Too Much Build-Up: Over-Zealous Ad Copy Can Break The Sale

How many times has this happened to you?

A friend recommends a film that just came out: "You've GOT to see this movie! It's SO (funny, scary, suspenseful, etc.)." They start quoting lines, excitedly taking you through the plot. You're hanging on their every word. Seems like cinema doesn't get any better than this! So you run out and plunk down $10 to see the movie. And what do you discover? That this is "just another movie"... mildly entertaining, at best. Next time this friend starts crowing about another fantastic film, you're not so willing to listen. In fact: you'll never go to another movie on their recommendation again.

What happened? Too much build-up. Someone "over-sold," and lost credibility because of it. The same is true for advertising. Too much build-up can break the sale. It's what happens when your ads are "anticlimactic."

What do I mean by advertising that's anticlimactic?

Let's say you came across an ad for a mysterious "something" that can give you the same ecstatic feeling as being in love. The advertiser doesn't mention what it is... he's too busy painting a picture of how this thing can change your life. The ad goes something like this:

"Ahh, that blissful, lighter-than-air feeling of being in love! When you feel like this, you're at your best... like you can do anything. When you're in love, you're on top of the world! Now imagine if you could summon this feeling to life at any time you wanted. Just think of what it could do for your career, for your personal relationships, for your quality of living!"

How would you feel if, after reading paragraph after paragraph about this elusive euphoria that can be yours for just a few dollars, you came to learn that the ad is about CHOCOLATE. You'd be a little annoyed, wouldn't you? You might even feel like someone had played a dirty trick on you. How likely is it that you'd buy that chocolate (even if it happened to be Godiva-quality), knowing you were duped in such a way? Not very! In fact, you'd more likely buy chocolate from the guy who told you outright, with minimal fanfare, that he was selling delicious, gourmet chocolate. Because he was being honest. And you, the consumer, appreciate honesty. Don't you?

Right now, hard-hitting ad copy is all the rage. Unless you live under a rock, you've probably seen those long sales letters that promise the moon and the stars, if you just BUY NOW. Looks like those internet gurus have become pretty darned successful, right? And you want what they have: persuasive skills that guarantee results for your business. You want it so badly you can taste it. That's why when they dangle their secrets under your nose, you listen with rapt attention. And you think, well, if they've become millionaires with their hard-sell strategies, maybe I should follow suit. But should you? Or will it just come across as a big build-up followed by a letdown? How will you avoid the trap of creating ads that are anticlimactic?

I write ad copy for a living. Lately, my clients have been coming to me in a frenzy looking for "that thing" that the Yanik Silvers of the world have. The first thing I ask them is, what are you selling? Is it something with many long-term benefits? Has your product made a difference for many people? If so, then yes, I believe you can build a case for what you're selling with persuasive copy. But if it's something like chocolate, or phone cards, or electronics, that will provide a bit of enjoyment in the here and now... then my advice to you is avoid the high-pressure sales pitch. It's just going to create build-up that you can't live up to. And if your product presentation is anticlimactic, your sales will suffer for it.

How are the web marketing gurus able to create such aggressive ads, without being anticlimactic?

Internet experts have something that everybody wants and only some people know how to get: success. The truth is, success doesn't come in a box or in an e-book or in a four-day seminar. None of these things guarantee that success will ever be yours. But they MIGHT help, and that's where the promise of success is ever-gleaming. That's how the experts can keep you trying like hell to attain it - repeatedly forking over your hard-earned cash for their mysterious know-how - all the while thinking that "maybe this one will seal the deal and make it happen for me!" Their ads will never be anticlimactic because they have mastered the art of keeping their customers salivating for more. Can you do this with your product offering?

Is what you sell highly sought-after, and in the category of success? Is it a stepping-stone to something of great magnitude? Or is it merely something that can enhance quality of life in little ways? The truth is, it takes more than ad copy to sell a product. Sometimes... surprise... the product has to sell itself.

Despite what some would have you believe, no blown-out sales pitch is going to guarantee that you'll become a millionaire. Just like the embellished movie review, an aggressive advertising campaign will attract attention, and it may even make you some money. But only until people realize that your product doesn't live up to all the hype. At that point, they'll lose interest. And then you'll lose customers. What will happen the next time you're ready to launch a new product? Surprise... no one wants to "watch your movie."

What would you rather be: a one-hit wonder, or someone who draws a loyal following that's ever-growing? For those that want the latter, here's my advice: be realistic. Keep your advertising honest and informative. Present your product or service in a way that highlights its advantages without telling tall tales. Establish trust and credibility with your customers, and they'll keep coming back. And above all, don't base your advertising campaign on "what works for other people." Base it on what works for you.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.

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