There are quite a few articles around on “The Seven Deadly Sins of Copywriting”. But if you look at them, you will see that not many of them seem to be about the REAL Seven Deadly Sins! These are Pride, Avarice, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Anger, Sloth.
Why were these particular sins chosen centuries ago as the “deadly” sins? Because they were unforgivable! They are as unforgivable in copywriting as they are in any other sphere of life. But remember this – that as long as you avoid them in your copywriting, you can actually harness their power to help you sell your products!
· Pride. Who do you think YOU are? What makes you think the reader is interested in YOU? When I visit your site, I am interested in ME and MY needs. So nothing will put me off more quickly than you rambling on about yourself! Forget “I – I – I” in your copy and focus on “You -You -You”. You must convince your readers that you are interested in THEM and THEIR needs, if you want to keep them reading.
· Avarice. Don’t look greedy and as if you are only out for the money (even if you are …). The first rule of copywriting is to focus on the BENEFITS to the buyer of your product or service. Your aim is to make the reader so excited about the benefits that your price will seem like a bargain.
· Lust. Don’t appear desperate for the sale! Some of the most effective sales letters are those in which the writer seems indifferent and points out that he/she doesn’t need the paltry amount that is being asked for the product, but that YOU will be the loser if you don’t buy it.
· Envy. Don’t try to copy other people. You may have noticed someone else who is fantastically successful and think “If I write just like that, I’ll be just as successful.” Almost certainly not true. That person will have worked hard on developing his or her individual style. You need to develop your own individual style and personality to make your mark as a copywriter. (This doesn’t mean you can’t glean ideas from other people: of course you can. Just don’t copy them!)
· Gluttony. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Making extravagant promises in order to gain a sale, and then finding you can’t deliver, will ruin your business reputation as nothing else can.
· Anger. A very deadly sin. DON’T badmouth competitors and DON’T use bad language. I recently received an extraordinary series of promotional e-mails from a self-styled Internet Guru (whose stock-in-trade was being rude to his readers), slamming a couple of fellow Internet marketers who he thought were competing unfairly. He used such bad language, including several 4-letter words, that I promptly removed myself from his list, as I am sure many others did.
· Sloth. Possibly the deadliest sin of all. Few things about sales copy are more of a turn-off than careless spelling, grammar and presentation. If you are too lazy to use the spellcheck, or to proofread your work, you will appear sloppy and unprofessional to your readers. Do you think that will help you sell whatever you are selling? I don’t think so. Especially if you are trying to sell your services as a copywriter! The same thing applies if your headlines and body copy are full of cliches and stock phrases because you are too lazy to think of anything original to say!
So – you are purer than pure. Your copywriting is free from all these deadly sins. The good news for you is that the rest of society is not! So you can make the seven deadly sins WORK for you to help you sell your product!
One of the most basic lessons in copywriting is that people buy things because they are driven by desires and emotions, not by logic. So you have to write your copy to tap into these desires and emotions. But where do these desires and emotions come from? From the seven deadly sins, of course!
Why do people buy Maserati cars or Cartier watches? Why do they buy dream homes, jewelry or other luxury items? Not because they need them. Basically because of Envy and Pride! They envy those who already have them, or they want everyone else to envy THEM. One of the best selling books of all time was The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches. Why? Because it appealed to people’s Avarice and Sloth at the same time. Lust ensures that you can’t go far wrong with a dating site or products designed to help people attract the opposite sex.
And we all know about the problems Gluttony has created in our society. Obesity is a ticking health time-bomb, and there is an insatiable market for weight-loss products. But what is the most sure-fire way to sell one of these products? By convincing people that it will enable them to lose weight while still eating as much as they want!
Yes, it’s highly regrettable. But the fact is that to make your copy work, you have to appeal to people’s basic desires. So always keep those seven deadly sins in mind. Just make sure you avoid them yourself!