Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

55 replies
Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

Yes, just about always.

And if you're a copywriter who thinks you don't... you're in denial.

Let's define the term:

Manipulate: Control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.

Here's proof of my contention...

When you write copy, you accent the positives (benefits) of the product AND you mitigate (if you mention them at all) the negatives of the product.

That fits the above definition.

Not trying to condemn anybody, but hey, let's get real.

Alex
#attempt #copywriters #manipulate #readers
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  • Profile picture of the author expmrb
    Its okay to manipulate but lying or giving them false or misleading information is bad.
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  • Profile picture of the author LilyCohen
    As part of the sales & marketing industry, copywriting is here to get people to buy products & services. And since there is competition in every industry, you can't just say "we're here" and bring in revenue. So since before the days of Dale Carnegie those selling products have presented their products as better than the competition (or at least had some redeeming quality). It is manipulative. And it is sales.

    Hence the phrase "buyer beware." That's reality.
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  • Profile picture of the author Eunice21
    I thinks that is the purpose sometimes of the copywriter to get the attention of the reader.
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    Well, I might just be splitting linguistic hairs here. But, I don't see it so much as "manipulation"...

    I see it more like "persuasion."

    Whereas I'm trying to show people a product or service, that will help them improve their lives. (for a price, of course). And I'm trying to show it to them in the best light possible.


    Perhaps the difference between manipulation, and persuasion, comes down to the intention behind the words?


    Or, perhaps the difference between manipulation and persuasion, just comes down to the "word" we choose to use?
    But a copywriter once told me that different words can often make a difference in perception


    all the best,
    SAR
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  • Profile picture of the author RazvanRogozC
    The same can be said about going on a date with that cute girl you've met last week.

    You're not going to provide an unbiased, objective perspective over who you are. You're going to seduce. This means putting your best foot forward and dramatizing things in your favor.

    Is this manipulation?

    It depends on what you understand through the word. Technically, even the flight attendant that smiles at me before asking me to recline my seat is manipulating me.

    Personally I don't see persuasion as the same thing as manipulation because if this is true, parents manipulate their children, children manipulate their parents, Uber drivers manipulate their clients and so on. It would make us all borderline sociopaths.

    But we're getting into analytical philosophy here and at face value, manipulation and persuasion do mean the same thing. Yet, when we use them, we all refer to two very different approaches and type of intentions. I guess manipulation can be the win - lose or simply win when persuasion is the win - win.
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    • Profile picture of the author writeasrain
      My goodness! as a wordsmith, which all good copywriters are,
      manipulating and persuading can be pretty much the same thing. One can be the mirror of the other, easily.
      I conduct surveys in Home Depots and when I approach anyone, I am doing my best to talk them or manipulate them into answering my survey. The person I am trying to survey may also not want to do a survey and they may provide initial answers that would seek to dissuade or persuade or manipulate me in a way that may discourage me in completing
      the survey.
      And, I do, indeed, see it as either that they are trying to persuade, dissuade or manipulate me into going away.
      To me, it's all a matter of semantics - but the meanings
      of all of these words pretty much mean the same thing
      to me.
      I'm not a linguist or semanticist but I would be willing to
      gamble that persuade or manipulate are synonyms.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

    If the copywriter is any good, they do more than attempt to manipulate.
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  • Profile picture of the author helisell
    It's NOT manipulation.

    It is definitely NOT persuasion.

    Those things don't work with human beings.

    You could never persuade someone to become a life partner for example, that would not end happily.
    Nor could you manipulate someone into doing something (well not more than once).

    It's all about attraction so the correct and most successful term is ????

    SEDUCTION.

    Just spend 5 minutes thinking about that....and think about the copy writing that works really well and
    you'll understand.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by helisell View Post

      It's NOT manipulation.

      It is definitely NOT persuasion.

      Those things don't work with human beings.

      You could never persuade someone to become a life partner for example, that would not end happily.
      Nor could you manipulate someone into doing something (well not more than once).

      It's all about attraction so the correct and most successful term is ????

      SEDUCTION.

      Just spend 5 minutes thinking about that....and think about the copy writing that works really well and
      you'll understand.
      If you read any of the books on Seduction or picking up women, you'll find that everything is just marketing and selling. The principles are always the same.
      The Mystery Method is a good example of that. If you didn't know it was about picking up women, you'd swear it was about marketing.
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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Originally Posted by helisell View Post

      It is definitely NOT persuasion.

