What's your biggest 'copy hate'?

49 replies
Fellow copywriters, I bet you have a personal niggle when it comes to copy that just drives you insane, right?

For me, I hate it when people just say something IS unique because they're too lazy to explain WHY it's unique. It just gets me every time.

I'm looking to write an article on what makes other copywriters hit the roof and would love to know what makes you want to scream.

So, what's your biggest 'copy hate'? All thoughts would be thoroughly welcome.

Cheers,
Glenn
#bad copy #biggest #biggest obstacle #copy #copy hate #copywriting #good copy #hate
  • Profile picture of the author Ultimately
    Its got to be the lack of originality in sales letters that gets me, too many carbon copy pitches... The same ol' sensationalized copy - same formatting even!
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    • Profile picture of the author kcfried
      Superlatives stacked on superlatives... little if any testimonials... take your pick they both grate on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
        Banned
        Potential copywriting clients who drive me mental. I just want to strangle them. An over the top emotion I know. But they drive me up the wall.

        No offense but silly little marketers with their silly demands. I just want to throttle the lot of them. Time wasters and idiots, I can't stand them.

        "Send me samples now!"

        What do you think I am, a bloody dog you can whistle and command at will you pesky little wotsit? Get lost! Demand my attention like that and you can run and jump. Preferably over a high cliff. And bloody good riddance too!

        "I want you to write me some sales copy only I've not created the product yet."

        Me... "What's the product you've got in mind and when do you think you'll be launching it?"

        "No idea, I haven't thought that far ahead yet."

        What the bleedin' dickens are you doing then contacting me to waste my time? Grrrrr!

        I mean 10 of these a day, it's enough to drive a bloody saint up the wall! Drives me bloomin' scatty. Give me a very powerful firework and let me ram it up your (where the sun doesn't shine) and allow me the pleasure please to light your fuse. Now get lost! Aghhhhh!



        Kindest regards,


        Pete Walker
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      • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
        Originally Posted by Naren Shayc View Post

        ...darn clich├ęs and attacks on other products to raise perceived value - "I'm tired of all the BS"

        Yea, there was a time when that worked like a charm, but now all the B.S gurus sell their B.S products by talking about how sick they are of all the B.S products being sold by B.S Gurus...
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    • Profile picture of the author jamesboulay
      Originally Posted by Ultimately View Post

      Its got to be the lack of originality in sales letters that gets me, too many carbon copy pitches... The same ol' sensationalized copy - same formatting even!
      You stole my thunder lol. I agree, very little ingenuity nowadays.
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  • Profile picture of the author rennai
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author arfasaira
      Pete, I agree with you...

      Just yesterday I was asked to write a sales letter for a course selling at a few thousand dollars...and the client gave me NO product to go through...just some notes of what each course module was about

      Say again? No product? You want a world class sales letter for an expensive course which btw is NOT even ready and for which you only have some scant notes on?

      How the heck am I supposed to extract bullets from a few notes? What the heck are your notes about, because dear, they are YOUR notes which make sense to YOU and NOT to me! Sheesh!

      Sorry darling, come back with the product or put your project on hold until you decide to complete it, because I am NOT a miracle worker!

      Arrrrggggghhhhh!
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Sanchez
    1. Poor research

    2. Clients who think they know how to write copy.

    3. Outright lies.

    @arfasaira
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  • Profile picture of the author DanielleLynnCopy
    Pete and Arfa - oh my yes.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my clients - I'm very careful to work with people who understand that I'm providing them with a key service essential to the success of whatever it is they're offering.

    What I don't care for are prospects who have a notion that anyone who writes will throw themselves to the floor for handful of dollars.

    My personal pet peeve however is dishonesty. Please don't request copy for your "Make Millions per Week" book... then say you can't afford the copy fees. :p

    Tricking your customers out of hard earned dollars is NOT the foundation on which to build a business.
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  • Profile picture of the author SusanLandry
    Regarding copy itself: I loathe artificially hyped copy that "speaks" to the reader as if they're a bloody idiot who will swallow anything. I also detest copy that spits out fact after meaningless fact, yet says nothing about how the product or service will benefit the prospective buyer. Isn't that the main point?

    Regarding clients: I cringe when prospects want me to write copy to sell a product for which there is absolutely no market need or desire. It's even worse when I see that someone has poured their life savings into a very silly idea. I also get a bit of indigestion when prospects say to me, "Well my budget is small right now, but when this takes off I'll have tons more work for you and can pay you more!" If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that, I'd be jet-setting around the world with a purse full of cash and Fi-fi the dog tucked under my arm.

