How to Make Your Copy Recession Proof

Reprinted from my July – 2008 Newsletter:

Someone said to me the other day I don t know if we re in a recession or not, but it sure feels like it.
Well, when the economy is uncertain, great copy is even more important.
So this newsletter is dedicated to helping you “sell-well” even in the down markets.

The Concept: Tell them why and then they’ll buy

There are only three reasons that prospects don’t buy from you…

1. They don t want or need what you’re selling.
It s always important to target your marketing to reach only your legitimate prospects.

2. They truly can’t afford what you’re selling.
This one only counts if it’s true, and they’re not just using it as a handy excuse.

The third and most often real reason why people don’t buy

3. They just don’t believe you.
You haven’t built enough credibility with your prospects. One of the best, most effective ways to establish this credibility is to let them in on your inside secrets.

Let them in on your philosophy; your rationale. Let them in on the “reason why” you’re doing what you’re doing.

Most businesses try to keep everything about their business a big secret. They don’t want anyone to know the inside workings of their operation.

Often, they’re more concerned about their competitors finding out something (which the competitors probably already know), than they are about using it to their advantage to get more customers.

In reality, it’s these very “secrets” that would attract a customer to want to do business with them in the first place.

If you are offering a product at a particularly low price, tell your prospects why.

And tell them the truth.

Don’t try to make it sound like you’re cutting your prices just because you’re “a nice guy, or that you’re doing it simply because “you like them.

They won’t believe you.

You run a business… not a charity.

Maybe you are severely overstocked on one item and you need to get rid of some to make room for something else.

If that’s the case, tell them.

Maybe right now you have a thousand summer widgets and the summer is rapidly approaching it’s end, so you need to move them or store them for a year.

If that’s the case, tell the customers.

Maybe the cost to store those widgets would add another 20% to what you’ve already invested in them, therefore, you’d rather sell them all right now at a deep discount. In fact, you’ll sell them for 10% below your cost.

By doing so, your customers will get an amazing value, and you’ll come out better too.

Perhaps you have to make a big loan payment and business has been down so you’re having an emergency sale.

Don’t be embarrassed, tell them.

Maybe your product is less pricey because of a trivial manufacturing flaw. Tell your prospects all about it.

Tell them how the flaw is barely noticeable, and that without it, this product would sell for twice the price. Tell them how fortunate they are to get such a great bargain on an otherwise perfect product. Tell them the reason why.

If your price is lower because you have lower overhead, don’t just say: “Our low overhead means lower prices.” Tell them why.

Maybe you work out of a home office, so you have no lease payment to make every month, or perhaps you’re located on an out of the way side street instead of the mall, and pay a much lower rent.

If your low overhead is because you are located in the rural area out of town, tell them that.

You might point out in your ads that the average rent is X dollars per square foot in the city, but you only pay Y dollars. Therefore each item you sell reflects that savings.

If you are making a special introductory offer to get people to try you for the first time, say so.

Tell them that once they try your product or service they’ll fall in love with it and keep using it. Therefore, you’re willing to sell it at your cost the first time, or even provide a free sample, just to get them to try you once. Whatever the reason, tell them.

If you are offering a special deal because you just bought a large shipment of factory closeouts, tell them how the price for these goods is usually X dollars, but that you just bought the entire final production run from the factory, so you got them for much less.

Tell your prospects that instead of pricing these closeouts at your normal price and making twice your normal profit, you’d rather use them to help move some other item that you’re overstocked in.

Explain that for every one of the slower moving items they buy, you’ll let them have one of the closeouts at half price.

How about this one?

We once saw a small company that ran a quarter page ad once a week, and their larger competitor, that sold the same goods, ran three full page ads every week. Guess what the smaller company said in their ads?

We sell the exact same goods as XYZ Company, but we sell them for less. Why? It s because our competitor runs a full page ad three times a week in your local paper. That ad costs X dollars. Multiply that times three, and it comes up to a hefty bill every week.

But we, on the other hand, only spend Y dollars on this small ad, once a week. And that means that our average price can be 11% lower than theirs.