      Those things don't work with human beings.

      Just spend 5 minutes thinking about that....and think about the copy writing that works really well and
      you'll understand.
      Interesting...

      I was recently reviewing some of my Gary Bencivenga materials, where he explains his "Bencivenga Persuasion Equation"

      I guess maybe he's not that good of a copywriter, in your mind?
      .
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      • Profile picture of the author helisell
        Originally Posted by SARubin View Post

        Interesting...

        I was recently reviewing some of my Gary Bencivenga materials, where he explains his "Bencivenga Persuasion Equation"

        I guess maybe he's not that good of a copywriter, in your mind?
        .
        Well your irony/sarcasm was not lost on me.

        Maybe he just doesn't understand the semantics.

        The best way to attract anyone to anything is by using SEDUCTION.
        I'm sure that Gary (and yes I've read all his stuff) understands this totally
        and decided to just use another word.

        You can try to push people.

        PUSH = Persuade, manipulate, force, tell, cajole, instruct....etc

        or you can pull people.

        PULL = Entice, guide, tempt, seduce, enthrall, create curiosity ...etc

        One method works really well......the other not so good.

        The pull method is not manipulative.
        In the sense that we all accept for seduction, both parties recognise it and know that it is happening,
        but neither resists the process, it is after all, a pleasant experience to be enjoyed.

        When you try to push....THEY....resist, ignore, sidestep, squirm and generally feel uncomfortable.

        Same with copy writing.

        .
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        • Profile picture of the author SARubin
          No real sarcasm intended. I was just trying to understand your logic.
          Now I see what you're saying.

          Personally, I've always looked at "manipulation" as a negative form of persuasion.

          (i.e. Propaganda is generally a way of twisting a narrative, in an attempt to manipulate people into following an agenda, while not giving them the opportunity to know all the truthful facts)

          Substitute the word propaganda, for manipulative selling... and the definition still stands.


          On the other hand, I see "Persuasion" as a way of convincing someone to voluntarily accept the narrative, as a benefit to themselves, through logical, reasonable, and /or emotional presentation of the narrative.


          And I've always thought of seduction as being persuasion of a more intimate / sexual nature.


          But, I do see where you're coming from. So thanks for explaining it.

          All the best,

          SAR


          Originally Posted by helisell View Post

          Well your irony/sarcasm was not lost on me.

          Maybe he just doesn't understand the semantics.

          The best way to attract anyone to anything is by using SEDUCTION.
          I'm sure that Gary (and yes I've read all his stuff) understands this totally
          and decided to just use another word.

          You can try to push people.

          PUSH = Persuade, manipulate, force, tell, cajole, instruct....etc

          or you can pull people.

          PULL = Entice, guide, tempt, seduce, enthrall, create curiosity ...etc

          One method works really well......the other not so good.

          The pull method is not manipulative.
          In the sense that we all accept for seduction, both parties recognise it and know that it is happening,
          but neither resists the process, it is after all, a pleasant experience to be enjoyed.

          When you try to push....THEY....resist, ignore, sidestep, squirm and generally feel uncomfortable.

          Same with copy writing.

          .
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          • Profile picture of the author writeasrain
            Even with content marketing, you are still trying to persuade the client but through educating them so that they move towards you without being pushed to do so. It all depends on the words you use to educate your client about your product but using whatever words you do, you are still persuading, just not so obvious, not so pushy. Gives the client the option to move towards the product and towards you without feeling blatantly pushed. A more "educated" persuasion, but still persuasion. End product, though, is that the client feels he/she has come to you and not the other way around.
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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            Originally Posted by SARubin View Post


            Personally, I've always looked at "manipulation" as a negative form of persuasion.

            (i.e. Propaganda is generally a way of twisting a narrative, in an attempt to manipulate people into following an agenda, while not giving them the opportunity to know all the truthful facts)

            Substitute the word propaganda, for manipulative selling... and the definition still stands.
            I think the word you use for copywriting...or selling...tells me more about how you see it that what it really is.

            If you call it manipulative, that usually means you view it as something negative.

            Is the word "seduction" negative? It depends on who is saying it and in what context.

            To me, copywriting (or selling) is clear communication that matches the offer with the prospect's self image. But then, I think of copywriting as a noble profession that requires a high degree of insight and skill.

