6 replies
I've been thinking recently that I need to do a bit more reading (and don't worry, this isn't a 'what books should I read' thread - I've been through the sticky and Amazon is now that little bit richer).

I finished Andy Maslen's 'Write to Sell' the other day, and I wanted to see what y'all thought of it.

Mostly, I thought it was pretty good. He's clearly pretty smart (and by this I mean I agree with him a lot). Some of the book was a bit low-level, but the audience is meant to include complete beginners, so that's kind of expected.

That said, there was some stuff in there that I knew but it was really useful to have it codified - in particular his Know-Feel-Commit flow and the different types of benefit.

There was also the idea of power words - the monosyllables that pack a heavy emotional punch. Again, this isn't new stuff, but the simple idea of making a list to refer to had never occured to me (because I is clevers), and it's ideas like this that made the book worth reading.

The one bit I really didn't agree with was his hard line on cliches. Sometimes, yes, you should definitely avoid them, but people love familiarity so sometimes it's better to use a phrase they instantly get and don't have to think about. They're a tool that's good for a certain type of job, so putting them in the same 'never touch' box as nuclear waste seems a bit OTT.

Anyone else who's read Write to Sell, what did you think? Great? Mediocre? Useful only as a source of paper aeroplanes to throw at passers by?

#sell #write
  • Profile picture of the author TimRobinson
    I haven't read the book, but it sounds great. Although i do dislike it when copywriters say 'always avoid this' or 'always do that', because oftentimes they give "rules" based on their own feelings rather than actual data. Did he do a lot of testing to make sure his assumptions were correct?
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyNeedham
    Haven't read the book but I disagree with the part about cliches. Like you said, they can help breed a sense of familiarity--that know, like and trust. Sometimes though I try to tweak them just a bit so they're still recognizable but not so worn out.
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    • Profile picture of the author ARSuarez
      I've seen a trend against cliches - but really, it's never so much against cliches in general as it is their overuse.

      Yeah, nobody minds sprinkling them throughout the copy. They help. But using them excessively, constantly, is a recipe for disaster. Use them to transition, use them to add emotion, and use them when you need to make a connection or a point. Don't use them idly.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        A cliche is already an overused phrase or expression. That's why it's called a cliche.

        So Maslen's hard line on cliches is reasonable.

        Instead, use words with strong mental imagery... like slang or "power" words.

        (And be careful with those. Many of them have also become overused.)

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  • Profile picture of the author hittjw

    According to his website, Andy Maslen's definitely shown he can do good work for his clients. But I don't know about this "never using cliché." You can use cliché if demonstrating how some promises are so overused that they lose there meaning.

    For example, in stressing your difference as a company and guarantee (b2b parts supplier) cliché can imply the customer hears the same thing from everyone. In this, that other companies promises are worn out --
    "Satisfaction guaranteed? What does that really mean to you who puts your reputation on the line when choosing {SOLUTION}. It's like saying something cliché like, 'Keep your fingers crossed.'

    And that's how it is with some companies, but when you work with {COMPANY} you've got protection you can count on. First, Satisfaction here means you'll get your order on time every time.

    Second, It will be the right order, even if we make a mistake, you've got our 24/7 telephone hotline to get answers to overnight what you really needed.

    I'll even personally pay the shipping and handling both ways, no return authorizations! Just pack it up, let us know, and we'll have it picked up while what you needed is on the way.

    With some you get 'A hope and a prayer', but from us you get our solid promise to earn your trust with every order. That's why so many choose to do business with {COMPANY} for more than 25 years."
    The glaring admission is meant to take the pressure off a purchasing agent who ordered the wrong part. They won't be made to look stupid because engineering transcribed a number of a requisition.

    Anyway, you don't need our confirmation if the book is good or not. How did what you learn work in your business? A new book is always a good reason to add another step to a follow up campaign.

    I find that most copy writing advice is worth a test against something you know works for you -- but even challenging it can work with the right approach too.


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    • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
      You can use cliches to write some effective copy. Just don't have a cliche in every paragraph. Mix your cliches with some good analogies and metaphors. This helps move your reader along your copy to your call to action.

      They help grease the slide.
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