The best part about it is they actually put the exact numbers and percentages in the ad. It is so detailed and specific, that you couldn’t help but to believe it.

On the other hand, if your prices are higher, tell them the reason why.

Maybe it’s because your product lasts 10 times longer than the average product so you back it with a lifetime guarantee; or that your product requires less maintenance, or has lower operating costs which saves X dollars over it’s life so that it actually ends up costing it’s owner less to use.

If your prices are a little higher because you have three times the service or support staff, and provide a higher level of service, tell them that.

Explain that your prices are 5% higher than your competitors, but explain the superior level of service that you provide is 99% better.

Maybe you make house calls, or include regular maintenance at no additional cost, or provide on site training. Show them how, for a few cents more, they can save time, effort, and frustration by shopping with you.

If your prices are higher because you can respond to a service call in two hours instead of the six hours that your competitors take, tell them.

Remind them of the cost of “down time,” and all of the other things they could be doing during that 4 hour difference.

Always tell them the reason why you are doing something and your prospects will probably believe you. But as always, tell the truth.

Here’s a perfect example of a case where the true reason why (although slightly embarrassing), allowed another marketer to turn a potentially devastating situation into an incredibly profitable one.

Back when VHS tapes were new to the world (not fossils) these guys had five video stores. Part of the movie inventory was a section of (ahem) adult movies.

A segment of the market wanted the ability to rent those tapes and watch them in the privacy of their own homes. (Nasty, nasty, nasty!).

They carefully and discreetly met this “want” without offending those who did not wish to see these tapes.

Anyway, this part of their business started to decline as more and more family videos became available on video tape.

Also, at about the same time, quite a stir was building about pornography, and a “grass roots movement against adult video rentals was gaining momentum. (yeah! I think pornography is horrible and destructive!)

A few Congressmen had even introduced some quite restrictive legislation to help curtail it.
These guys felt that the “handwriting was on the wall, and decided that they should get out of that part of the business.

The problem was that they had about 8,000 adult tapes in their inventory, representing a significant investment (each tape cost them $30-$70 and retailed for $60-$120).

They decided to run a full page ad explaining there situation and offering the tapes at a deep discount.

Take a look at the headline and some excerpts from that ad…

Why Would We Sell $100 Movies For $14.99?

I’m writing to alert you to an embarrassing situation, but first you must agree not to laugh or be offended by the subject matter because frankly, it’s a little bit unusual and a little bit of a “Hot Potato.”

IT’S ADULT MOVIES… now don’t laugh; you promised!

My brother and I have an embarrassing and frustrating problem we would like to share with you both in confidence and in the form of an opportunity.

First, the problem: There are a bunch of people in Congress who are hell bent on doing away with your rights as they affect things like Adult Movies and magazines.

I’m not saying adult movies are good or bad, only that people should have the right to make their own choices.

That notwithstanding, the truth of the matter is some heavyweights in Congress have introduced legislation that’s going to make it illegal to rent adult movies.

That really ticks me off, not so much about not being able to rent adult tapes, because frankly, that’s a matter of personal preference, but with all the scandals in Washington, they should get their own house in order before they mess with yours!

Nevertheless, we have a real problem. Besides taking away some of everybody’s rights, they’re going to take away about 8,000 of our movies!

We’ve got to decide what to do before that occurs…

(Blah, Blah, Blah the ad continues and eventually offers $100 tapes for $14.99 and for every five you buy you got a sixth free).

Now, I ain t including the rest of the ad here.

Imagine the individuals descending on the stores during that? Makes me shudder

Just for the record, my personal opinion is adult movies are one of the things that has helped chip away at the morality of mankind.

And while some see it as entertainment, or eroticism and approve of it, the truth is porn is evil. Not based on MY opinion, but on the evidence that it has NEVER produced a documented long term positive effect on ANY society, relationship or individual – (and wealth generated from porn is no better than wealth from drugs or any other illegal activity).

AND also just for the record, I used to think it WAS great when I was a dumb kid…I learned differently!