            Is copywriting manipulative? Sales copywriting is. But if you are telling a story without the intent of selling something...is it even copywriting anymore?

            If you see a beautiful painting, or watch a movie scene that makes you cry, or see a performance that fills you with awe....do you feel manipulated? I don't. But your feelings were pulled in a certain direction....

            Even watching a master salesperson that is taking my money..am I being manipulated? Yes. But it doesn't feel like that.So I wouldn't call it manipulation....seduction? Probably.
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            • Profile picture of the author SARubin
              Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

              I think the word you use for copywriting...or selling...tells me more about how you see it that what it really is.

              If you call it manipulative, that usually means you view it as something negative.
              I agree. That's why I don't call what I do "manipulation." I call it "persuasion" (and thanks to helisell, I'm starting to lean toward the term "seduction" as well)

              Maybe that brings us back to my original post about splitting linguistic hairs?

              I guess it's really just a matter of perspective, and intention.


              I personally don't start a job with the intention of "manipulating" anyone.

              When I start, I go into it with the intention of finding out... "how can this product, or service, improve peoples lives in some way?"

              If I don't believe in the product, or service (or the company) then I don't take the job.
              It's really not any more complicated than that (for me)


              Now, if I do believe in what's being sold, AND it's something that the market actually wants, then I begin the process of figuring out the best way to present it to the target audience.

              Often, people don't know what the best solution is for their problems, or what the best option is for improving their lives (sometimes they don't even know if there is a solution)

              If I can present them with a compelling (Persuasive? Seductive?) message, that allows them to make the right decision, that will improve their lot in life (whatever that means to them)...

              I see "that" as the noble profession of copywriting, and a service to the people being helped (my client, and their customers)


              So we can call it manipulation, or persuasion, or seduction....

              I guess it's really just a matter of perspective, and intention. And different words, can have different meanings, for different people.


              For example: What's the difference between "extortion"... and "taxation?"

              Answer: It depends on who you ask.

              All the best,
              SAR
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        • Profile picture of the author writeasrain
          I like this explanation because that is the method of content marketing. PULL. You seek to educate people about a product and basically, you are educating enough that the client will move more towards the sale on their own because they have been educated about the product and not PUSHED into any sale,
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  • I would wanna position myself as an expectation masseuse.

    It is mebbe less threatenin' than direct manipulation & prolly more persuasive when it comesta transformin' a soft sell into a hard sell.

    Point always is ... you gotta have sumthin' to work with, sumthin' people WANT, or the dialog stops dead.

    I know for a fact plenty people pay big bux for top quality Cuban cigars -- but nuthin' gonna persuade the cancer-wracked gal coughin' up her remainin' lung at deada night.

    *less'n she is frickin' stoopid*

    Gotta take the dream or hope or want or need -- large or small, real or deloosional -- an' finesse it into shape.

    That means massagin' expectation into sum kinda reality to have & hold in the fyooture -- WANNA reflected all allurin' in Time's Mirror as GONNA.
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  • Profile picture of the author helisell
    Claude?????

    quote
    If you read any of the books on Seduction or picking up women, ..........
    unquote


    A handsome specimen like you in the prime of life would surely never read a pick up book??

    Maybe you'd write one eh?

    ;0)
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by helisell View Post

      Claude?????

      quote
      If you read any of the books on Seduction or picking up women, ..........
      unquote


      A handsome specimen like you in the prime of life would surely never read a pick up book??

      Maybe you'd write one eh?

      ;0)
      I have a whole shelf of "Pick up" books. Maybe the best one is The Game. But I was never interested in any of these books until i read Dan Kennedy say that they were essentially marketing books.

      Something interesting you may want to do. I did a search on Match.com and read lots of listings for 25 year old women...and then read listings of 50 year old women. The difference is stark. It was interesting to me what they thought about...and what they thought men wanted to hear.


      I remember the prime of my life....
      By the way, about 10 years ago, at the Sahara hotel in Las Vegas (now gone), I was at the bar and a hooker sat down beside me. I told her I would give her $50 for 20 minutes of her time...if she would just tell me how she figured out how to approach, what to say, how to determine price, and other marketing questions. I was just interested in how she ran her business.

      She took the money and then wasn't very much help. After about ten minutes I realized that she was just a sad girl that hated what she did. So I told her I knew enough and let her go.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Hi Alex,

    All depends on if you do things from fear-scarcity predominantly or love-fun.

