline or marketing pitch sells
and is not downright illegal for some reason, it's the right way to write.
However, I support my clients' instinctive recoil from hype and help them
with more truthful yet still lively and appealing persuasive techniques.
You can create vivid, powerfully persuasive copy without crossing the line
into hype by learning these
No-hype Technique #1:
Create rapport with the reader
Think your way into the mind of your ideal customer and express what
they're thinking and feeling. Then build on that. This wins over readers
by connecting with where they are and showing them the next logical step.
Wishing that your book in
progress could just finish itself already? Writing a book can be an
exercise in procrastination, frustration and roadblocks. But when you
use the "Two-a-Day" Method, your book gets completed easily,
steadily and finally.
No-hype Technique #2: Use
emotional words and phrases
Dry, matter-of-fact language isn't as persuasive as wording that
acknowledges and expresses what's at stake in the customer's situation and
the feelings involved.
BEFORE: Our database
offers detailed listings of more than $3.7 billion in available
AFTER: Access to our members-only database of more than $3.7
billion in free, no-strings-attached scholarship money means you can
attend the college of your dreams without enslaving yourself to future
No-hype Technique #3: Add
For every general concept you want to mention, substitute or add specific,
concrete details. Abstractions and generalities never hit home as
well as statements containing numbers, names, places, stories and other
specifics. Also, general statements have little impact because they
sound like things we've all heard a zillion times. Copywriters call
the technique of adding detail
"dimensionalizing" because it turns a square little statement
into a 3-D patterned shape that the reader has never quite encountered
In these two examples from Paul Lemberg's home page, the section in
parentheses dimensionalizes the claim just before it:
How to boost sales
quickly; (50-100% year-over-year sales
increase is not unusual among my clients.)
profits and build long-term equity;
(One client recently sold their company for three times
what they had been led to expect by the so-called expert
No-hype Technique #4: Pair
problems with solutions
Listing problem after problem that a product solves or prevents can come
across as unbelievable and even depressing. The opposite strategy,
listing benefit after
benefit from the product, can seem too good to be true. When you link the
problem with the solution and at least hint at a reason for the positive
result, customers feel they're getting something solid and valuable when
To illustrate this, here are three bullet points from Susan C. Daffron's
description of her book "Happy Hound: Develop a Great Relationship
With Your Adopted
Dog or Puppy":
The two main reasons dogs
generally jump on people and
four ways to convince the dog you really don't need that
type of greeting
Six safety instructions
you must teach your children not
to do to avoid dog bites and the four things they should
always do if they encounter a dog they don't know
Three keys for surviving
"canine adolescence." As with
human children, adolescence is a time when dogs test limits
and try your patience!
(By the way, the numbers in
those bullets help dimensionalize the book's content, exemplifying tip
No-hype Technique #5: Paint vivid scenarios
Feed the reader's imagination
with what can realistically happen after they buy your product or service. You're
not promising this will happen, but by putting the reader into the future,
he or she pictures it happening and feels motivated to have the result.
Here, for instance, is how I fed the reader's imagination in promotional
copy for my report, "Marcia's Makeovers: 24 Press Releases
Transformed from So-So to Sizzling":
I challenge you to cite a
greater return on investment than that produced by a world-class media
release that lands you on page 1 of a major newspaper, in a two-page
spread in your top industry magazine or in the fluffy final segment of a
network newscast. Just one major score like this, and you can milk
the credibility payoff for your business practically forever. Inspire a
feature story that gets picked up by the Associated Press, and enjoy
people all over the world clamoring to get their hands on what you sell.
No-hype Technique #6: Incite
Reread the bullet points for
tip #4, and if you have any interest at all in dog behavior, you'll find
you really, really want to know the techniques that are described there in
an incomplete yet tempting fashion. Reference to the "Two-a-Day"
Method has the same kind of effect -- the reader wants to know
"two of what?" Show a little while holding something back.
Like the other five techniques described here, enticing the reader is a
truthful, effective, no-hype way to make the reader want to step forward
copywriter and marketing consultant
Marcia Yudkin is the author of Persuading on Paper,
6 Steps to Free Publicity and nine other books.
She runs a one-on-one mentoring program that trains
copywriters and marketing consultants.
For more information, go to http://www.yudkin.com/become.htm
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