From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Creating Urgency

Dear Pat,

I’m just now finishing the final assignment for the copywriting program, and I have a couple of questions:

First, in the section called “A Jump Start On Your Product Research,” they list a green super food called Hydra-Green, and they give a list of attributes for it. However, Hydra-Green doesn’t appear on the product label for the men’s supplement. Obviously, I can’t talk about its benefits if it’s not really in the product. Can you tell me why this appears in the start-up materials if it’s not on the product label? Can we use Hydra-Green in our promotion, or was this put into the start-up materials just to see if we’re paying attention to what’s really in the product?

Second, in the section on the Four-Legged Stool, they talk about establishing credibility for the company behind the product or service. They list six factors for establishing that credibility: Size, Years in Business, Reputation, Position in Industry, Customer Service Record, Awards, Testimonials.

I’ve reviewed the start-up materials, and there is very little information about the company. So here’s the question: Can I make up or invent things about the company (such as Awards and Position in Industry)? Or do I have to write my promotion using only the material about the company that’s in the start-up materials?

Jeff A.

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the questions.

No, that information about Hydra-Green wasn’t put there just to see if you were paying attention (though it certainly appears that you are). This assignment is for a fictitious vitamin product. And your promotion won’t be mailed to any real prospects. So – while your instincts are very good (you never want to be dishonest in your copy) – you don’t have to worry about whether or not it appears on the label. If you would like to tout the benefits of this ingredient in your copy, go right ahead.

I have pretty much the same answer for your second question. Good instincts. You want to be completely honest when writing a promo for a real product and company. And they will almost always have something that you can use to establish credibility. But in this case, you can make up that information. Just do yourself a favor and keep it believable. Imitate a genuine paying assignment as much as possible. It will be good practice for the real thing.

Hi Pat,

I need some help! I have not finished the copywriting program yet, but I have a sales letter I am working on for a client. I think it is pretty good, but I would like a professional opinion. They have not given me much to use as a special deal for acting immediately, so I know I am lacking in urgency. Do you have a hint or two?

Barbara K.

Hello Barbara,

Not to worry. Urgency doesn’t have to come in the form of a special discount or a bonus for acting now. There are other ways to do it. For instance, let’s say you are writing about a health product. And this health product is meant to replace all the partially hydrogenated oils in your diet.

Your urgency could be constructed entirely on the information that partially hydrogenated oils are so unhealthy that no one should consume any amount of them – and this is where your good research comes into play. You might find that you can say something like this: Every time you consume any amount of partially hydrogenated oils, XXX happens to your body. Those damaging effects compound over time … and it takes XXX amount of time for your body to reverse them. Anyone who gives a damn about their health should find an alternative to this poison immediately.

If you do a good job of constructing your promotion, the prospect will be compelled to buy without any special offer. (Although it never hurts to have one.) Make your prospect see that he really needs the product you are selling. And that he is worse off every day that he doesn’t use it.

That’s it for this week. Thanks to one and all – and keep those emails coming!


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Published: May 29, 2006

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