    But as Danielle Lynn said, I am very careful about the people I work with and can honestly say that I adore most of my clients.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
      Banned
      Originally Posted by SusanLandry View Post

      I also get a bit of indigestion when prospects say to me, "Well my budget is small right now, but when this takes off I'll have tons more work for you and can pay you more!" If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that, I'd be jet-setting around the world with a purse full of cash and Fi-fi the dog tucked under my arm.
      Pete chuckles.

      This has been posted up before, quite a funny video, albeit very bad foul language so be warned...


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      • Profile picture of the author sanjaypande
        There is a reason I don't work for the large corps anymore. And this video says it best.

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      • Profile picture of the author apolwar
        Originally Posted by Mark Andrews View Post

        Pete chuckles.

        This has been posted up before, quite a funny video, albeit very bad foul language so be warned...

        Graphic Designer vs client - YouTube

        hahahahaha... that was epic!

        "...in Microsoft Word.' hahahahahaha

        It reminded me of this one client I had. He wasn't willing to use and learn any other software except the one mentioned above. I had to do the designs for his forms again in MS Word. lol....



        And the most 'hate' thing is when the article or write up doesn't even touch up anything about the product which is in the title. lol
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    • Profile picture of the author sandrasims
      Originally Posted by SusanLandry View Post

      Regarding copy itself: I loathe artificially hyped copy that "speaks" to the reader as if they're a bloody idiot who will swallow anything. I also detest copy that spits out fact after meaningless fact, yet says nothing about how the product or service will benefit the prospective buyer. Isn't that the main point?

      Regarding clients: I cringe when prospects want me to write copy to sell a product for which there is absolutely no market need or desire. It's even worse when I see that someone has poured their life savings into a very silly idea. I also get a bit of indigestion when prospects say to me, "Well my budget is small right now, but when this takes off I'll have tons more work for you and can pay you more!" If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that, I'd be jet-setting around the world with a purse full of cash and Fi-fi the dog tucked under my arm.

      But as Danielle Lynn said, I am very careful about the people I work with and can honestly say that I adore most of my clients.
      What Susan said!!

      Plus, it bugs me when the copy is not specific enough. From the examples, to the benefits to the testimonials (signing testimonials with initials? how believable is that?), be more specific, more REAL.
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      • Profile picture of the author nick1980
        Originally Posted by sandrasims View Post

        What Susan said!!

        Plus, it bugs me when the copy is not specific enough. From the examples, to the benefits to the testimonials (signing testimonials with initials? how believable is that?), be more specific, more REAL.
        Yep, initials for testimonials or just something like "Mary W" really ticks me off! It looks so made-up, because most of the time it is. If you're going to lie, at least put some effort into it!
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    • Profile picture of the author JimmyR
      Originally Posted by SusanLandry View Post

      Regarding copy itself: I loathe artificially hyped copy that "speaks" to the reader as if they're a bloody idiot who will swallow anything. I also detest copy that spits out fact after meaningless fact, yet says nothing about how the product or service will benefit the prospective buyer. Isn't that the main point?
      Thing is, most people will believe anything if it is said in a convincing way. It never ceases to blow my mind how silly people can be. (This is in no way condoning artificially hyped copy - sometimes just reading this kind of stuff makes me want to throw my PC out the window)
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  • Profile picture of the author annabelle07
    False claims like the use 'No. 1 in the....' - hate that phrase. Like really, I know it, you know it, we all know that you're not 'No. 1....'!!
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  • Profile picture of the author KateHunter
    Going on and on about how great IT is but no actual detail about what IT actually is.
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    • I hate 67 word hyped up headlines - like...


      “Who Else Wants The Closely Jealously Guarded, Never Before Revealed 27 Super Secrets That Unleash Your Website Into A Cash Sucking Money Monster On Steroids. Flooding You With 1000’s Of New Customers Every Minute 24/7. Forcing Them Into A Demented Buying Frenzy Desperate To Pour Huge Amounts Of Money Again And Again Into Your Merchant Account. Turbo Charging Your Sales And Boosting Your Income Into The Stratosphere And Beyond”



      I sort of prefer...


      “Need Your Website To Make You A Lot More Money – Here’s How…”


      Or, because fear of lose is always greater than the possibility of gain.


      “Your Website Is Losing You A Lot Of Money – Here’s How We’ll Fix It…”
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      • Profile picture of the author Azarna
        I agree - any that starts with 'Who else wants ...' it sounds so patronising.

        And I just KNOW it will go on to have all the same elements as most the junky stuff.

