Hang on…where is the dancing bear?

I feel I know you well enough now, to share this…

A few years back, I messed up a sale – the second I opened my mouth.

And I want you to learn from it.

See, I was asked in to consult with an engineering firm. And as I sat in the boardroom with their marketing guys, their CEO popped his head round the door…just to say hi.

And the first thing I said to him…?

It wasn’t “How are you?”, or “Thanks for asking me in”. Not even straight-to-business stuff like “What’s your goal for today?”

Nope. Not me. It was “Have you got an amazing dancing bear?”

True. And as you’ve probably guessed, I wasn’t invited back!

Now, if you’re a certain age, you might be ahead of me here. Yes, his name was Simon Smith – as in the Alan Price classic hit, Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear.

I made a deal with myself years ago: if I ever meet a Simon Smith, I have to ask after the bear.

Circumstances don’t matter. We could meet at a funeral – I’m still going to ask. Or he could be a doctor, giving me terminal news. The bear question’s still coming up.

It’s not even that funny, I know. But something deep inside me says, it has to be done.

So the take-away? This:

Some people say, there’s no place for humour in business. Others say, it’s always welcome. But me, I’m somewhere in the middle.

When you’re building relationships, with emails or blogs or whatever, a touch of humour can work wonders. I don’t mean, stick a knock-knock joke in the middle of your “7 Ways To Get More Sales”…but the odd tongue-in-cheek comment or flippant remark can go down well.

It shows you’re human.

But, there comes a time when the jokes have to stop, and you get down to business. Like, when I met SS in the boardroom – no regrets, but clearly it wasn’t the time or place.

So when it comes to copy…?

The getting-down-to-business moment is the sales landing page or letter. There ain’t no place for wisecracks there. You’ll take the buyer’s eye off the ball…and get them wondering if you take the sharp end of your business seriously. Not wise.

I mention this because, someone said to me last week – “I tried writing a sales page in the same style as your emails, and it bombed!”

Well, duh. Of course it bombed! What do you expect?

Joke a little as they get to know you, if it builds rapport. But (ffs), don’t get cute when you make the sale.

Only exception being, if you’re selling to current customers who have a relaxed relationship with you…then all bets are off.

Anyway – food for thought. And if you know a Simon Smith, well, you know what to do…

Meet the Author

James Daniel

You might not know who James is...but you've probably read his copy. Through high street clients like Hidden Hearing, or big gun marketers like Jonathan Jay and Chris Cardell. His words are out there, pulling in new business every month. What else? Well his books, Do You Talk Like That at Home? and Direct Mail 101 will help you squeeze out more sales. Oh yeah - and his next book Before You JFDI will help you plan your next campaign. Get on the list for a free advance copy here.

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