I confess--I'm a marketing heretic! I've built my career on breaking all the
rules--and one of the rules I break is that I don't hype.
Do I put the best possible "spin" on the truth? Of course! But I refuse to
deceive my readers into action.
What are some of the common copywriter tricks that I *leave on the
Here are a few to start:
* If you order in the next 24 hours, you get... (face it. If you come back
tomorrow, the offer will almost always still hold)
* Get all these bonuses, valued at $999, for FREE with your $100 order
(yeah, right! And who set the value of these gifts? And are they for sale,
anywhere, on the open market at these prices?)
*Here's the information you requested (a GREAT statement--IF it's true--
but I get five or six a day in my e-box, from companies I've never heard
* Hi there, long-lost friend (and you sent it BCC?)
So why don't I like the copywriter's lies? And how do I write copy without
resorting to these deceits?
Well, first of all, I believe that if I want my words to sell a product, that
product should be strong enough to do so without tricking the buyer. I
know that if I trick someone, I may make a sale--but I've lost a customer
for life! Whereas if I show the merits, back up my claims, and focus on
the way this product solves a problem, eases a hurt or fear, or satisfies a
need, I will build that lifetime relationship.
Oh, and one more thing. I like to look in the mirror and see someone
who is doing good for the world--and I don't think lies and trickery will
accomplish that. I happen to have a gift for writing, and I use that gift to
make the world better. That includes being honest with my self and with
Much of the work I do is in the publishing industry. And here, the
competition is fierce. Roughly 175,000 new books are published in the
U.S. each year. Most of them will fail. My job is to help my clients' books
stand out in this dense crowd.
Example: I wrote a press release for a book on electronic privacy issues.
Here's my headline and lead. (Another rule I broke--never use the
headline as the lead sentence. It's the only time I've ever done it that
way, but in this case, I think the repetition made the point stronger.
Names have been changed to protect the author's privacy.)
It's 10 O'Clock--Do You Know Where Your Credit History Is?
HIBBING, MN: It's 10 O'clock--Do you know where your credit history is?
How about your employment records? Your confidential medical
How would you feel if you found out this sensitive and should-be-private
material is "vacationing" in computer databanks around the world--
accessible to corporate interests who can afford to track down and
purchase it, but not necessarily open to your own inspection.
According to electronic privacy journalist and technology consultant
Mortimer Gaines, this scenario is all-too-common?
No falsehoods, no hype--but a whole lot more captivating than the usual
"New Book on Electronic Privacy Released by Publisher."
Without tricking people, I want to capture interest...move the reader to
action...and still feel good about myself in the morning.
Yes, it can be done! I do it for clients every day, and have done so for
more than 20 years.
Shel Horowitz, author of *Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People
First,* *Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World,* and
four other books, offers affordable, effective copywriting and strategic
marketing planning to clients on three continents. He is the originator of
the Ethical Business Pledge Campaign to change the World at http://
www.principledprofits.com/25000influencers.html. His sites at http://
www.frugalmarketing.com and http://www.principledprofits.com offer
hundreds of useful articles for entrepreneurs and marketers, including
the complete back issues of his FREE Monthly Frugal Marketing Tips.
Shel will be glad to help you create your next press release, sell sheet,
web site, or other marketing material. He can be reached at