Madron's Marketing Secrets

Three Common Myths About Effective Sales Copy

In my more than 23 years of writing and evaluating sales copy, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most successful marketers.

One of the things I learned quickly is that when it comes to great copy, there are no shortcuts. 

There are no computer algorithms that can spit out “perfect” copy…there are no magic lists of great headlines…and there aren’t any “secret words” that cause your customers to empty their wallets and hand over all their cash.

It’s funny, though…because most younger copywriters seem to think there is a magic formula — a shortcut that will allow them to crank out a winning promotion in 20 minutes and then head straight for the beach…because, after all, isn’t that how all copywriters work?

If only it were that easy.

Truth be told, many of those same marketers and copywriters — with less than, say, five years of experience — are easily susceptible to some of the more common myths about effective sales copy.

Here are three of the more common myths you should steer absolutely clear of when it comes to great sales copy:

Myth #1 — There’s Only One Way to Do It — I admit it…I’m an obsessive baseball fan. I’ve been that way as far back as I can remember.  And one of the things that frustrates me about my favorite sport is its reluctance to embrace change because of its fondness for tradition.

While other sports have welcomed new innovations — and improved their games — baseball at times appears to enjoy being stuck in the past.  Sometimes that’s good — but sometimes it’s a bad idea.

”Because we’ve always done it that way” is one of the more dangerous phrases you can hear in business — or in life.  And, sadly, baseball seems to use that phrase on a regular basis.

There are plenty of great reasons for following a specific blueprint when it comes to executing a great marketing campaign.  But handing a copywriter an example of past success and saying, “This is the only way to do this,” is not only a recipe for failure…it’s just plain lazy.

Steering clear of the “only one way to do it” myth is good advice not just when it comes to creating new campaigns…it’s also great advice when it comes to the entire creative process.

Copywriters, designers, marketers…we’re all unique — and those of us who’ve been at this for a while have discovered that there are many ways to generate ideas or create winning copy. 

So the next time someone tells you “There’s only one way to do this,” I suggest you run — not walk — in the opposite direction.

Myth #2 — Longer Copy is Better…or Shorter Copy is Better

You’ve likely been exposed to the great “Long Copy vs. Short Copy” debate, as it has seemingly been around forever.

During my career I’ve met successful marketers who passionately believe that shorter copy is the only way to go.  And I’ve also met successful marketers who passionately believe that anyone who favors short copy over long copy is certifiably insane.

The simple truth is — longer copy works best in certain situations while shorter copy works best in others. 

Whenever I’ve been asked if longer copy is better than shorter copy, I always answer the same way: The perfect length for any promotion is precisely the number of words necessary to make the sale. 

At the end of the day, it’s really that simple.

Myth #3 — Great Copy Sounds More Impressive

Which of the following sentences is more effective:

Sentence #1 – For optimized sales copy, persuasive writers enlist the utilization of as many polysyllabic words as can reasonably be expected by the discriminating consumer, or…

Sentence #2 – Short words are fine.

I exaggerated the above examples to illustrate my point, but you get the idea: You have a limited amount of time to grab your reader’s attention. 

So would you rather spend that time trying to impress him with the strength of your vocabulary…

Or would you rather use fast-paced, benefit-oriented copy to explain — in simple terms — what the benefit of your product or service is to the reader?

One of my pet peeves is reading copy written in the hopes of grabbing the attention of other copywriters.  In fact, I feel strongly that you should never employ any copywriter who writes to impress other writers. 

Your goal is to grab the prospect’s attention — and then close the sale.  Great copy doesn’t have to stand out at advertising awards banquets…but it does need to generate results.