    Most human beings do stuff from fear-scarcity, with a heavy attachment on outcomes. Manipulating is the natural product or doing things from fear energy. Pretty common among copy guys and gals.

    But if you do what you do copy wise from a largely detached, fun, loving energy, the resistance dissolves, as does the fear, and you largely do not care about the outcome. Meaning, as the detachment increases, the manipulation decreases.

    For me, my copy is having fun helping people with free content, creating premium income streams, then just getting out of the way. I had to go through many years of suffering and manipulation before reaching this predominantly detached vibe though

    Ryan
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      Hi Alex,

      All depends on if you do things from fear-scarcity predominantly or love-fun.

      Most human beings do stuff from fear-scarcity, with a heavy attachment on outcomes. Manipulating is the natural product or doing things from fear energy. Pretty common among copy guys and gals.

      But if you do what you do copy wise from a largely detached, fun, loving energy, the resistance dissolves, as does the fear, and you largely do not care about the outcome. Meaning, as the detachment increases, the manipulation decreases.

      For me, my copy is having fun helping people with free content, creating premium income streams, then just getting out of the way. I had to go through many years of suffering and manipulation before reaching this predominantly detached vibe though

      Ryan
      Show me an example of copy you've written... and I'll show you how you're attempting to manipulate the reader.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author ezjob
    I don't think they try to manipulate. They just try to bring out all the benefits of the product in a way that makes the reader want the product.
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  • Profile picture of the author writeasrain
    A couple of Merriam-Webster definitions

    2. : a to manage or utilize skillfully

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manipulate
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Seems to me that most of this conversation is based on the connotations of the words, not the literal definitions.

    If I said "he got his leg chopped off", it brings up one picture, likely a fairly violent or gruesome one.

    If I said "he had his leg amputated", it brings up another picture, likely one of a surgical nature.

    Yet both statements are about the removal of an appendage.

    In that regard, I would agree with Alex's original premise. As copywriters, we pick and choose which pictures form in our readers' minds. And we choose them deliberately to support the outcome we desire.

    Which, I believe, does fall under the mantle of manipulation.

    Whether that manipulation is benign or malignant is where the connotations apply. If I manipulate a deck of cards to entertain people (like a magic trick), it's benign. If I perform the same kind of manipulation to steal money (cheating at card games), it's malignant. And that determines if I get a round of applause or a severe beating in an alley...
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  • Hellor Alex,

    How clever. A copywriter, unfairly manipulating their post about copywriters manipulating their readers.

    But to keep it real...

    ...ALL communication is bent on favoring the teller. Be it print, verbal, electronic or airways.

    Do some copywriters go to far? You bet they do.

    Painting a picture that all copywriters manipulate their readers, in your words: just about always, is unscrupulous.

    Chinchilla

    Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

    Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

    Yes, just about always.

    And if you're a copywriter who thinks you don't... you're in denial.

    Let's define the term:

    Manipulate: Control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.

    Here's proof of my contention...

    When you write copy, you accent the positives (benefits) of the product AND you mitigate (if you mention them at all) the negatives of the product.

    That fits the above definition.

    Not trying to condemn anybody, but hey, let's get real.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    As much as a fisherman tries to catch fish.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author IPLease
    You can sway someone with facts you have written. It is not cool to give false information just to have someone believe what you want them to believe though. Make sure all information you have is correct.
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  • Profile picture of the author ciuchka
    Here's Dan Sullivan`s take on selling: "Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result that is good for them and getting them to emotionally commit to taking action to achieve that result." I'm really interested in finding some answers to these questions:
    1) Who decides what's good for the customer?
    2) If the salesperson/copywriter decides what's best for the customer, what makes him qualified to make decisions for them?
    3) What do we do with the bias of the salesperson towards selling?


    Would love to hear your thoughts guys, as I find this is something that every "guru" out there is glossing over. ( almost ) Nobody seems to be interested in the consequences of their words / persuasion / strategies.

    PS: I think I found some answers , but would love your thoughts as well.
    PPS: Or, maybe it`s Dan Kennedy`s "Become comfortable with being the predator."?

    Thank you.
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  • Profile picture of the author helisell
    Here's Dan Sullivan`s take on selling: "Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result that is good for them and getting them to emotionally commit to taking action to achieve that result." I'm really interested in finding some answers to these questions:


    1) Who decides what's good for the customer?

    The doctor who examined the customer. Sorry I mean the 'expert' salesperson who qualified the customer.


