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FutureNow Article
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007

The 7 Deadly Claims (Part 2) — “Easy to Use”

By Jeff Sexton
December 6th, 2007

Popular_Electronics_Cover_Jan_1975.jpgWhat’s the real cause of your online visitors’ anxiety?

Answer that and you’ll take the first step toward invigorating your Web copy instead and ignoring weak claims like “easy to use.” Because “easy to use” isn’t so much a claim as it is an assurance, you can’t strengthen it until you know which fear you’re facing.

Visitor fears generally fall into two categories:

1.) They doubt their abilities. For instance, a fear created by a product that allows them to do things they previously couldn’t.
2.) They doubt their motivation. For instance, an anxiety generated by a product designed to streamline or enhance an activity they already do might play into their fears of managing time or resources.

Imagine the difference between selling a franchise or work-at-home solution to a first-time entrepreneur and selling an exercise program to a desk-bound worker. Doesn’t ease-of-use take on two dramatically different connotations? Still, “easy to use” makes no distinctions, so it’s an impotent claim either way.

Once you’ve figured out the fear you’re truly dealing with, here’s how to transform that flaccid cliché into solid, persuasive assurances, starting with the fear of time:

Address the time/resources issue head on.

  • Quantify how long the set-up or familiarization process takes. Give an exact time until the person can do ____. “23 minutes to your very own blog” sounds a lot more substantiated than “Easy to use!”
  • Specify which steps are automated. Think of this as Ron Popeil’s famous “Set it and forget it!” assurance. Time I don’t have to pay attention is time gained. So, what does your software or gizmo do by itself? Tell me.
  • Help them visualize how your product or service will steady their lives. Make them experience being in control of their time and their tasks, insofar as it relates to your field. An analytics tool that presents actionable metrics and graphs will be far more effective in actual use than an “easy to use” tool that presents unfiltered data. Make me visualize the ability to take decisive action based on your widget’s feedback.
  • Show how it’s part of an easy routine. I love my knife sharpener because I can leave it on the counter and strop my knives every time I go to put them back in the block — it takes all of 30 seconds per knife. Occasionally I have to actually sharpen them, and that takes an extra minute, but my knives stay sharp and I don’t have to schedule a trip to take them down to the knife sharpener. There’s no big block of time I have to devote to it. Does your product fit this mold?

Tackle the skill/abilities issue indirectly.

  • Qualify for whom the product or service is easy to use. People will doubt their own abilities far more readily than an entire group’s. Make them identify as part of a group first, then say your product or service is easy to use for members of that group. “If you’re already a member of MySpace, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you have all the experience you need to use FamilyTree 2.0”
  • Show how their current skills translate into using your product or service. This is another variation of “If you can ‘X,’ you can ‘Y.’” For instance, “If you can create a Word document, you can create a blog post. Since our editing tool uses the same commands and icons, you’ll be blogging in no time.”
  • Provide an “or [blank]” guarantee. For instance, “We’re sending you a direct hotline in our welcome letter. If you haven’t created your first electronic scrap book within 18 minutes of starting, call us and we’ll walk you through the steps or refund your money on the spot.”
  • Show the thing being used in action. This way, customers can verify each step, the complexity of the steps, and the necessary background knowledge. There’s a reason infomercials are so effective at selling do-it-yourself products. In this case, seeing really is believing.

Just remember, “easy to use” won’t reassure visitors — and a visitor with doubts usually clicks away, fast. If you want her to buy, you’ll have to give her credible assurances that are tailored to her real anxieties.

Read more about the 7 Deadly Claims at your own risk…

  1. Superior Customer Service
  2. Easy to Use
  3. Most Experienced
  4. We’re #1
  5. 100% Risk-Free
  6. Cutting Edge
  7. Best Value

[Editor's note: Is your website easily misunderstood? Sharpen up your virtual sales pitch at our Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar on March 28th in San Francisco. Jeff and Holly will be your instructors for this first-ever West Coast edition of our popular one-day copywriting crash course. Class size is limited so that attendees can get real advice and actually learn something. You'll even get $100 off if you register by 2/29.]

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Comments (7)

  1. These tips are definitely usable. Thanks Jeff!

  2. [...] the Web poobahs at GrokDotCom note in yesterday’s post re web copy: Just remember, “easy to use” won’t reassure visitors — and a visitor with doubts usually [...]

  3. Another great article Jeff.

    Gaining an intimate knowledge of your prospect is the biggest key to writing online copy that sells.

    Ultimately what everyone wants is everything done for them…no work…no worries.

    But the next step down from a hands off solution is to demonstrate to your prospect exactly how “easy to use” your product really is.

    Infomercials do work for this as does online video.

    One of my clients proved that her SEO program worked by starting a site from scratch and building it to number 1 on Google in 3 weeks…all on video.

    People will believe what they can see with their own eyes.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  4. Andrew,

    I can’t agree with you more, especially on the subject of video demos; done well, they really can work wonders.

    -Jeff

  5. [...] are the second and third articles in this series: The 7 Deadly Claims: Part 2 — “Easy to Use” and The 7 Deadly Claims: #3 — “Most [...]

  6. [...] "Easy to Use" [...]

  7. [...] the darn thing – and then I’ll opt not to buy.  And simply claiming that the flash is “easy to use” isn’t going to [...]

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Jeff is a Persuasion Architect, Web copywriter, blogger, and instructor of FutureNow's Persuasive Online Copywriting workshop. Follow Jeff Sexton on twitter

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