One of the earliest things you learn as a copywriter is to tell the prospect everything they get, all the features, all the ways they benefit, what a product is, and so on…
In general, when it comes time to sell a product, you want your prospect to be well-educated about what they’re getting. And so this makes sense.
You DO want to tell them all about the product (or service, experience, etc.).
You DO want to tell them what it includes.
You DO want to share the benefits.
You DO want to tell them all these things!
And yet, there can also be some very important contexts where a pro copywriter will go negative in order to do a better job making the sale.
This is a huge distinction between novice and pro marketing copy!
Pro copywriters — like pro salespeople — know about the power of the negative.
Not just qualifying a customer, but disqualifying anyone who shouldn’t be a customer.
Not just laying out what the product is, but making it clear what it isn’t.
Not just offering a ton of value, but drawing a clear distinction about what is not included.
The gut reaction of the novice copywriter or salesperson is that these will somehow reduce the number of sales. When often, the end result is quite the opposite. Often, being clear about who is not qualified, what the product isn’t, or what’s not included only makes the product more desirable.
And even if it doesn’t increase sales, being clear about NOT will make sure that the customers who come through are the type and quality you want, and they have a clear understanding of what they’re getting.
Here are 3 ways to use NOT in your marketing, including when and why you might want to do so.
What it’s NOT.
In a crowded, mature market, your prospect has seen a lot of promises, and a lot of offers. They’ve probably bought quite a few, and been disappointed with some.
Think about the weight loss market — one of the most crowded, mature, and sophisticated markets there is. There have been 1,000,001 different diet plans. Many prospects have tried dozens. I think the average weight loss customer tries 3 new diets a year.
They won’t buy your plan if it’s something they think they’ve tried before. They don’t want to try the same thing over and over again. They want something new.
(None of this is healthy, by the way, but that’s a topic for another day — there’s a reason I don’t do this market.)
If you want your prospect to try your new offer, you have to make it clear that it’s different than the last 10 things they tried. And so you list them off…
— This is not low-carb.
— It’s not low-fat.
— It’s not counting calories.
— It’s not counting points.
— You do not have to give up dessert.
… And so on.
The more you can make it clear what it’s NOT, the more you knock down the objection of “I’ve tried that already (and it didn’t work for me).”
Who this is NOT for.
I like this one. Especially if you’re targeting something to a higher-level segment of your market.
By saying who a product is NOT for, you’re reinforcing the “this is for me” reaction of the people who it is targeted towards — without hitting them over the head with that.
For example, you can sell investing advice that NOT for you unless you have at least a $500,000 portfolio.
You could sell business and marketing advice that’s NOT for startups or anyone who hasn’t figured out how to sell their product for a profit yet.
In the promotion for the Titans of Direct Response event, I wrote…
Before we go any further, I have to warn you: This event is NOT created for “beginners” or “opportunity seekers.” If you’re looking for the best place to start a direct response career, this is NOT it. While you’re still free to attend, your investment will best be spent elsewhere.
I know people who tie their marketing services to a minimum revenue amount, advertising spend, or list size.
Facebook’s first growth was as a social website for students only — you could not get in if you didn’t have an .edu email address.
Curves grew as a gym for women — not for men.
What you do NOT get.
This is really interesting, and I think especially relevant if you’re selling services.
Limiting the scope of the services can establish you as more of a professional than simply being a yes-man or yes-woman who is willing to add on anything the client asks.
For example, your project may include the first and second revisions at no cost, but not the third or beyond — those are extra.
Your contract may include one weekly phone appointment, but not free access via the phone, any time your client wants.
Also, I think this is useful in the context of a performance-based guarantee…
For example, you guarantee that if they follow your advice, that they’re going to get a very specific result, at a minimum. But they have to produce evidence that they followed your advice, because you can not guarantee it unless they implemented it as suggested.
How will you use NOT in your marketing and selling messages?
As you can see, these are 3 big ways you can incorporate NOT to strengthen the power of your marketing.
There are no doubt many more variations on these that have been used and can be used.
Now that you know it’s advantageous to use it — it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to use NOT more going forward.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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