Do customers really fall for the cheesy copywriting sales tricks???


I often wonder in an age of sophistication whether the over friendly approach used by businesses to customers actually works? I mean copywriting that addresses you by your first name when they don’t even know you – what! I suppose marketing experts would call this striking a rapport with the customer. But does it work? I used to get direct mail through the post and laugh at the approach taken. A good few years ago I once had the Manager of Readers Digest “personally”, (yes that term was used), write me a letter, and through his correspondence with me state that he now felt as though he personally knew me. He must have been the World’s greatest mind reader as I never once responded to any of his letters, or a stalker! What a talent the World of science has missed out on there.  Now that is an example of “extreme rapport” building. But wait a minute. Laugh as you may but is this dated strategy probably more relevant in a World where impersonal is the new form of communication?  ‘One size fits all’ websites, auto – responders, spam email, seemingly unlimited amounts of general information available at the touch of a key.

You see let’s be honest we all like to feel a bit special. I for one find that I get more enjoyment out of receiving the postal mail than I do an email, despite the absolute speed, instant connectivity and ease of email. Snail mail as it is often referred to seems like a relic of the past rather than a vision for the future. However I would beg to differ in some particular cases. Yes I am of the age where email and the internet featured in my late teens yet I still see a massive place for the use of direct snail mail. I once tested this theory whilst working on a project for the NHS, engaging with Primary Schools to get them to become involved in a public health program. Email response rate from teachers equaled around 20%, including follow up calls, however letters sent direct to the teachers inviting them to participate doubled that figure. What is interesting here is that both the letter and email shared the same content, but the envelope was hand written. It seems the snail mail letter has not lost it’s edge just yet.

It got me thinking. The internet is absolutely phenomenal in the way it has changed the way we all conduct business, our social lives and the incredible amounts of information we have access to and are willing to share! The benefits completely outweigh the negatives. But has the incredible amount of information we do have access to with the internet, changed our habits with the way we digest it all?  I would assume, if like me, that the average person has become more selective with what email they read, that’s if they even open it in the first place. The subject matter is key here. Receive an email with a sniff of ‘one size fits all’ or a ‘spam’ looking subject line and I don’t even bother opening it. Why would I want to open any email that addresses me by my email name and not my real name, or has hundreds of names in the address bar. How impersonal! Nor do I want to open an email that apparently claims to enhance my genitalia or make me lose 5 stone in two weeks! My point is we can get very selective over the impersonal, mass distributed email s*it we receive everyday that almost makes the ‘personal’ approach that bit more – you know a bit more special.

Another change, probably not just brought about by the internet and computers, is our preference to scan read information quickly. We pick key words out, we jump from one paragraph to the next, and quite frankly get bored easily. Content is often generic and assumes rather than engages. All this changes our habits when it comes to actually reading sales literature, whether it email, letter or brochure. Another plus of snail mail is that feel of holding a letter rather than reading a screen that has become so familiar in our lives. I suppose it is like where a bit of the old Skool becomes the new cool. A book for example, is far more engaging than a kindle, but imagine taking the content to match a Kindle in books on holiday – you would need to charter your own cargo plane.

So next time a Mr. Smith from readers digest writes a letter to me with an unbelievable offer suited to my lifestyle and hobbies, (remember he does know me personally), I might just take a little more time to read it and appreciate the craft. We all think we can see right through the sales cheese but remember if what is being sold to you excites you, gives you a visual of how it will enhance your life you will probably buy it. I am no different I go through the same process. I first of all refuse to buy it as it is simply too expensive – lets call this the practicality stage. I then, through advertising, start to apply the benefits to my particular life (contemplating stage) and then start offsetting the initial cost against the benefits (justification stage). The next stage is purchasing.

Now I know how I work when it comes to purchasing products or services I can also see the ‘internal filters’ I have when it comes to researching a product before I purchase. Time is precious and the amount of information on the internet can almost act to confuse a customer when it’s intention is to inform the customer. Simplicity is the key here, concise text that outlines the benefits, relays information in an easy to read format and addresses the reader in a conversational tone. Now email could do with learning a few tricks from snail mail approach and times gone by. I hope next time you see a cheesy sales line, or advert you appreciate that it wouldn’t be a multi – billion pound industry if it didn’t work. So out with the electronic and in with the cheese may not seem as daft as it first may sound.

Andrew Picken   – Twitter:   @handywriter4u


About handywriter4u

I enjoy offering a different perspective on wide ranging topics including sport, particular boxing, health and fitness, economy, political news, lifestyle, employment and using persuasive writing as an art form in the world of Marketing and Sales. I also enjoy picking a random topic or news story of the day and putting a completely different angle on it. Maybe I can call this just rambling on about something utterly random, always an opinion, right or wrong, but like the old BT advert – “it’s good to talk”. Andy

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