Often, people ask me whether copy will guarantee results. I’m always absolutely, definitely, unreservedly sure of the answer: maybe. Why? Quite simply, because there are so many variables. Let’s say I’m writing a sales letter. Its success depends on lots of things:
  • Is it written in a language that appeals to the reader? Do we even know enough about the reader to decide what would appeal to them? (I hope so.)
  • Is the offer compelling?
  • Is it compelling enough to make the reader do something now?
  • Has the letter come at the right time? Is the reader in a receptive frame of mind?
  • Does it give enough information? Too much? Too little?
A sales letter, like any other copy, tells a story: the story of your business, your product or your service. It should cause an ‘aha!’ moment with the reader. But getting it right depends on lots of things. Not least, the unpredictability of humans. If I look at my behaviour as a consumer recently, I’m amused, confused and perplexed.
  • I considered changing gyms simply for a change. I’m not unhappy with my gym, and it’s much more convenient than the competition. So why change? Because.
  • I bought a double-chocolate muffin to go with with my skinny decaf latte, then felt guilty and left it.
  • I almost bought an expensive clam-shell mobile phone. Almost. All it took was a friend to tell me that his (clam shell, different make & model) had broken, and I changed my mind.
  • I signed up for a year’s access to an online writing database, then never used it.
The list goes on. People are illogical, inconsistent and changeable. And that applies to consumers and businesses. Here’s what marketers rarely admit: there’s always an element of chance. Maybe people will be in a good mood, maybe they’ll have some spare cash, maybe you’ll appeal to their sense of humour, maybe they’ve just been let down by somebody else. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Research shows that people aren’t always ready to buy when you’re ready to sell. So there are two windows of opportunity that often don’t align. The answer is simple: keep showing up. One sales letter isn’t enough. Back it up with a follow-up letter, advertising, an email campaign, a newsletter and anything else that keeps you on the radar. If you do, one thing is certain: it will work. Promise.