I hate hype. There, I’ve said it.
I hate aggressive, in-yer-face type copy that exaggerates to the nth degree. And says “Buy it or you’re a worthless tosser”.
Exponents call it “killer copy”. And they stuff it with OTT pants, like “kick-ass”…”ninja”…”turbo-boost”…”skyrocket”…and the all-time classic “on steroids”. As in:
“Follow my killer ‘Cash Flood Ninja’ System and turbo-boost your profits. It’s the dead simple kick-ass way to SKYROCKET your profits and put your life ON STEROIDS!!!!”
(And for effect, you can add “babycakes” on the end. If you like).
Jay Abraham, a true marketing legend, calls this “veneer copywriting”. Because it superficially follows a formula, but there’s no substance behind it. He’s spot on.
Okay, I’ll admit, there are places where this stuff can work. If you’re selling Get-Rich-Quick tat, then yep – go fill your boots.
Same if you’re selling weight loss products, or health supplements, to the lazy, gullible end of the market. You can make inflated promises of impossibly fast results, and yeah…you’ll get some sales.
Even if you lose your soul.
But here’s the thing.
Working in those niches is one thing. Working outside? Not going to happen. And veneer copywriters don’t make that distinction. They’ll apply the same “killer” style. Whatever they sell, and whoever’s buying.
It. Does. Not. Work.
I mean – you imagine writing in that style to a list of Daily Mail readers! To sell a hedge fund. Or a pension. Or a hearing aid. Good luck with that.
Right now, I’m writing a consumer guide to choosing a flat roof. Helping affluent seniors to make the right choice. And guess what? I’m not saying this….
Our kick-ass waterproof membrane will turbo-shrink your fuel bills. Believe it baby, it’s gonna knock your old roof outa the ballpark!!
The retired librarian from Tunbridge Wells would take one look and think “That’s a bit off”.
“OK JD, so if hype is off the table, what does work?”
Er, honesty. Painful honesty, in fact. To the point of owning up to your flaws. All in a simple, chatty style. So it feels like you’re talking to your readers – not at them.
Copywriting Master Drayton Bird calls this “The Nodding Effect”: if you can get the reader nodding along, you’ve got them on the hook.
You won’t get that with aggression. You’ll get it with gentle empathy. Or to quote an old phrase, “You’ll attract more flies with honey than you’ll ever get with vinegar”.
So, the big hairy takeaway?
This. If you hire a copywriter, and they hit you with hyped-up garbage…insisting “That’s what works”…take a long, hard look at your audience. Is “kick-ass” really gonna cut it?
Or, if you’re writing your own copy, learn to make it simple and conversational. An easy read, where the message is clear. So it’s taken in, at a glance.
My book, Do You Talk Like That At Home? shows you how to do this.
Social Media expert Allan Blair Beaton says it “might just be one of the handiest books I’ve got in my library.”
And Vicky Fraser – one of my favourite copywriters – says “Forget EVERYTHING you learned on business courses. Read this book, and you’ll be well on your way to selling more stuff, to more people, more often. And probably at higher prices.”
That’s their view. But obvs, you should make up your own mind. So grab it on Amazon here.
It’s a tiny investment, just £8.99 – or even less on Kindle. So it ain’t gonna make me rich!
But, it might work wonders for you….