The whole idea behind selling is to help your customer create
a vivid image in their mind in which theyíre enjoying
the benefits of your product or service. Itís that
image that creates, in turn, a compelling desire to buy
your product or service. The key is to involve them
in the process by using active voice, compelling verbs,
powerful nouns, and evocative adjectives and adverbs. Yes,
you make it happen not with pictures but with words.
Mark Twain appreciated the power of words: ďA powerful
agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of
these intensely right words in a book or a newspaper the
resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual and
electrically prompt.Ē With the right copy, you can
sell just about anything.
gotten lost in a book or a magazine article, haven't you?
One where the author paints a picture of the setting so
evocative that all your senses have been engaged in your
imagination? Between the power of the word and your own
naturally creative mind, you can easily find yourself in
Charles Dickensí grimy London, Frank McCourt's
impoverished Ireland, Herman Melville's tense shipboard
world, Amy Tanís Chinese enclaves, or John LeCarreís
in advertising and in direct mail have long since proven
the evocative power of words and they've harnessed it to
incredible effect, selling every imaginable kind of stuff
thatís touchy-feely-tasty (I guess saying ďsmellyĒ
right here might not work the way I intend - and there you
have it: the power of words!). Words sell perfume, gourmet
food, wine, travel, music, clothing, even art. The list is
literally endless. And youíve experienced it yourself
if youíve ever been influenced even once by ad or
catalog copy youíve read or heard.
Peterman Company has one of the most wildly successful
catalogs on record. Why? Because the text is so rich
everyone loves to read it. The company continues in the
same spirit on their website:
Collection. A record of my discoveries. A fabric I
couldn't put down, a hat I absconded, an irresistible
aftershave, numerous things that somehow ended up in
my trunk, my office, my farmhouse, everywhere. Things
I wore. Wore again. Kept finding more reasons to wear.
A collection of signature items - things I think
you'll agree are distinctive in a world overcrowded
with the mundane. Things worthy of the signature.
want some of that Signature stuff? You bet! Cachet,
lived-in comfort, distinction. They've got me hooked even
before I look at a specific item.
hungry for a fruit you just can't find in the local
produce section? After you read this, I'll bet you don't
have to taste or smell sapotes first before deciding you
want to buy some:
Sapotes (Sa-PO-tays). Somewhere between a banana and a
papaya - and known to only a few. Scarce and
delicious, this dreamy tropical variety seduces
fruit-lovers with its creamy, custard-like texture and
subtle tropical flavor. Grown in limited quantities
and hard to find at markets because they have to be
painstakingly pollinated by hand. Delicious in a mixed
fruit cup or sorbet, or sliced over ice cream.
about this for cologne?
the enchantment and mystery that is a man! From the
Mediterranean coast comes a collection that is
stirring and decidedly masculine. Heady with overtones
of citrus, bergamot and cedar itís warmed by the
sensual notes of rum. Trailing into the woody, amber
aroma of Haitian vetiver, a grass grown in warm
climates and prized for its fragrant root, it lingers
with spicy underlays of nutmeg, clove, jasmine and
mimosa. Close your eyes and imagine ships returning to
port, skin gilded by sun, hair sifted by wind, and the
complexity of a spirit that cannot be understood until
it is experienced!
copy not only offers descriptions, but makes connections,
creates images, draws on experience (either actual or
imagined) and, as we said at the beginning, involves
the reader. Most important, good copy unifies the product
with your prospectís perceived need by exciting their emotions.
And we all should know by now that buying decisions may be
rationalized with facts but ultimately are based on
emotions. Want to sell something you think has to be seen,
tasted, smelled or touched to be believed? Get yourself a
good copywriter. That person can convey the experience
of the most sumptuous cashmere coat in words that wonít
just equal an actual touch, but by evoking images and
emotions, will surpass it by far.
on the web is not just about the images people see; itís
also, and perhaps even more so, about the images that
exceptional copy creates in your customersí minds. Donít
assume you canít sell it on the web. You can. All
you need to do is find the copywriter who will make
Would You Trust This Face?
ice cream, trust comes in lots of flavors. Sometimes it's
about privacy. Sometimes it's about reliability over the
long haul. And then there is trust that is based on the
feelings of security inspired by the simplicity of the
site and the availability of user support.
know what it comes down to for lots of folks out there?
Sim D'Hertefelt, author of an interesting study on trust,
states, "The feeling of security experienced by a
user of an interactive system is determined by the user's
feeling of control of the interactive system."1 Or,
in Grok-talk, they feel secure because the process is
take my word for it. Read what regular consumers have to
say about their feelings of comfort and trust when online
purchasing is a positive experience:
tells me what to do and it's clear even though I am
not familiar with computers. I feel confident that
I'll get what I want and that nothing strange will
happen. I don't mind giving my credit card number in
feel secure about giving my credit card number because
it's simple. I trust it because you see what you get.
There is nothing hidden or obscure."
here you thought security was all about technical issues
such as 128-bit encryption, secure transactions,
authentication, digital certificates and secure socket
layers. Sure, they matter, although we still don't know
how these things contribute to feelings of trust (128-bit
encryption is only good for the duration of time it can't
be hacked Ö and what sort of untrustworthy environment
is it that requires 128-bit encryption anyway? Ö you can
see how these things might work against trust).
for the customer, this stuff doesn't seem to be the
crucial issue. What they most want is to feel in control
of the online process. If they feel in control, get what
they want and are fulfilled, they are more likely to
conclude with feelings of trust and security. Just what
you want them to feel.
think about designing for trust. Put your user in control.
D'Hertefelt has these suggestions:
sure your interactive system is comprehensible.
The client needs to know what can be accomplished, how
to accomplish it, and confirmation that it actually
has been accomplished.
system must be predictable. Will your customer
know, with a reasonable level of certainty, what is
going to happen when she or he clicks on something? In
a medium lacking strong interaction design standards,
this is a challenge, but look at what is successful.
Windows works because every time a drop-down menu
appears, it behaves the same way, consistently and for
music to my ears, D'Hertefelt says the system must be flexible
and adaptable. "Not all users will execute
a task in the same way. A user will feel in control of
an interactive system if (s)he can choose the way a
task is executed instead of having to figure out how
the system requires it to be done." Sound at all
familiar? It should by now!
Sure, trust has lots of components. But it's cool to learn you can improve trust a whole lot just by simplifying your design and process. The math is simple: cleaner design + clearer process = increased trust = increased purchases. And isn't increased purchases what you're after?
"Trust and the perception of security." Sim
D'Hertefelt, InteractionArchitect.com, 3 January 2000.
We've been touting the broad-spectrum value of usability,
but this little study discovered usability's association
with feelings of trust and security through a task and
content analysis job. The findings are limited, but very
thought-provoking. All quotations are from this article.