Okay, now back to the ad.

They truthfully explained their problem in such a way as to tell the reader exactly why they were making such an incredible offer?

Well, merely by explaining their problem and the reason for the sale in that one ad, they sold all of their tapes in just a few days. That one ad generated over a hundred thousand dollars practically overnight.

All because they told the reason why!

Now if this can work with something as evil as adult tapes, don t you think it could work for your products too?

When you don’t tell the reason why, your prospects will be more concerned with trying to figure out your ulterior motive than with honestly considering the purchase.

And that can rob you of thousands of dollars of sales.

Of course, even when you do tell the reason why, customers and prospects still feel a certain amount of risk when they do business with you; especially for the first time.

The reason you have to tell your prospects why you’re willing to do something or why your product is better, more expensive, or cheaper, is to build credibility.

Credibility is one of the most important elements of any ad. Without it, your sales go right down the tube.

How can you build credibility?

It’s actually not that hard. Try following these simple “rules.”

The single biggest and most universally powerful thing you can do to increase your believability is…

1. Tell the truth!

Sure, it sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people have trouble doing this.

Tell the truth. You can still present your case in the most compelling and convincing manner possible, but don’t lie.

There’s a big difference between acceptable embellishment and outright lying. Don’t cross that line.

2. Be sincere.

If people don’t think you’re sincere in what you say, it doesn’t matter how true it is, they still won’t believe you.

Although the lack of truthfulness and sincerity can easily kill your marketing efforts, their presence alone doesn’t go very far towards guaranteeing marketing success.

You need to do more; a lot more.

You need to build a solid case for your offer, the strongest case you can make.

Imagine you’re an attorney. Your client has been charged with first degree murder and you know deep down in your very soul that he’s not guilty.

Are you going to simply say (with all sincerity), “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client is simply not guilty. And that’s the truth!”

Of course not. No lawyer would. Even though the prosecutor has to prove his case beyond any reasonable doubt, any good lawyer is going to try to prove his client innocent.

And to do that, he’s got to build the strongest case possible for his client.

Well, in a sense, you’re the attorney for your offer and the prospect is the judge and jury. The only way to win your case is to build a solid case to the jury.

If the jury buys your case, they buy your product or service. If not, they sentence your offer to death by disposal and promptly throw it away. And you don’t even get to appeal the verdict. That’s the way it works.

So how do you build a solid case for your offer?

The major ingredients of any convincing case are; facts, specifics, the how, the why, and as many details as you can give.

When a prospect is reading (or watching) your ad, he or she wants the facts. They’ll be sold by the emotional appeals, but they won’t actually buy without the logical, rational facts to back up their emotional decision.

Tell them…

About the special developed processes you use to ensure reliability.
About the rigid testing and research that went into your product.
About the proven useful life of your product.
About the documented low maintenance costs.
About the attention to detail put into your design and engineering.

And, about any other provable facts which make your product, service, or offer a deal of a lifetime.

Give them lots of details.

Suppose you wanted to get married and for some reason, you had to base your decision on a single letter from the prospective spouse.

Wouldn’t you want to know everything you could about them before heading down the isle?

Would you want to know all about their likes, beliefs, interests, height, health, mental stability, parents, debt, hurts, habits, hang-ups and so on and so forth?

You bet your sweet alimony you would.

The same is true when a prospect reads, sees, or listens to your ad.

The more details you provide, the more believable you are. People generally assume that the more detailed an explanation is, the more credible it is.

But, even when you do all this, there can still be a little doubt in the prospects’ minds. After all, it’s still you doing the talking.

You know what they say…

If I say something great about me you probably won’t believe me, but if some,one else says something great about me, you might believe them.

Here’s a great way to capitalize on this…

Make it a practice to send press releases to your local media whenever you can find a newsy twist to your business. When a newspaper or magazine runs a press release, save it.

If the item that ran in the paper contains some favorable statements, you can turn around and use them as testimonials. Simply quote the publication in your ads. This adds almost as much credibility as if the publication actually endorsed your company.

