My friend and brilliant copywriter, Chris Maddock, frequently exhorts his writing students to “Just say the thing.”Â This advice is based upon Chris’s extensive experience in what’s working right now for radio ads – and just as importantly,Â what’s no longer working for any type of copywriting.
Google and the Internet have trained us to ruthlessly sort for relevance, and we now demand messaging formatted for, and adapted to, rapid sorting.Â If visitors can’t get on your website, perform a 7-second scan and immediately see exactly:
those visitors will leave.Â Â Basically, you’ve gotta “just say the thing”Â (after which of course you still need to go on to close the loopholes, substantiate your claims, provide rich content, etc).Â And these web preferences have spilled out onto our demands for traditional media as well.
…But often times, the finished product won’t necessarily “feel” creative.Â Non-copywriters will tell you it’s too plain.Â No one will be impressed.Â Even visitors might not be impressed- yet they’ll convert!
Here’s a perfect example of that:
So first a caveat: this Kodak landing page isn’t perfect.Â As an incentive for already established Kodak Gallery members, it’s a strong offer.Â But Kodak has left themselves an out/loophole by reserving the right to end the free shipping beta program.Â And this kills its ability to draw new members.
Frankly, I don’t want to upload all my photos to their gallery based on the promise of free shipping, only to then have the free shipping yanked away from me.Â How much better would it be if they had a free shipping Opt-In program for new and existing members, a program you automatically join with any $12 or higher purchase from their gallery, and a guarantee from Kodak to continue to honor free shipping privileges for all existing members of the program even if they end the program.
Nevertheless, the thing to concentrate on here is how simply they just laid out the deal right in the headline.Â The copy just says “the thing” and it’s straight-up about their intentions.Â Also, notice how stunningly clear the comparison chart is.Â Not fancy, just brilliantly clear in conveying shipping savings available through Kodak Gallery.
And even though no one will remark on what brilliant writing Kodak’s copywriter cranked out, or on how freaking cool the graphic designers chart is, both the copy and the chart are remarkably effective.
The trick is to not let the “plain” style fool you.Â Just test it against copy with more snap, crackle and pop.Â Test it against a prettier graphic, or against whatever “feels” right to you.Â Over time, when clarity consistently wins out in your A/B tests, what “feels” right to you will change – and you’ll start writing much more effective copy.
[Editors Note:Â The author of this article is now blogging at jeffsextonwrites.com]