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By Trevor Campbell on 15/02/17 | Copywriting


Hyperbole wrecks the good work you do. And while it’s rare for a reputable company to brag outrageously, everything you say can potentially make a reader doubt you. But there are ways to ensure you keep building a solid case – and help people avoid niggling hurdles.

One of the main roles of marketing (and copywriters in particular) is to help a reader overcome their natural objections. This can be tricky to do as the default option of most people is inertia. Readers don’t want to buy, read, explore, invest, sell, donate – not a sausage – unless you give them a good enough reason to do something.

So if you make an assertion – even the teeniest claim – you must be able to back it up.

Here are some examples of what you say that may cause a reader to think twice about considering you.

We guarantee it – if you pepper your literature with talk of guaranteed service or guaranteed satisfaction you must explicitly reveal what the guarantee is. And then stick to it without question. Same thing with awards: show what you have won (with links) if you say your service is award winning.

We care – smaller companies (and firms which make this a lynchpin of their business) can offered a tailored service, but bigger firms should tread lightly. It’s not believable for a high-street bank or phone provider to say everyone matters. Nor should it be. Promote something else like convenience, freedom or price.

Offering exemplary customer service – another claim that should be backed up with proof (testimonials work well) and rigorous adherence to that ethos. If you say you’re here to help, you must show this.

Sign up quickly – barring a simple email capture, many registrations are tedious and time consuming. Don’t make out that signing up for something is easier than it really is. (But saying it takes 3 mins, for example, really works.)

Free monthly newsletter – you sign up for something and after the initial flurry of useful content, the nuggets dry up. Customers feel short-changed when this happens, and feel you don’t deliver on your promises.

We’ll get back to you straight away – the dreaded info@ (or web-form) on a website makes readers feel their note or query slips into a black hole. If you use these devices, monitor them – and get back to prospects as soon as possible.

Call times and opening hours – if you say you have someone at the end of the phone 24/7, an answerphone at 6.15am won’t cut it. Or someone who sounds like they just stumbled out of bed.

So we know that making exaggerated claims about what you do is an absolute no-no, but even fairly innocuous statements demand your interrogation.

If you can’t balance your statements (‘ could also lose money’), it’s best to understate and over-deliver. This thinking was behind one of the most successful headlines of all time, by the legendary copywriter (okay, in copywriting circles) Gary Bencivenga.

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