Another version of this would be to simply advertise once in a top, prestigious publication like The Wall Street Journal, and then include the words “as seen in The Wall Street Journal” in your ads.

It’s the same thing with TV. Ever notice how many times you see a product advertised in print with the tag line, “As seen on TV”?

Using the nonfatal flaw to build credibility…

When you’re writing about your product or service, it’s only natural (and sensible) to try to present it in its best possible light.

But, think about this. What do you think happens to your credibility when you point out to the prospect some minor flaw in your product?

That’s right. The whole story tends to be more believable when you show them the warts and all.

This is especially powerful when you use it as part of the “reason why.” A perfect example of this would be an appliance dealer having a semiannual scratch and dent sale.

Sometimes, you’ll even profit by inventing a flaw to talk about.

I once heard of a store owner whose scratch and dent sale was so profitable that he actually opened up new, undamaged appliances and put a little scratch on the back just to include them in the sale.

The nonfatal flaw technique, when coupled with a great sale price helps to create the image of a terrific bargain. Another great technique that builds credibility is the “maybe – maybe not.”

Use it as part of the answer to a question, and explain it in the copy that follows. When you use it, you’re simply acknowledging that your product or service might not be right for everybody.

For example, after building a strong case for your product or service, ask the question (in your copy)…

Will (product) work for you?

Maybe, maybe not.

There are some people who even we can’t help. For example, (and then give some examples of cases where your product won’t work).

But, on the other hand, if you (and give more common examples of cases where your product is perfect) then this is just what you need.

Either way, there’s an easy, sure way to find out. Simply take advantage of our better than risk free offer and see for yourself. (And then lead into your guarantee).

That reminds me of another great credibility builder. Make the prospect qualify to take advantage of your offer. Sometimes it pays to attach some strings to your offer. It makes it more believable, and special.

You may want to limit it to regular customers only, or require customers to buy something else to be able to get this item. Making them qualify to take advantage of an offer does add credibility, but be careful how you use it.

It can also reduce the response to the ad.

Of course, this may not be all bad, either. If it’s a lead generating ad, or a special promotion to get new customers, you may want to eliminate the riffraff any,way. It’s your call.

Now, here s a little quiz. Just fill in the blanks to tell your customers the reasons why…

1. The biggest reason people don’t buy from you is that they don’t B________ you.

2. You’ve got to build C____________________ into your advertising (and sales pitches).

3. One of the best ways to build credibility is to always T_______ the T________

4. Honesty is a critical part of building credibility, but you’ve also got to be S_______________. If you aren’t, they won’t believe you anyway.

5. One of the best ways to gain credibility is through the use of P____R__________.

6. When you admit to a N__ F flaw in your product or service it helps build credibility because you’re admitting that it’s not perfect.

7. Q______________ for an offer, it builds credibility because not everyone can get in on it.

Here are the answers. How did you do?

1. believe
2. credibility
3. tell, truth
4. sincere
5. press releases
6. non-fatal flaw
7. Qualify

Till next time…

Until next time. Write well, live well, and if you mess up on both accounts, get back up and take another shot at it.


Tony Policci
Absolutely Brilliant Concepts, Inc.
Marketing Consulting and Killer Copywriting Simple Strategies Dynamite Results

PS If you want a complete, step-by-step guide to turn your business into a cash cow, check out the Piranha Marketing Course that I helped create. You save $100 off the everyday price PLUS get over $2,000 in FREE BONUSES if you grab it here:
Whether your goal is to dominate your market, or simply to distribute a compelling message to your target audience… I combine proven marketing strategies with irresistible ad copy, to infect your prospects with the desire to buy.

But I don t work with just anyone…there has to be a fit . If I agree to take you on as a client, your needs become as important to me as my own…so they have to be in line with my own values.

After nearly 20 years in my field, I’ve learned this is the only way I want to do business. The results of our relationship will be measured in BIG results and BIG profits – – and while that s exciting, the real riches… the real value, is in the kinship you and I will develop. If that makes sense to you, I invite you to contact me today.”

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