7 tricks marketers use to get people to buy their crap

Dear Mr./Mrs. Consumer,

I must admit, I’ve acted like a scumbag.

I’m writing to you because I simply can’t live with the guilt any longer. So after years of enticing (okay, tricking) you to respond to offers for my products, I feel like it’s finally time to come clean.

The purpose of this letter is to expose several marketing tactics (okay, tricks) companies like mine use with great regularity to get you to buy stuff you don’t need.

I apologize if you’ve ever fallen victim to one of the following marketing shenanigans, where I used:  

Less-than-honest claims regarding a “limited-time offer.” What we failed to tell you was that “limited time” really meant any time between now and the end of eternity.

The phrase “Call/respond within the next 10 days.” See above.

A “Free Guide/Report/White Paper.” I’ll admit it – this piece was nothing more than a carefully crafted advertisement that offered very generic info on a subject of interest to you…capped off by a soft sell of my product and why you should buy it. We had to resort to these sneaky tactics because you stopped responding to our TV, radio and newspaper advertising.

Celebrity endorsers. We paid an inordinate amount of money to have people you recognized – but had absolutely nothing in common with – tell you why you should buy our product. When in reality, we probably would’ve been better off featuring a ‘real’ customer like yourself. Which leads us to…

Customer testimonials. If we included one of these in a piece you responded to, there’s a pretty decent chance that guy/gal was paid to say nice things about us.

Frequently asked questions. We created insultingly-easy-to-answer FAQs because they were another way to make it look like we actually cared what you thought. In reality, it was just another format for shoving our product benefits down your throat. In hindsight, don’t you find it funny that we never included any hard-hitting questions, like “Why does your product cost so much?”

A signed letter or email from someone with a fancy (probably made up) title. The individual referenced in the piece did not write the message. It was created by a skilled copywriter (somebody like this guy) who makes a living off writing/speaking for other people.

Mr./Mrs. Consumer, I know these revelations won’t make up for all the times I tried to swindle you out of your hard-earned money. But I hope at some point in the future you’ll be able to forgive me for my shady marketing indiscretions.

As a symbol of my regret, I’d like to offer you a FREE, no-obligation, 30-day trial of our latest and greatest widget…


Big, Bad Marketing Scumbag

About the author:
Jeff Fisher is a recovering marketing scoundrel who is eager to prove to one lucky employer he is a truly rehabilitated, customer-focused copywriter. You can email Jeff at jefffisherwrites@gmail.com or follow the ex-scumbag on Twitter @jeffjfisher.

5 annoying habits of the world’s worst copywriter

Believe it or not, some copywriters – who make a decent living off stringing shiny, 7-syllable buzzwords together in sentences – aren’t practicing some of the most basic fundamentals of marketing.

While I don’t wish to totally rid the world of these professionals (heck, they help good, honest writers like yours truly look good), I do want to expose some of their most annoying habits.

Beware of this guy, the world’s worst copywriter, who…

  1. Writes without ever stopping to put himself in his customers’ shoes to ask “what’s in it for me?” A good copywriter always proofs the piece, asking him/herself, “What’s in it for my reader?” This goes back to the whole write to sell a benefit not a feature adage that’s been passed down from one generation of marketers to the next. Maybe it’s just me, but judging from a lot of stuff on the market today, it seems like this lost art has skipped a generation…
  2. Writes to impress his creative copywriting cronies, rather than write for the audience he’s supposed to be marketing to. Winning industry awards/acclaim from other like-minded folks in your profession is cool and all…but when it generates somewhere between zilch and diddly squat as far as sales, that award carries about as much weight as a sopping wet Olsen twin.
  3. Writes copy that fails to include a call to action. In the rare event your prospect does read every word of your copy, don’t ever leave her asking “Now what?” Tell her who to call, where to visit, when to do it by and what she’ll get out of it. And it never hurts to offer something for free (e.g. shipping, newsletter, gift).
  4. Writes about how great his company is before ever giving the customer one good reason to continue reading. Here’s an example of his arrogance: “ACME Inc., a family-owned, Midwestern-based company with roots stretching back to the Eisenhower administration, is pleased to introduce its latest and greatest widget that will revolutionize our industry by combining state-of-the-art technology with the personal touch of a dedicated, experienced craftsman that…” Instead, include a customer benefit (not your feature) in the headline, then repeat it in the body copy and again in your close.
  5. Writes headlines like they’re an afterthought. Your reader isn’t visiting that Web site…or reading that newspaper…or checking their (e)mail to see what he can buy from you today. So your headline (or subject line) has to jump off the page (or screen), shake him silly and change the behavior he was about to engage in before you – the big, bad marketer – came along.


About the author:

Jeff Fisher is an experienced copywriter who’s tired of seeing companies waste money on copywriting professionals who don’t deliver results. He’s currently seeking a new, full-time copywriting gig where he hopes to improve the fortunes of one lucky employer…one carefully crafted message at a time. To learn more, please contact Jeff or follow him on Twitter at @jeffjfisher.