    2) If the salesperson/copywriter decides what's best for the customer, what makes him qualified to make decisions for them?


    6 Years in medical school . Oops sorry, the experience of qualifying, (examining), Diagnosing, (using ones experience to come up with a perfect solution) ,Prognosing, (Deciding what's best and selecting the solution), Prescribing, (presenting the solution to the customer based on their symptoms)


    3) What do we do with the bias of the salesperson towards selling?
    What bias? A truly pro salesperson will have no bias. That includes telling the customer
    that they need something other than what I can prescribe.



    Would love to hear your thoughts guys, as I find this is something that every "guru" out there is glossing over. ( almost ) Nobody seems to be interested in the consequences of their words / persuasion / strategies.

    PS: I think I found some answers , but would love your thoughts as well.
    PPS: Or, maybe it`s Dan Kennedy`s "Become comfortable with being the predator."?

    Dan Kennedy is NOT the best person to get your moral compass from.

    Thank you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by helisell View Post



      3) What do we do with the bias of the salesperson towards selling?
      What bias? A truly pro salesperson will have no bias. That includes telling the customer
      that they need something other than what I can prescribe.
      That's very true. Part of knowing how to sell is accepting the responsibility for the recommendations you make.

      In many (maybe most) cases, the very best thing you can do for the prospect is help him buy your service/product.

      But sometimes you have to "Man up" and let the person know that buying your offer wouldn't be in their best interest.

      One of the few times I felt that I made a significant advance in my selling, is when I understood that it was my responsibility to give truly the best recommendation, based on my expertise....whether it benefited me personally or not.
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      • Profile picture of the author helisell
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        That's very true. Part of knowing how to sell is accepting the responsibility for the recommendations you make.

        In many (maybe most) cases, the very best thing you can do for the prospect is help him buy your service/product.

        But sometimes you have to "Man up" and let the person know that buying your offer wouldn't be in their best interest.

        One of the few times I felt that I made a significant advance in my selling, is when I understood that it was my responsibility to give truly the best recommendation, based on my expertise....whether it benefited me personally or not.


        Becoming great at selling gives one great power.

        With great power comes great responsibility.

        It is the salesperson's responsibility to always present (or suggest) the best solution we have, that fits the customers needs, that they can afford.

        We find out all that information by doing a thorough examination (qualification).

        In terms of my doctor analogy, the doctor would not normally give you a quick 'once over' followed by a prescription that might make you better (rather than one that would definitely make you better) just because he gets more commission selling you the other drug (well we'd hope that was the case anyway.)

        If anyone wants to make quick money they can easily lie, cheat and blag their way to a sale.......but not if they want to keep doing it long term.

        That's what separates the true pro's from the desperate wannabe's.

        Some great contributions on this thread.
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  • Profile picture of the author ciuchka
    Thank you very much for your thoughts @Helisell. Really helpful.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bella Lopez
    We're all here for a reason. The main intent of copywriting is often to drive traffic and increase conversions and we all want to achieve our end goals.

    Call it manipulation or persuasion, we all want to make our product (or service) stand out from the rest. As long as we are not giving any wrong information, and our intent is right, there is no harm in a little "manipulation".
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  • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
    Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

    Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

    Honestly, I don't think of it that way...

    When I write sales copy, I don't try to trick or coerce the prospect into buying. Instead, I try to help them; I try to solve their problem. That's my focus.

    The concept is a bit deeper than that, of course, but I'll say this...

    Years ago, when I made the paradigm shift from trying to MAKE people buy... to trying to get them to WANT to buy -- my copy improved immensely.

    John
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post

      Honestly, I don't think of it that way...

      When I write sales copy, I don't try to trick or coerce the prospect into buying. Instead, I try to help them; I try to solve their problem. That's my focus.

      The concept is a bit deeper than that, of course, but I'll say this...

      Years ago, when I made the paradigm shift from trying to MAKE people buy... to trying to get them to WANT to buy -- my copy improved immensely.

      John
      In your copy, when you talk about the positive aspects of the product, do you also mention the negatives ones?

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author ciuchka
        Great question Alex Cohen
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        In your copy, when you talk about the positive aspects of the product, do you also mention the negatives ones?

        Alex

        Alex; I know you didn't ask me...but the question is too important to ignore.

        I always, whether in print or personal sales, talk about any negatives. In fact, if I think it may be a deal breaker, I'll being it up first thing.

