We believe in the power of good copywriting. Time and again, we have seen a well-executed direct sales letter drive conversions and profits through the roof. But how much power do you, as the copywriter, wield when trying to promote a bad product or service? Can your writing help people view a substandard offer through new eyes? Or will the offer sabotage your efforts—no matter how brilliant they are? We asked entrepreneurs and writers to share their thoughts. Read on to learn more.
John Greving spent 7 years as a freelance writer and SEO before joining IWD Agency as their head of SEO and content.
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Good copy can absolutely sell bad offers.
It might be harder for the copywriter, but plenty of them have been successful at it over the years. The bigger impediment for a copywriter would be trying to sell an offer without understanding the market or the industry within which they're writing. That's difficult. But provided they understand those two factors, copywriters can definitely convince customers that a bad offer is actually the best one they've ever seen.
Once you earn the reader’s trust, you want to deliver on your promises
“The product is rubbish, I need my money back… LIARS!”
That is really painful to read, right?
Well, it happens a lot. Here is why good copy sells bad offers:
Copywriting is used [to make] the reader picture himself as better than [he would be] without the product or offer. Some copywriters will make it seem like the offer will solve the worst [problems]—very often, to an unrealistic level.
Yes, once you earn the reader’s trust, you want to deliver on your promises. If it is complete rubbish, the word will spread like wildfire, the trust will be lost, and the offer will fail, even resulting in nasty legal issues.
So yes, the answer is good copy can sell bad offers, at least until your deceived customers start noticing and build their strategy to shut your business down.
You need to be able to offer something beneficial to the customer.
You should present your offer as something they actually want while highlighting how they will set themselves up for gain. Regardless of whether the writing is actually good, a bad offer will never get the customer in the door.
Yes, good copy can sell bad offers. But is that good for business?
There are consequences to weak offers, like high return rates and low repeat sales. It’s not only bad for business and your reputation, but you’re leaving money on the table.
The focus should be on improving your offer to make it the best you can. The copy will be stronger. You’ll yield higher conversions and retain more customers.
With an attractive offer, you get to keep the money you make and have happy customers returning to buy more.
So yes, good copy can sell pretty much any offer. But the best way to make use of strong copy is to start with an irresistible offer.
They can only sell a bad offer a limited number of times
Good copywriters can sell bad offers, but the catch is, they can only sell a bad offer a limited number of times. Once the customer gets it, they won't like it, so they will be likely return it and then never purchase it again. Also, there is a high chance they will tell their friends not to purchase from the store, and write a negative review, further making it so others won't purchase from the store. At the end of the day, even if a good copywriter is able to sell a bad offer, it has a short lifespan and the business will likely still fail over time.
Yes, of course, it does sell bad offers but not for the long term.
In order to create a brand reputation, there are many overlapping factors: the social effect, consumer heuristics, consumers' responses and reviews, the prior expectations, and the product quality. Altogether, [these factors] affect the brand reputation for the product or service. The business itself (sales) will go on according to the extent of the success of the marketing process, and the [copy] is king in this process.
Moreover, it has been proven that the formative index is more important than the qualitative scales when it comes to the sales process, especially when copywriting for the product creates emotions such as admiration for and confidence in the product. However, over the long run, the other factors we've mentioned above (such as the reviews, responses, etc.) will overshadow the positive impact of the good content on the bad product.
Only if the readers are vulnerable enough
To some extent, it can sell bad offers, but only if the readers are vulnerable enough to believe in a shady product. However, we've observed that in this pandemic, most buyers have become more discerning when it comes to making buying decisions so even the best copy cannot fool them into believing anymore.
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