It doesn’t take a Pulitzer to recognize well-written marketing copy. It’s all about persuasion: you use words to spark interest, sell your stuff, and get people to see things your way. No matter how well you can twist words around your head, you won’t get very far without proper persuasive techniques.
The good news is that it’s not that hard. Your audience may be as fickle as a two-year-old, but Web marketing experts have a few tried-and-tested tricks up their sleeve. Here are five of them.
The “why” factor
People always have a choice, whether they’re buying milk, computers, or a house. And if we’re logical about it, that means you always have competition. On the Internet, that’s practically a given. Give people a reason to single out your product. Why are you better than the next guy? It doesn’t have to make sense—it just has to be convincing.
Agitate and solve
This is the trick behind the iPod’s enormous success. Apple managed to convince millions that they had to have 20,000 songs on them at all times—although we’ve been getting by just fine with our 12-track Walkmans. By creating an imaginary need, amplifying it, and then offering a solution, you can practically create a client base overnight.
The inclusion principle
Few would admit it, but people like having labels stuck on them. Rock star, hippie, preppy, virginal, nerd—we just love putting ourselves into boxes. Many successful products have preyed on this need by validating these personal labels. Call your product the “green buyer’s choice” or the “ultimate geek shirt.” Convince people that your product makes them part of a group, and they’ll jump right in.
Ever notice how banks sneak houses or house keys into their pages? That’s the foreshadowing approach: luring people in by giving them a picture of the outcome. But this technique is closely tied with credibility, and that’s what makes it a bit tricky. If people don’t get what they see in the picture, you lose their trust and the trust of others in their social circle. As much as possible, base your promises on actual data such as your professional experience or real user testimonials.
Repetition and consistency
Web marketing isn’t a one-off deal. Your message needs not only to reach people, but to reach them repeatedly. Repetition is the reason you can recognize a Wal-Mart or a Starbucks from two miles away: you’ve seen them around so much it’s become second nature. To avoid being monotonous, express the same message in different ways: use different pictures, a different story, or a different color, but with that single unifying factor.