It’s a fine line on a website: writing copy that sells without coming across as too pushy.
You want your customers to buy from you.
Equally, you don’t want them to simply read your web pages and not buy from you.
Zig Ziglar famously said “Timid salesmen have skinny kids.”
So, what can you do to walk this tightrope and still get sales?
The best way is to choose your words carefully.
And, actually, I put some interesting words and phrases in those first few sentences that – at first sight – are the exact opposite of what you’re looking for.
Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) has analysed how we deal with words and, near enough all the time, our minds completely ignore negative words.
So if I ask you not to think of a pink elephant wearing striped boots and tap dancing, the first thing your mind has to do is bring that scary image up before it deletes it.
Because it takes a while for the thinking part of your mind to notice the word “not” and by the time it does, your subconscious mind is already working out how Dumbo could tap dance.
Let’s examine those first few sentences in a bit more detail:
“It’s a fine line on a website: writing copy that sells without coming across as too pushy.”
The last part is giving the wrong impression: it’s telling you that you should be coming across as too pushy. Because the word “without” is crossed out by your mind.
So we should really turn it round.
Maybe by completely deleting the last part of the sentence and re-writing it as something positive.
Or maybe by adding a few extra words – that could be a lot easier in this instance, so let’s give that a go:
“without doing what some other websites practice and coming across as too pushy.”
That’s a bit better – it’s throwing the blame elsewhere, much like a child does.
The implication is that other websites are too pushy but – naturally – yours isn’t.
Isn’t knocking copy great?!
Well, actually, not necessarily.
For a start, it mentions your competition.
Either directly like an advert that played in the USA when I visited quite a few years ago that encouraged you to say “A Whopper beats a Big Mac” in order to get two Whoppers for the price of one.
Or indirectly like I’ve done, where you’re left to draw your own conclusions about who the other websites are.
Another option would be to turn the sentence on its head and get rid of any negatives.
In the case of this particular sentence, that’s an option but not a very easy one. It would turn the whole sentence structure around and at the moment I’m going to chicken out and leave it “as is”.
Maybe another time!
The second sentence is nice:
“You want your customers to buy from you.”
It’s true – customers who buy from you are normally more profitable than those who don’t.
And it’s got an embedded command as well.
In fact, the whole sentence with the possible exception of the first word is a great example of an embedded command.
It’s actually telling you to want your customers to buy from you.
I like that kind of sentence structure. A lot.
Short, to the point, tells you what to do without being too over the top.
Because at face value it’s just stating a fact.
Unless you don’t love making a profit, you’re going to nod “yes” and agree with that statement.
The fun starts with the third sentence:
“Equally, you don’t want them to simply read your web pages and not buy from you.”
Remember, we’re crossing out negative words because our minds don’t put much – if any – weight behind them.
So let’s cross out the negatives and take a look at what that sentence is really saying:
don’t want them to simply read your web pages and not buy from you.”
I hope you like what that was really telling you!
And I hope, like me, that you’ll enjoy playing with those kind of sentence constructions and turning your web pages from things that silently repel your customers to ones that draw them in to the sales process almost without them realising it until they’ve clicked the “buy” button and purchased whatever it is you’re selling them.
One of the earliest books I read on this was Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale. It’s got mixed reviews on Amazon but I think it’s nicely written on a subject that’s not always easy to explain.
Because of the studying I’ve done in NLP, it’s become close to something I do naturally and I’m certainly a lot more careful about how I word things than I used to be.
I cover some basics in my Easy Copywriting offer and may well explore this further over the coming weeks as there’s a lot more to this than initially meets the eye.
Feel free to add your comments below!