        I hate it when the seller claims they wrote the product 'I was tired of not being able to find what I wanted, so I sat down and wrote it myself!'. Yesterday I spotted this one on a salespage for a public domain book written in 1880. Impressive that someone at least 140 years old is so computer savy as to advertise it again now... What sort of merchant can bring themselves to so blatantly lie to potential customers?

        Oh, and I am instantly turned off when there is a great list of 'bonuses', each of which is probably apparently 'worth' more than the overall package. If a product is really good, why on earth does it need bribes to make me buy it?

        When I buy something from a respectable 'big name' web site I see the item, the price and that is the end of it. The product can stand on its own merits.
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    • Profile picture of the author livinglife2099
      Originally Posted by KateHunter View Post

      Going on and on about how great IT is but no actual detail about what IT actually is.


      This has to be my #1 issue. After reading a long over the top sale's letter then testimonies that are over the top, I am often still wondering, What the hell is it?
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  • Tyspos!...(correction)...Typos!

    We all make an error from time to time, but when the typo is so blatant it should not have been missed, it can put the credibility of the product into question. Especially if the product or service is about paying attention to details.

    Case in point: I was testing a software for a trading company a few years back. The software was several thousand dollars. The first thing you saw upon opening the box, was a registration warning in large print to read everything carefully. This was on a separate sheet of paper in bright orange so you would NOT miss it!

    Well, I must have been the only one to read it carefully - because in the title (in large font) was a typo. This one little mistake in the first impression could have put their whole software product into question...if they did not see this detail? What else will happen when I install it?

    Simple mistake - but potentially costly.

    Another time, I saw a full page ad with champion golfer "Phil Nicholsen" endorsing a product on the second page of Golf Magazine - (golfers of course, know this man as Phil Mickelson)

    I sent an email in this regard to the president of the product company in question, and he returned my email thanking me for calling his attention to that. He was not a happy fellow, and I got the impression heads would roll. For the price he probably paid for that ad, I don't blame him.
    (I cannot remember what the product was - some new golf gizmo that makes you play like Phil, I'm sure)

    Again, a simple mistake, but very embarrassing...

    Not to trash our own neighborhood, but just look in the WSO's - you will find some real doozies.
    Very nicely designed ads with headers and copy full of simple but embarrassing mistakes.

    As internet marketers, We don't have the many levels of incompetence that large agencies often seem to employ - we are usually a one man show, and often have to be incompetent all by ourselves!
    We have to make sure all the bases are covered to prevent that from happening.

    Remember the proverbial rhyme "For Want of a Nail" ?

    The other thing that drives me crazy is writing your, instead of you're - and their, there, and they're, used incorrectly...but we won't go there now - :rolleyes:

    Just my 2 scents (sp?)

    3M
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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      Originally Posted by MoneyMagnetMagnate View Post

      Tyspos!...(correction)...Typos!

      Oh, I get it! Cuz the first one was a typo... lol
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  • Profile picture of the author BartsTreasures
    This drives me up the wall....Money Making ads/Business Opportunity Ads that spend 90% of the copy explaining to me the benefits of being 'rich' and 10% of the ad telling me what the product offering actually is!
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  • Profile picture of the author nick1980
    I think this may have already been said but bonuses which carry a ridiculously high 'value' really grinds my gears (Family Guy reference there). The product is apparently only $47, yet a crappy little bonus e-book is supposedly worth $100!
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  • Profile picture of the author 0ldfart
    Originally Posted by Glenn@AllGoodCopy View Post

    So, what's your biggest 'copy hate'? All thoughts would be thoroughly welcome.
    My biggest copy hate is when people fail to use apostrophe appropriately

    It drives me nut's when I see them inserted semi-randomly into word's

    Apparently its too difficult for some writers to Google "How do I use apostrophes?" before publishing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Masterminding
    Originally Posted by Glenn@AllGoodCopy View Post

    Fellow copywriters, I bet you have a personal niggle when it comes to copy that just drives you insane, right?

    For me, I hate it when people just say something IS unique because they're too lazy to explain WHY it's unique. It just gets me every time.

    I'm looking to write an article on what makes other copywriters hit the roof and would love to know what makes you want to scream.

    So, what's your biggest 'copy hate'? All thoughts would be thoroughly welcome.

    Cheers,
    Glenn
    There is no good sales copy without good research... and my biggest copy hate is researching products that are about topics no studies have been done about and hardly anyone ever talks about online. The end result: having to base certain assumptions about the ideal prospect on 5-10 opinions which is FAR from ideal.

