Here’s why to read this right now…
Your prospects are as distracted now as they’ve ever been.
We have digital ADHD.
We have endless distractions fighting for our attention.
We’ve got enough stimulation to drive our lizard brains wild — only a click away.
Your next sale was lost because your prospect opened another tab…
They were into your pitch. They dug it. They were ready to respond. And then something else happened, and they opened another tab.
Then, they forgot.
The emotional wind went out of their sails.
And even though your pitch is still sitting there in 1 of 50 tabs… They’re just not into it.
This is why direct mail isn’t dead. This is why direct mail — in many markets — is still a highly-effective medium. Sure, the list universe shrunk with the rise of the internet. But with direct mail, people have to actually throw it away — they can’t just click and forget.
How do you battle this war against attention attrition?
But not fake urgency.
Not, “Supplies are going fast.”
Not, “Please respond within the next 24 hours.”
Not, “Get it before it’s gone.”
Not even — and I’ll admit I’ve used this as a crutch too much — bigger market forces that suggest an action is needed.
You have to get crystal-clear with WHY a prospect must respond NOW…
This is part of why I like selling physical products. Because people can actually imagine a situation where there are literally a specific number of the products sitting on your shelf. And they don’t want to miss out, so they reply.
It’s also a good reason to tie a sale to any specific date on the calendar. And it almost doesn’t matter what date — as long as you make it relevant. And as long as you don’t offer the same deal after that date.
Limited time and limited quantity are very effective ways to up the urgency.
What if you can’t use traditional urgency enhancers?
This is a struggle in financial copywriting, especially when you’re doing an acquisition promo that’s supposed to just run as long as it works.
You can’t tell someone there’s a limited number of copies of a newsletter. You can’t typically work a date into a promo that’s supposed to run for who-knows-how-long.
You have to find other factors that suggest urgency.
For example, if you’re teasing a stock, you can look at company-specific events that might move the stock higher.
If you’re looking at a market move, what events are going on in society or the markets that will cause big fluctuations in price?
You have to dig — and sometimes get creative.
For example, if you have a specific technology stock, you may have to look for industry surveys that show how companies are increasing investment in the tech.
Or maybe there’s a government approval of the new technology. Or, using an example from biotech, maybe there’s a novel treatment in the approval pipeline.
I once wrote a promo about fast profit opportunities in takeovers of small gold stocks. And in the pitch, I did such a good job of positioning my expert as uncannily accurate at picking mining stock takeovers right before they happened, that the urgency was automatic. But it was doubly-powerful when one of the stocks ACTUALLY got taken over when the promo was in final edits, so we tweaked the promo to say what happened, showing the opportunities whizzing by.
You can’t overdo LEGITIMATE urgency…
Let me throw in a caveat here. If you make up urgency factors just to try to generate response, it will typically fall flat.
Yeah, you can get away with it a little bit. Especially if you’re vague.
But the more real the urgency factors are, the more credible and believable they will be.
And it’s credibility and believability that will drive response.
When you have that, you can’t do too much. If you have three immensely believable (because they are truthful) reasons to act fast, state them clearly and concisely. If you’ve got one but it’s really important, say it.
Even better, dramatize it. Show it.
I once posted a picture of a box of my books, that had just arrived from the printer. I explained how I had just sold out of the last box. I don’t even think I pushed hard in terms of expressing the urgency in words. But when you see a box of a physical product, it’s clear there’s a limited quantity.
I’ve also heard of companies posting pictures of a truck of merchandise that’s shown up. Or the last stack of a product being liquidated. Or… WHATEVER IS REAL FOR YOU.
If it feels real and is at least somewhat urgent, it will feel urgent. And that will drive response.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS: I also think the readability score of copy that works is dropping, too. I don’t have quantitative evidence of this yet. But I’m noticing the language in the big promos today seems simpler than it was even a year ago. This speaks to the attention issue. It’s something I’ve fought, but am now turning to embrace. The old rule was grade 7.5. The Hemingway app website says this essay was written so a 5th grader can understand.
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