There is a growing trend in Internet marketing to use long sales letters. These sales letters are appearing in email advertising campaigns and on websites. Personally, I actually like this trend. Offering a long and detailed explanation of a product is much more helpful than presenting a “teaser" and a demand for an email address in return for better information.
The Internet marketing experts have declared the traditional form of sales letter dead and are saying that long sales letters are what you need to succeed. Fine by me: as I say, I prefer long sales letters. The problem is that there are Internet marketers who can't write long advertising copy. In fact, there are plenty of Internet marketers who can't write a decent bit of advertising of any length. What are these unfortunate people able to do that will enable them to compete in a world where long text rules?
Well, I can think of three options straight off: (1) they can hire a professional to write the sales letter on their behalf, (2) they can shamelessly copy someone else's sales letter and just change a few details around or (3) they can buy expensive software to do the job for them.
If you are thinking of developing a long sales letter for your website or email campaign, each of these options has a drawback. The first option is definitely the best but the services of a decent copywriter are far from cheap. The second option could lead you into trouble if you plagiarise a document which is subject to copyright. From what I have read the expensive software is just a lazy man's way of performing option 2. There is a further big problem with the second and third options: if you can't write decent advertising copy, will you know what to change to “personalise" your sales letter sufficiently?
I have noticed a trend related to long Internet advertising copy that I don't like. I am seeing too many different websites that contain what is essentially the same sales letter with just names and other small details altered to give the impression of unique content. This variation of small details might fool the search engines but will it fool potential customers? If I have noticed this duplication in passing, potential customers who are carefully researching competing websites are bound to notice.
The point of this type of advertising copy is to present the story of the writer's own unique experience. People who read a “personal story" on a website will remember the story outline and maybe a name or place will stick in their memory. If they then come across an identical story told by someone completely different, they will start to suspect people are just making these stories up. It's bound to happen and that's bad luck for the guy who invented the original version because his protests will be drowned in a huge chorus of “I am Spartacus!" from all his competitors.
To show you what I mean, here is an example. The following is real advertising copy I noticed recently on two completely unrelated websites:
""I get up every day and shower and put on a dress and leave my family to go to work for a living. I come home after dark, I'm dead tired, and I just fall onto the couch and go to sleep in front of the TV. " I nodded. **** was getting worked up. “You, on the other hand, " she said as she pointed at me, “are home when I leave in the morning. You're home when I get back from work. You have a nice house, a nice car. . . and as far as I can tell you don't even have a job. So I want to know how you do it!""
""I get out of bed every day, attempt to wake the kids and get them ready for school. Have my shower. Get some clothes on and leave my family to go to work. I work a good 9 hour day, drive home and exhaustedly slump onto the couch. ”
“But You! I see you through this window (she points) every single morning. You’re right there on the couch when I get up. Right there when I go to work. And more often that not you’re right there when I get home. ”
I nodded uncomfortably, **** was getting worked up.
. You’ve got a luxury car. This house. You take regular vacations… “
You will undoubtedly have noticed some striking similarities in these two short extracts. These sales letters are promoting two different programs and are purportedly the true stories of two website owners. What would you think if you were a potential customer visiting these websites - would you believe one of them, both or neither? Wouldn't you become deeply suspicious of all concerned after reading half a dozen further versions of this unique true story on other websites?
The intellectuals tell us that there are only seven basic plots in story telling. So, you might well ask, isn't it going to be impossible to stand out as being different? Remember, West Side Story is based on the same plot as Romeo and Juliet, the plot of Jaws can be read in the Anglo Saxon story of Beowulf. Just these two examples show that the film makers put in a lot of effort to distinguish their productions from previous ones and it paid off. West Side Story was definitely more profitable than any local dramatic society version of Romeo and Juliet has ever been. Make sure your long sales letter is a block buster and not an amateur production.
Copyright 2006 Elaine Currie
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