    Still, some sales letters still end up doing well, but the research phase would be a lot easier if people came to us writers with the places and/or faces we can investigate for info on our prospects.
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  • Profile picture of the author MedicalWriter
    Sales letters that look and sound as if they were sent through a spinner. A few phrases changed, and the English is poorer than the original.
    The increasing virtualization of not only the platforms we market on, but the copy that sells products. I think people are getting further away from real human beings in marketing, and trying more and more to leverage "human buying behavior." How sad.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I hate the B.S earning figures. Maybe some are true but the mere fact that people claim you can make so much money is off-putting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Toniy
    Oh wow how did I only just find this thread?

    I... LOVE hating. Honestly it's like a brain massage getting to write up all the littles niggles, detestations, fury-inducers and hate-clouds that crop up every now and again

    Although now I don't want to be a copywriter anymore... so thanks Glenn :p

    Alright, give me a couple of months and I'll come up with something incredible. I'll start keeping records and rank them in order of hate.

    EDIT:

    OH, OH, OH!!

    I just found one

    This is a slightly modified transcript of one... 'client' (read: tosspot) who got me writing copy back when I was writing articles and thought 'sure I can write copy, I used to be a telemarketer'

    It was my one and only attempt at writing copy before making the choice to actually BECOME a copywriter... and learn copy :p

    BACKGROUND: I'd written a couple articles for this guy and he wasn't as gracious as most people... I was used to 'thanks so much, this is excellent work'... not 'thx, do you write copy?'

    You dick.

    So I went about it, got the brief: "I want persuasive, compelling copy that's also informative"... thanks mate, I'll get to it.

    Remember, I was an article writer... oblivious to the science, let alone the art of sales copy.

    I'd just written the copy and got a reply "You've missed a lot out and it looks like you've outsourced it to someone in the third world..."

    Now I'll say this right now... working with incomplete information only gives a writer so much to work with... and my spelling and grammar is exceptional... having to 'guess' what the hell's going on 'may' result in things not making sense to the fully informed... I did the very best with what I was given and his 'critiques' were irritating, argumentative and facile, in my humble opinion... like he just wanted to make himself look better at my job than I was :p

    Here's the conversation, edited in case that creepy ******* is still around somewhere... (I saw his picture in skype... took an instant dislike... it reeked of arrogance and condescension. I mean, who strikes their 'cool pose' in sepia for business anyway? Are you trying to sell discount pharmaceuticals or get laid you GOON?!)

    Tosspot (TP): (quoting from copy after keeping me waiting for 24 minutes) Providing healthcare... shouldn't this be 'receiving' healthcare? And aren't medication and prescription drugs the same? Why mention both?

    Me: Indeed, the idea is that the customer will be receiving their medication from the online pharmacy, but in turn empowering themselves by finding an alternative to the standard local pharmacy... it makes the customer feel rewarded for thinking differently from everybody else by using an online service and for making the effort to improve their situation and that of their family. This is done by naming them as a provider, rather than simply a consumer...

    As for medication and presecription drugs, potentially yes they are the same, however there's also over the counter medication... I thought it may be worth encompassing everything.

    TP: i understand that but that's a hard concept to grasp for a 10 years old and that's how this should be written, for 10 years old kids

    if you know what i mean

    Me: I do know what you mean... the demographic was for 50 year old women, correct? My perspective was that a woman of this age is starting to feel past her prime as a provider and if their primary concern is their pharmacy, it would be beneficial to make them feel good about themselves. The concept, I didn't think needed spelling out to them and would register on a subconscious level.

    TP: these people are medicated and they cant even find the address bar in their browser (sends me file with the... like 6 changes he made)

    Me: (looks at the file) So the take home message is that we're addressing medicated 50 year old folks who can't handle too much information in one go.

    TP: yes exactly and "to the point". less fluff, more facts

    Me: It seems simple enough, all I need to do is take the energy out of it. I was concerned that this would essentially be a duplicate of your email is all... I figured anyone could put your bullet points into sentence form, so it needed some elaboration, otherwise you would have written it yourself.

    TP: make sure you covered all the points listed, for example for shipping - there are no border fees they need to worry about

    Me: A quick question... you've written 'Since 2003 is missing'... is that when your business was established? There was no mention of that in the email and I wasn't given your web address. It's definitely a selling point.

    TP: yes we need to add that there

    (10 minutes later)

    TP: do you also provide other services such as writing title and description writing for social bookmarking

    or titles for articles in bulk

    Me: That's not something I've done so far... the vast majority of my business is SEO articles... so blog posts, front pages, ezine submissions... social bookmarking is something I'd suggest you outsource to a much cheaper service... most people I know tend towards the Philippines if that helps.