        As an example, I used to sell a vacuum cleaner in peoples's homes that was bulky and heavy. It had great features...but it's weight wasn't one of them. The first thing I'd do when I took it out of the box as ask them to pick it up. "Is that going to be too heavy for you?"

        And sometimes they said "Yes", and the appointment was over.

        Why did I bring it up at the beginning?
        That's when I want to know if it's a deal breaker.... Or if it matters.

        And I certainly don't want them bringing it up, because them it's a problem...an objection. Get it out there...maybe even make a bigger deal out of it that they would. I remember often hearing "Well, Claude...it is a little heavy...but it isn't that heavy. I think it will be fine". I've also sold vacuums that are noisy. Same thing. Bring it up at the beginning. Let them tell you that it's not a big deal.

        In the rare times I was selling with a sales letter, I always mentioned any feature that they may not like. I want them to know about it before they send the money...before I have to send in a refund...before it turns into a complaint. In a sales letter, I might even put it in the headline.

        Trying to hide negatives is a real technique, I suppose. I call it a beginner technique.

        I will now step off of my portable soapbox.
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      • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        In your copy, when you talk about the positive aspects of the product, do you also mention the negatives ones?
        Alex,

        I get your point.

        However, I largely avoid the issue of "negatives" by being EXTREMELY selective about the products and services I write copy for. I turn down more than HALF of the copywriting projects presented to me.

        I won't use my skills to promote products I don't like. (It's a Spiderman sort of thing -- "With great power, comes great responsibility.")

        Besides... writing copy for a quality product is a joy (often, the copy practically writes itself). Whereas, writing copy for a poor product is nothing but pain from start to finish (at least, for me).

        John
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
          Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post

          Alex,

          I get your point.

          However, I largely avoid the issue of "negatives" by being EXTREMELY selective about the products and services I write copy for. I turn down more than HALF of the copywriting projects presented to me.

          I won't use my skills to promote products I don't like. (It's a Spiderman sort of thing -- "With great power, comes great responsibility.")

          Besides... writing copy for a quality product is a joy (often, the copy practically writes itself). Whereas, writing copy for a poor product is nothing but pain from start to finish (at least, for me).

          John
          John, I get your point, and I mostly agree with it.

          But no product is perfect. What may seem trivial to one prospect will be a dealbreaker to another. Best to get those things out in the open.

          I know I've become extremely wary of 'too good to be true' presentations.

          For example, there's a doughnut shop near here that makes incredible doughnuts. Good variety, fresh, fluffy, tasty. But they close in mid-afternoon, or when they run out of product. You may drive up and find a locked door with a handwritten sign saying 'out of stock'. They also are cash-only. Yet business is booming.

          Suppose they hid those two little facts, and people showed up in the evening, credit cards in hand? The first question may well be "why didn't they tell me that?"
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          • Profile picture of the author ciuchka
            Are they mentioning the "'out of stock' part?
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  • Profile picture of the author BoldIntWriters
    Personally, I think the copywriting industry should aim to bring back some credibility to the information they provide.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
    Manipulate is technically correct but entice would be better in the sales copy for copywriters
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Halloran
    Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

    Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

    Yes, just about always.

    And if you're a copywriter who thinks you don't... you're in denial.

    Let's define the term:

    Manipulate: Control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.

    Here's proof of my contention...

    When you write copy, you accent the positives (benefits) of the product AND you mitigate (if you mention them at all) the negatives of the product.

    That fits the above definition.

    Not trying to condemn anybody, but hey, let's get real.

    Alex
    I agree. Copywrighters are trying to make the sale from their copy. As dispassionate as they might try to be, if their reason for writing is to make a sale, it's almost impossible not embellish the truth.
    A good book on this is Influence by Robert Claidini. It's a fascinating read and a must for any copywriter. It also explains the massive impact the media has over the population.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Tim Halloran View Post

      . As dispassionate as they might try to be, if their reason for writing is to make a sale, it's almost impossible not embellish the truth.
      I don't think they are dispassionate.

      Embellishing the truth isn't good copywriting..or good selling. Clear communication and matching the offer to the reader is good copywriting.

      But misrepresent? Lie? Exaggerate? That's simply bad selling. And with any degree of real talent, it's never necessary.

      At least, that's my experience.
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  • Question is WTF, I guess.

