Copywriting with a hammer

My Dad has a saying: “Take a hammer to it.” He means it humorously. Mostly, it refers to men who think they can fix anything by pounding on it – and usually break what they’re working on in the process. He makes the comment with an eye-roll. It’s always directed at a particular person. Have you seen copywriting that feels like someone’s wielding a hammer?

Manipulate selling is making a comeback. Big in the 80s, companies would train entire sales forces with scripted techniques designed to bully customers into a sale. This involved a series of questions meant to get the customer saying yes; pulling a manager into the sales conversation so the client felt like they were getting special treatment; and a one-time-offer only available with a signed contract NOW. Sound familiar? Have you seen the advice for sales copy floating around the web lately?

Manipulative selling on the internet

You’ve likely heard the mantras. “Always include a call to action in your messages.” “Upsell every buyer.” “All your offers should be time-sensitive.” “Immediately ask for referrals.” “Build your list with a free opt-in giveaway.”

Do these sales techniques feel manipulative to you? They do to me. It reminds me of the cringe-worthy tactics of those in plaid suits with now-or-never deals. My Dad’s “Take a hammer to it” home repair experts have apparently set up shop on the internet as self-proclaimed marketing gurus. 

Good copywriting is about building trust and rapport while demonstrating you understand your prospects’ issues. There’s not just one tool in your writing arsenal. Smart business owners realize there are many different techniques to draw from that are softer, more subtle, and more effective than a hammer when it comes to effectively fixing a poor sales problem.    

Hammers are handy tools, but they’re not suited for most challenges. If you’ve realized smashing at whatever’s not working is a bad idea, you’re probably open to options. You’ve seen the mess taking a hammer to a screw makes. Sure, screws look like nails, but they work differently.

Writing is a tool too. Think of it more like a Swiss Army knife rather than a single purpose device. It’s most effective when you consider the variety of options available so you can find the best solution for the job at hand. There’s joy and fun that comes from words that make everyone feel good about a buying decision. If you, your employees and your customers are smiling about how you’re promoting yourself, you’re doing it right.   

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