Marketing, Business and Sales Writing, and Web Design for Software Tech and B2B Businesses.

Copywriting – It’s All About Avoiding “So What?”


“So What?”

It’s the most toxic phrase that you can hear a prospect say about your marketing effort.

It means that not only didn’t you reach your prospect, but he doesn’t even care what you said. He’s not even offended or irritated.

And your spending on your direct mail piece, or your AdWords campaign, just sailed on by with no effect… except more ineffectively spent dollars leaking from your company checking account.

“So What” Is the Norm. You Have to Beat the Norm.

The easiest reaction to get to an ad or an offer is no reaction.

Think about how you respond when you receive a letter in the mail that wants you to subscribe to something, buy something, or do something.

When you look skeptically at the junk mail envelope that just arrived, you’re thinking “so what?” How does this help me? How does this make my life better? Who cares what this company does unless it helps me?

When you deliver a marketing message to one of your own prospects, the tables are turned.

The reader of your promotion is looking for reasons to turn you off and get you out of their hair.

Your job when presenting a marketing message is to avoid your prospect’s reflex to get rid of you.

  • When your prospect glances at the headline of your sales letter, he will think So what? If he doesn’t think your headline relates to him, that letter goes in the trash, unread.
  • When you make product claims, your prospect thinks So what?  Your claims had better be important to him.
  • When you cite product benefits, your prospect will think So what? The benefits had better be meaningful, or else it’s one more letter for the landfill.
  • When your sales copy lapses into self congratulation, too many details, or just becomes something not to your customer’s liking, he’ll think So What? … and then you’ve lost that buyer – probably for good.

If you can do all of this well enough for a visitor to read your piece, you might have a sales situation in hand.

How Can You Avoid “So What”?

The copywriter you employ to help you market your stuff plays a critical role in punching through visitor boredom and reader ennui. The best writers will have many techniques up their sleeves, including these.

  • By providing a key value statement. You need to state clearly, quickly and convincingly what you sell that will make your customer’s life better. This overcomes the “so what” objection with your most likely buyers.
  • By being clear and descriptive. Some very smart IT vendors do very dumb (but easily avoided) things to bury their key value statements. Often, the headlines appearing on web sites or materials for some very good IT products should be thrown out – the real headline is buried in a sentence inside the body copy.
  • By showing key advantages of your offering compared to competitors.
  • By being written with knowledge of your audience and customers. The culture, preferences, standard practices, industry setting, and many other aspects should inform the copy.
  • By communicating the “what’s in it for me” message clearly. Just as we discussed above, your marketing copy needs to prevent the reader from concluding too early that your product is not of interest to them.
  • By being tailored to the publishing medium.  An effective direct sales letter will have a much different structure and appearance than a web site landing page. A product or service brochure will be far different in content and format than a marketing email.
  • By focusing on the customer’s needs and on them as people or as businesses.  People and businesses just care about themselves. Cater to that tendency by making the message about the advantages that your reader will gain, and not about your business.
  • By avoiding information overload.  The tendency of many professions (as an engineer myself, I’ll say that engineers are guilty of this often)  to over-complicate writing and content is clear. Too much detail too early tires out readers – particularly in marketing copy.
  • By being easy to read with clear, simple sentence structure and use of common words. In 2003 the US Department of Education conducted a study of adult reading proficiency – and concluded that the “average” American reads at a 7th or 8th grade level. I have encountered some resistance to this finding among some clients who believe that writing to a “low” grade level is a put down of their customers or will insult them somehow. This isn’t true. An intelligent, professional reader will be impatient for you to get to the point concisely and with easy to read copy and will appreciate the honesty that clear, simple copy projects.

I Can Help You Avoid “So What” Reactions. Let’s Get Started.

I enjoy contacts from business owners and managers who value the bottom line. I want to prove how you can profit from high quality marketing copy.  Please email, contact using this form, or call.

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