Here we stand … the possibilities of email messaging in one hand, the nature
of memory in the other. So the critical question is this: How relevant are your
short-term messages? Better still, how relevant are the messages you want your
customers to remember over the long haul? How can you make sure your prospect is
going to remember you the morning after?
Electrical memory is of limited capacity. If you try to add an item to it,
the new item pushes out a previous, less-relevant one. Imagine aiming a fire
hose at a teacup. ALL the information coming at you - TV, Radio,
Web pages, Newspapers, Emails, Billboards, Direct mail, Fliers, Music, plus what
your kid swapper her peanut butter and jelly sandwich for at school - is the
water consistently and vigorously trained on the teacup (a.k.a. your brain, or
more specifically, your electrical memory). Some of the water stays in the
teacup; the rest spills out. Relevance determines which "water drops" stay in -
you store in electrical memory only that information that’s important to you at
a certain moment in time.
Once you get a message to stay inside the teacup, the human computer works on
transferring it from electrical to chemical memory.
Chemical memory is long-term, stored memory … it's all the things that you
can remember. It's like your computer’s hard disk. If you really need to store
your data so you can get it back, you save it to the hard disk before you power
down your computer. Unlike the ephemeral RAM of electrical memory, chemical
memory is the repository of “known information” from the hard drive of the human
Chemical memory, business-wise, is “top of mind awareness”; it is being the
company your customers think of first and feel best about whenever they need
your products or whenever your product category is named. In other words,
Advertisers try to “whip people into action” with the urgency of a
limited-time offer. They can be sure at best, that if their message is
relevant, it will stay in electrical memory only until the expiration date,
after which it will be erased forever from the brain.
When an advertiser focuses effort on limited-time offers, the only thing that
makes it into chemical memory is: “this advertiser makes limited-time offers.”
In essence, the advertiser is training the customer to ask, “When does this go
on sale?” Surely you're in business for something grander than that!
Three things can be done to increase the transfer of a message from
electrical memory to chemical memory:
· Increase the relevancy of the message
· Increase the frequency of its repetition
· Increase the relevancy of the message and the
frequency of its repetition
Branding is accomplished only when you have a relevant message that is
repeated with enough frequency to become securely stored in chemical memory.
Buy-now messages are immediate, direct response-type messages by nature,
while build-identity messages are aimed at meeting deeper, more long-term goals.
And it is possible for your communications to do both. You can convey, in the
same communication, a powerful, long-term branding message accompanied by one or
more short-term, direct response messages. Putting all your eggs in the
Short-Term Message Basket will lead you nowhere. Without strong, long-term,
brand-building messages integrated into your communications, you are harming
your chances for long-term success.
Remember, some of the people receiving your messages don’t need what you sell
right now. What are you saying to them? How are you making them feel? Who will
they buy from when their need arises?
Wordbiz just published a Case Study about
one of Grokdotcom's readers. Check out Future Now's
CIO, Bryan Eisenberg on BEFORE and AFTER home page copy that engages and converts visitors.
Enjoy the article.
The Power of Being More Personal Online
He's baaaaack! It just won't do for us to go saying
copywriting online is different… you gotta see the difference in action. You need concrete examples. You
need comparisons. You need an angle. And you know we wouldn't dream of leaving
you in the lurch. So join me - here, I've saved you a seat - while Nick Usborne
graciously picks up where he left off last time in our mission to help you make
your online copy high-impact.
In my last article I talked about some of the underlying reasons why
copywriting online is different from copywriting for broadcast, print, direct
mail and other offline media. I described online audiences as being quite
different - because people online are connected, vocal and active within the
You can’t write ‘at’ people online. Instead, you have to connect ‘with’ them.
This shift in approach makes many demands on an online copywriter.
First, if you want to connect with people online, and be genuine about it,
you have to ‘know’ those people a lot better than you do when you write a
billboard or print ad. You have to dig deep to find out about the people with
whom you want to connect.
How do you get to know them? Listen in to your customer service calls. Read
customer service emails and online chat. Lurk in related newsgroups. Study the
logs of your site. In short, take the time to find out what makes your audience
tick. What’s important to them? How do they write? What terms and phrases do
Once you have done that - once you have a close sense of the people to whom
you are writing - you’ll be in a better position to write copy that truly
connects with what’s important to them.
Here’s a simple starting point when you put pen to paper or keyboard to
Make it personal.
Copywriting offline is largely impersonal. But online, everything is
personal. So you need to change your language.
As an example, here’s what Apple are saying on their homepage about the iMac
“Four years ago we introduced the first iMac. It changed the way people use
computers. It changed the way people look at technology. Some people even said
it changed the world. Now, six million iMacs later, we’re doing it again.”
And here is what a couple of people said about the iMac in their reviews at
“My husband had never before turned on a computer, he has within 3 short
months come farther than most, because of the ease of use of the Apple
architecture. These machines are designed to be user friendly... no endless
hours trying to figure out what a .dll file is anyway!”
“I have hated all things Apple for so long, and so very vocally, that it
literally pains me to admit that I like the iMac. Okay, fine, I love the damn
thing, stupid circular one-button mouse and all. I have even willingly stood
silent as my longtime Mac-loving friends grasped hands to dance the Hubris
Horah around me.”
Apple’s copy is inward-looking and self-serving. “Some people even said it
changed the world.” Really? Well, maybe Steve Jobs and his family think so.
The Apple copy has a very typical, offline feel to it.
But what if we were to learn a little from what those two people at epinions
wrote? Maybe we could come up with something a little more real; something that
actually connects with regular buyers.
“We admit it. The new G4 iMac looks a little strange. A little like a big
shaving mirror with a fat stand. But we think you’ll like it! That flat screen
gives a beautiful, bright, distortion-free image. And the G4 processor is
going to blast you right up into multimedia Heaven.”
We could work on that a little more. But you get the general idea. Say
good-bye to that self-serving, Madison Avenue ‘ad copy’. And say hello to a more
personal style that is in tune with what your customers are saying and feeling.
The same goes for your emails.
Here’s a welcome email from Snapnames.com:
“Dear Nick Usborne,
Welcome to SnapNames, helping to secure your domain.
To make changes or additions to your account please use the following
username and password.”
They put my name there - but they didn’t manage to make their welcome
Here’s a welcome from Customatix.com. No name, but a lot more personal and
“Well, you've done it now. By opening a Customatix account, you've just
changed the way you're going to buy athletic shoes forever. Be careful. The
surgeon general reports that designing your own cool athletic shoes can be
Do you have to be that casual? No, but you do have to make an effort to write
in a way that better makes a personal connection.
Copywriting online IS different. You need to get to know your audience better
- and you need to write to people in a way that is a whole lot more engaging and
Developing relationships. Connecting with folks. It's what the Internet has
always done best, and you can turn it to your advantage if you take the time to
understand what your copy needs to do so you can create copy that earns its
Reaching for that high-impact brass ring? Then take my Number One Tip and
grab yourself a copy of Nick's book,
Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy so you can check out his top ten
online copywriting tips (plus all the other great things he has to share).