    What miraclestuffsya gonna pull outta the Cosmos gonna mix & match all sweet with the Happiness Comes From Within vibe proffered from BUX BEFORE WE DELIVER PLZ gurus aheada luck, talent or broot diligence?

    FFS the "TF" -- prolly we gotta hit on the W here.

    Cos W is kinda big time important.

    Here's what Geno Feebly had to say 'bout W:

    "What immodest creatures we are to select from beyond all opportunity precisely the nipples we would want to present themselves before our gaze and invite our lips to kiss on eternal succor."

    World is fulla baby birds openin' up their mouths for Mama's vomit.

    DEAR, SWEET JESUS -- BALESTRA GAL'S A HARDCORE MANIPULATREUSE! SOUND THE F*CKING WARRIOR FORUM ALERT!!*

    No, see -- cos I gotta fly off sumplace & forage out for what gonna keep my sweeties alive, mebbe make 'em happy.

    An' most times, you gotta dish upya smarts jus' how they wannit.

    Prolly in my dreams I would wanna have manipulative power o'er all dominion.

    But I got mouths to feed.

    * !!!
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Originally Posted by ciuchka View Post

    Are they mentioning the "'out of stock' part?
    I'm guessing that this is aimed at me.

    (The old forum interface doesn't necessarily run in threaded order. It's helpful to either use the Quote button when replying, or add the username of the person to whom you are replying.)

    Yes, the sign giving the store hours says '...or until we run out.'
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  • Profile picture of the author saucefire
    True. But then why single out copywriters? Don't all humans attempt to "manipulate" each other? At any time, we have to influence others into exchanging with us to get what we want in life. We can't produce everything ourselves so dealing with others is necessary.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by saucefire View Post

      True. But then why single out copywriters? Don't all humans attempt to "manipulate" each other? At any time, we have to influence others into exchanging with us to get what we want in life. We can't produce everything ourselves so dealing with others is necessary.
      Stop and think about every human interaction you had today. Many of them involved no manipulation whatsoever.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
        "Manipulation" and "Persuasion" are Worlds apart (IMO). For me an important component to writing persuasive Copy is being upfront, honest, and transparent ... Prospects/readers/etc. can tell when you're being honest (etc.).

        2C
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        "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity."―Joseph Sugarman
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffrey Joson
    everyone always manipulates each other every day, i don't think its wrong, it's just the matter what it's your limit
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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
      Originally Posted by Jeffrey Joson View Post

      Everyone always manipulates each other every day, I don't think its wrong, it's just the matter what it's your limit
      I've heard that before. Personally I don't go around "manipulating" People. (Which according to Goolgle is defined as: "The action of manipulating someone in a clever or unscrupulous way.")
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      "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity."―Joseph Sugarman
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  • Profile picture of the author copyghost
    I'd put creating artificial scarcity in the manipulation camp. And as we all know, offers with scarcity usually outpull offers without. That's why we do all these B.S. deadlines and countdown timers and even pull products off the market.
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  • Profile picture of the author ecoverartist
    Manipulation has a poor connotation associated with it. Persuasion, to me, sounds like a scummy used-car salesman.

    I'd like to think that instead, copywriters are masters of positioning. We look at ways to position this product or service in such a way that it attracts the right kind of clients who take the action we want them to take (i.e. a conversion). We do that through the power of words, but also pillars like social proof, video, testimonials and so on. All of this props up our USP, which again, feeds back into positioning.
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  • Profile picture of the author copyghost
    Wow. Just got an email. I'm informed there's "only one copy left" of a digital product that was launched today. Persuasion or manipulation?
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by copyghost View Post

      Wow. Just got an email. I'm informed there's "only one copy left" of a digital product that was launched today. Persuasion or manipulation?
      Very clumsy and amateurish attempt at creating scarcity, at least without a reason given for the limit.

      One of Ken Evoy's first digital products was about picking penny stocks. He placed a limit on the number of copies sold for the very plausible reason that too many people using the system on a relatively small universe of stocks would ruin the effectiveness of the system.

      I used to use a data analysis program I wrote for picking horse races. At the time, it was very effective at finding winners. Later, the same data started appearing in the Daily Racing Form. While the system still picked winners, the odds on those winners were often so low that it was very difficult to come out ahead.

      So there are legitimate reasons for limiting the number of copies sold of a digital product.

      Without those reasons, all you have left is a clumsy scarcity play.
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