Marketing Psychology: Avoid These
Pitfalls in Your Copy
by Marcia Yudkin
Marketing psychology is
like a box of matches: Used wisely, it
creates appealing warmth and brightness for
a business, but it can also spark a reaction
that blows up in one's face.
We've all heard of
spectacular marketing backfire, like the
promotional firm that unintentionally shut
down Boston in 2007 by planting devices that
were taken for bombs. But good ideas can
also go wrong in your copy in smaller ways
with an inadequate understanding of the
principles of persuasion.
Avoid the risks of butting
up against the pitfalls of marketing
psychology by steering clear of temptations
to mislead or insert obstacles into the
selling process. Pitfalls I've observed in
* Forgetting the
skepticism of many consumers, who bail out
because you didn't reassure them
appropriately. If there are no hidden
catches or costs, say so. Avoid letting
customers worry about possible hassles,
flaws in a service or the need to fight to
get a refund.
Lucrative World of B-to-B Copywriting
Copywriting courses heavily promoted
online provide a skewed picture of the
realities and techniques of working
copywriters, overlooking the unglamorous
but pleasant and profitable
opportunities in business-to-business
copywriting. Listen to a recorded
teleclass in which I explained the 10
keys to success in b-to-b copywriting
and answered questions.
* Exaggerating or
misrepresenting things that buyers soon
experience for themselves. For instance, a
real estate ad for a house in my town claims
"15 minutes to Northampton" (the county
seat), when someone obeying speed limits
could barely make it in 20 minutes. Another
example is a franchise's ad claiming to be
the only franchise brand committed to
providing nutritious and delicious products.
A quick Google search shows that to be
* Saying things that are
hard to believe, even though they are true.
If doing some little thing differently led
to 4,000 percent better results, that
strains credulity, even if it actually did
happen. You're better off toning down the
claim to something that is easier to swallow
and also accurate, such as "more than 400
* Offending potential
buyers' basic commitments and values. For
instance, legendary adman John Caples asked
firefighters whether they preferred an
electric popcorn popper or a set of chef's
knives as a reward for reviewing a film on
fire safety. They responded angrily: "You
think we'd adopt a fire safety program
because of some #$&%! popcorn popper?"
* Connecting your brand
with irrelevant or highly controversial
causes. One business owner ended his
otherwise very useful book on small-business
marketing with a kooky write-up about an
issue related to health care. Yes, this was
very important to him, but it undermines his
credibility with 99 percent of readers.
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Six-week self-study course teaches
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Replace incomprehensible jargon with
reader-friendly, motivating content.
* Implying that your priorities matter
more than your customers'. For example,
this comes up when someone replies to
all emails with boilerplate saying they
reply to all emails after 2 p.m. every
day because they get more work done that
By following these
guidelines, you have a better chance of
turning marketing psychology to your
advantage, interesting potential buyers
in your offerings and leaving them
satisfied after their purchase.
Copyright 2016 Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.
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