2 Words Never to Use in a Promotion

You've decided to buy a late-model used car, so you go to a well-respected dealership. A salesman approaches you, and starts extolling the virtues of the very car you were thinking of buying. You're ready to buy it on the spot … when he says the magic words.

"Trust me," he says, "this car will …"

"Trust me." These two words – or variations like "You can believe me when I say" – immediately warn your prospect that something's wrong.

You develop trust in your prospect by building a relationship with him … not by simply telling him to trust you. And you build that relationship by using 5 specific, easy-to-implement strategies for establishing your credibility.

  1. Avoid hype.

    Hype might work in infomercials – but that's not the medium you're working in. They can yell things like "The World's Greatest Toothpaste!" and get away with it, because they're visually distracting you at the same time.

    But this type of language does nothing to make your prospect believe you. When he reads words like these, he feels he is being sold to.

    You become a salesman in his eyes. His sales resistance rises. And you have lost any chance of establishing a personal, trusting relationship.

    One more thing about using hype: It's a dead giveaway that you're a new copywriter who hasn't done enough research to be able to speak in a calm, authoritative tone.

  2. Avoid vague or unsubstantiated claims.

    If using hype is a signal that you haven't done your research, making specific, substantiated claims is the signal that you have. This powerful strategy almost instantly establishes your credibility.

    Instead of hollering "The World's Greatest Toothpaste," you describe how Thompson's Toothpaste has been proven to increase brightness by 76%. And that the ingredient polychlorphenol – proven safe in 17 clinical tests – kills 98% of gum-disease-causing bacteria.

    These specific details steadily build your prospect's trust in you and – by extension – in your product.

  3. Give your prospect a reason to believe.

    "Thompson's Toothpaste has been shown to effectively prevent decay …" Coupled with the seal of the American Dental Association, this type of endorsement from an authoritative body or individual gives your prospect a reason to believe what you're saying.

    So does giving the product's track record. "Thompson's has been the top-selling toothpaste for 18 years because of its proven ability to whiten teeth while killing bacteria."

    You can extend this by touting the record of your product's developer. "Dr. Tom Thompson, DDS, has been the official White House dentist for 20 years" adds even more credibility to the product.

  4. Speak to him as an equal.

    Nobody wants to listen to someone who comes across as a know-it-all.

    You MUST let your prospect know that you don't feel you are better than him … and you do this by adopting a realistic, friendly, conversational tone.

    That doesn't mean you can't know more than your prospect. In fact, if you want your prospect to believe you, you have to establish a sense of authority. But knowing more about your specialized topic doesn't make you better or smarter. Just more knowledgeable.

    Use AWAI's "bar stool test." Talk to your prospect as if he were sitting next to you at the bar, drinking a beer. Tell him your exciting story. Don't preach to him.

  5. Respect your prospect and his needs.

    This strategy is at the core of building trust … and having a strong, successful promotion. If you want your prospect to trust you, you have to respect him.

    When you truly respect your prospect, you can't help but speak to him as an equal. And you wouldn't try to bamboozle him with vague claims or hyped-up language.

    You have to sincerely care about your prospect, about his needs, his hopes, his fears, and his problems. This comes from taking the time to develop a rich 3-dimensional picture of him.

    We don't have space here to discuss how you do that. But this crucial step in writing successful promotions is discussed in detail in AWAI's Master Program, and will be a key topic at our upcoming FastTrack Bootcamp.

If you follow these 5 strategies, your prospect will believe and trust you … without you ever having to use the trust-killing words "trust me."

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 25, 2007

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