    TP: i need unique titles and descriptions
    not submission service
    so it is copywriting

    (I'm working at making some of the ridiculous changes for a couple of hours at 1 am or 4 am by now... he knew that.)

    TP: ... any update?

    ... didn't work with him again, got paid but not an ounce of thanks or feedback.


    OH... I feel excellent now And I LOVED those videos!
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  • Profile picture of the author IdrisSG
    My personal copy hate...

    When clients who know nuts about writing persuasive copywriting... whose own ads have repeated failed for years... who have never picked up a book on writing good copy... Tell me to change my copy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Glenn@AllGoodCopy
    Saw an example of more bad copy that personally drives me up the wall, but does seem to be done by a number of pro copywriters out there...

    When people describe a product or service as unique, but don't actually explain what is unique about it.

    As I always tell off anyone who I'm tutoring: a turd can be unique, that does not make it good!
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  • Profile picture of the author AllyChurch
    Banned
    I can be a bit of a grammar and punctuation natzi! Poor research and dishonesty are unfortunately common.
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  • Profile picture of the author vdx_marketing
    Hahaha! This is a fantastic thread - I really don't come to this site often enough! I think two things I hate are:
    1: Clients who ask me 'how long' a sales letter will be. You know, the old long copy versus short copy thing. Charging thousands of dollars to write a letter.

    2: Making an entire campaign for a client, and they never use it.

    Oh well... people are people I guess.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamesboulay
    One thing that bothers me and always makes me think "are they a gypsy?" is when they act as a fortune teller, ie. "I GUARANTEE this will......"
    Another one is pulling testimonials and throwing them all over the sales page, especially when they are copied and the original product's name is not removed lol. Testimonials may make some feel better about a purchase, however I always go under the assumption they are related in some way to the individual pushing the item down my throat.
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  • Profile picture of the author Toniy
    Testimonials are there to back big claims or to reassure the prospect of your credibility.

    In essence... it isn't copywriting at all, but a useful tool for the copywriter.

    You can also demonstrate the client's expertise by spending a little time educating the prospect within the sales letter.

    7 pages of testimonials is overkill

    Some guys choose to go that way...

    But if you're going to let past customers do the selling for you (in their own limited ways)... there's not much need for the copywriter at all :p

    Same thing as 'PoE' screenshots... not as important for a good copywriter as it is for a poor one.

    Although writing for the IM market is a little skewed anyway, lots of saturation, lots of distrust, lots of copy+pasting... so hell, maybe 7 pages of proof and earnings screenshots is all copy really needs to be nowadays:rolleyes:
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    • Profile picture of the author Glenn@AllGoodCopy
      Originally Posted by Toniy View Post

      7 pages of testimonials is overkill
      You're right. I've done a lot of heatmap testing on this and people skim testimonials like you wouldn't believe. Long passages of testimonials can kill conversion on a promotion.

      If you've got really good testimonials that just HAVE to be used, then my tip would be to work them in to the narrative of your promotion rather than just blockquoting them. It engages people in the testimonial and is much more effective.
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      • Profile picture of the author mrdomains
        Who else wants ..?

        ..has got to be the most boring and uninspired line of them all. Never used it myself. Never will.

        Probably works although it feels overused.
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        • Yea I hate "Who else wants?" - as copywriters we see it endlessly.

          But the customers don't - at least not as often as we do.

          I can see why it works - it aligns itself to "Social Proof" (the idea being - lots of people are doing or have done it - so, surely you don't want to miss out...).

          It's explained in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

          If you haven't got it - it's a book well worth buying.

          And you'll be pleased to know - there are 5 other brilliant persuasion techniques fully described in the book.

          Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author ShoTzZ
    I absolutely hate when people post how much you can earn through something but is total BS,

    Get 1,000! Here!
    Get 50,000 BY just Entering Your address!

    ...Same old stuff
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  • Profile picture of the author MoneyMonkey
    Excessive blatant hype urgh.

    Have you been failing in IM
    Need something that works now
    Take action today
    How I made a billion dollars in 1 day.

    You know the stuff and get the picture
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  • Profile picture of the author abugah
    I hate clients who think copy will solve a product weakness.
    Clients who have the audacity to demand copy even before they create the product drive me mad.
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  • Profile picture of the author EricMN
    Client: I'm looking for someone to write this

    Me: Sure thing.

    Client: Awesome! Thanks so much.

    Me: Look forward to working with you.

    Client: I can't wait.


    ~*POOF*

    Me: Hello?. . . -_-
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  • Profile picture of the author The Devil
    I agree with the OP. I hate when flash words like "unique," "one of a kind," etc., are used but never backed up.
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