You never forget the cringy moments…
Years ago, I was a salesperson for the bestselling reverse osmosis company in America.
If your office had dirty water, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone on my team would show up and try to convince you of a cooler, cleaner, more refreshing future.
And it was after spending years as an outside salesperson that I learned one of the most important lessons in copywriting during the course of one cringey meeting.
The value of clear communication.
Get to the point
If you’ve never worked in outside sales, running a sales appointment is kind of like speed dating. You have two people who never met that are trying to see if there is any chemistry or, in this case, a solution to their problem.
And this meeting was like a Tinder date gone wrong…both parties were eyeing the door. Mainly because this meeting had a third party – My coworker who made things complicated.
Usually in meetings, I like to break the ice and lower the tension with a well-timed one-liner or a very polite joke at the start just to get everyone laughing. After all, life is usually better when you’re laughing.
Unfortunately, my coworker skipped almost all of the pleasantries and went straight for the sale.
“We have a 12-step reverse osmosis filtration system that’s patented and…”
The prospect’s eyes glazed over. There was no benefit. It wasn’t exciting. It didn’t solve a problem. It was about me, me, me instead of you, you, you.
And this led to my discovery I use every day as a copywriter:
Get to the point.
The millions are in the message
The real secret of copywriting, sales, and communication is boiling down your message so it’s so simple and so benefit-focused it’s impossible to be confused.
In the case of selling reverse osmosis systems, from my experience, “We make your water cleaner.” is a hell of a lot more effective than “A patented 12-step reverse osmosis process designed to purify water.”
It’s easier to understand.
And understanding is the cornerstone of effective communication. After all, would you really want to buy something if you don’t know what it does for you?
But this lesson is often missed. Or at worst, dismissed for either cleverness or ego copy (Copy that’s more about the company than the customer.)
And you see it all the time.
Don’t make things complicated
Have you ever visited a website that sounded more like a try-hard LinkedIn profile than a service?
“We are dynamic professionals committed to advancing connectivity.”
So you wonder, “What the hell does this mean?” Right before you bounce off their page.
Yeah, don’t do that.
Your marketing copy should be written for prospects instead of fellow marketers. It’s not about making yourself sound cool; it’s about promoting clarity so your prospects can understand what you do.
After all, your prospects are the ones who will become customers, not your coworker Danny, with the short tie.
In practicality, this means you really need to simplify your marketing message, so someone who doesn’t know what you do can easily understand in as few words as possible.
Instead of saying,
“We walk further with recycled footwear.”
You can say,
“Shoes that are good for you and the planet.”
Instead of saying,
“We test, diagnose, optimize and advance online business solutions.”
You can say.
“We fix your IT problems.”
And so on and so forth.
The reason why is we want to cater to human nature.
Understanding Human Nature
The real secret to becoming a better communicator is understanding human nature.
After all, it’s the laws everyone reading this abides by.
And if you understand human nature, you’d realize that:
Humans are busy.
And they don’t like doing extra work. (Which includes thinking.)
And it’s not just a hunch. It’s backed by science.
Consider the Cognitive miser theory:
This theory suggests that humans are reluctant to expend cognitive effort, opting for simpler and less effortful ways of processing information. This can result in mental shortcuts and a preference for easy tasks over more complex ones that require additional effort.
But if you’re self-aware, you probably already instinctively knew that.
Just look at your own life.
How many times have you bought something just because it was easier to understand?
How many times have you chosen the easier option instead of the one that took more work?
It happens all the time.
And it’s because you and everyone in the world has a life that’s begging for their attention. You don’t have time to do extra work.
So don’t make your prospects do extra work with confusing words.
Because, more likely than not, they won’t.
In the case of the water cooler – I learned to simplify our messages so our prospect could understand what we did in one sentence, then I backed it up with the more boring technical talk.
And the results?
I was salesman of the month multiple times, made a decent income, and was a major contributor to the best-selling sales team (for my product) in the country.
All from using simple, clear words.
That’s the power of clear communication.
If you want to improve your copy, focus on clear communication. Get clarity of what service you actually offer, and make it impossible to confuse.
Know your audience like the back of your hand. The better you understand who you’re talking to, the easier it’ll be to craft a message that connects with them.
Make your message so easy to digest that your audience doesn’t have to lift a mental finger. Remember, most people are lazy – don’t give them an excuse to bounce off your website or toss your brochure in the trash.
And most importantly, never forget this truth:
If people don’t understand what you do, then how in the Hell do you expect them to buy from you?
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