For more than a decade, I've
had a listening post up on this topic, observing
wailing and head-scratching on both sides. On
the one hand, many marketers model and advise
weird, emotion-soaked headlines, fast-talking
superlatives, hard-to-believe claims and a tone
of carnival-barker excitement. Anything goes, as
long as it converts. Indeed, for this crowd,
response data rules, and they're genuinely
bewildered why anyone would take issue with what
On the other side are
organizations who refuse to post content with
that tone, experts who deploy hype but confess
their embarrassment with it and clients who
email me, "Please, can you write something I
won't be ashamed to use?"
To be clear, we're talking
about headlines like these (with text that
continues in that tone):
Four types of people tend
to recoil from that approach.
1. Ex-academics and highly
educated folks who subscribe to The New
Yorker and listen to public radio. These
sophisticates feel the hypey style of marketing is
low class and not worthy of them. In their minds,
using it would be like shaking hands with a reporter
from the National Enquirer. Also included here are
many Europeans brought up to admire restraint who
find this style overwrought and overly American.
2. Introverts. Self-reliant
men and women who hang back from showing off in
front of others and who don't strive to outdo the
Joneses dislike hot air and hoopla in behavior and
in prose. No matter how much you tell them it works,
they can't bring themselves to embrace hype.
3. Socially conscious and
heart-centered entrepreneurs. Touchy-feely types
who wear environmentalism, compassion, political
activism or spirituality on their sleeves shudder at
the aggressiveness of hype and prefer a softer,
gentler approach. Writing in a voice that fits their
values matters greatly to this group.
4. Organizations with a
sedate image to maintain.
Direct-response writers moan about these
kinds of clients, who may refuse even to
test copy that seems undignified or smarmy.
Organizations whose credibility lies in a
somewhat conservative persona may be right
to put their image first. According to James
Hale Sr., a marketing director at the Mayo
Clinic, his hospital experimented with
"sensational, shout-out copy" but found it
lowered response, because it clashed with
what the public expected from an A-list
Are any of the above categories of
people your target market? If so, you may find more
success in the lower-key approach the Mayo Clinic
kept to after its experimentation. If not, then you
may be better off studying the masters of hype and
adopting their techniques.
Don't be a mindless copycat. Don't
be intimidated by successful people who insist you
can find your audience and cash in only by following
their lead. Find the tone you can live with and that
makes the cash register ring because your customers
Copyright 2015 Marcia
Yudkin. All rights reserved.
about my mentorship program for copywriters /
Learn From the
Masters of No-Hype Copywriting
In 2013 and 2014, Marcia Yudkin
convened the most articulate and
experienced practitioners of no-hype
copywriting for an exchange of ideas
on writing copy that persuades
without excessive showmanship or
stretching the truth.
Presenters included Peter Bowerman,
Nick Usborne, Shel Horowitz, Karon
Thackston and others.
recordings from this telesummit.