Will Your Reader Doubt You?
Famed attorney Vincent Bugliosi is probably best known for prosecuting Charles Manson and writing the book Helter Skelter about his experience on that case.
But he also wrote a book about the O.J. Simpson trial called Outrage.
In it, he slays prosecuting attorneys Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden for the many mistakes they made in prosecuting the case.
Today I'm going to talk about one of those mistakes – and what we as copywriters can learn from it.
It was made by Christopher Darden in his closing summation.
Before I tell you what it is, it's important to set the stage a little.
Bugliosi writes in Outrage that …
" … a lawyer cannot expect a jury to buy his cause if they detect that he does not believe in it completely himself."
While Bugliosi says that there is no question in his mind that both Clark and Darden believed in their case, the problem he says is that they didn't clearly show it to the jury.
In his closing summation, Darden says that in deciding whether Simpson was guilty or not, "whatever you do, the decision is yours, and I'm glad that it is not mine."
Bugliosi points out that Darden is basically telling the jury that it is reasonable for them to have doubts about Simpson's guilt.
Bugliosi says emphatically that a prosecutor "should always convey to the jurors just the opposite, that the evidence of guilt is so clear, obvious, and overwhelming that they shouldn't have any trouble at all reaching a guilty verdict."
(Note that to compound his mistake just prior to his "I'm glad that it is not mine" statement, Darden told the jury that "Nobody wants to do anything to this man." He essentially suggested to the members of the jury that if they decided to let Simpson go free, it would be okay because people "would be relieved, even happy.")
Bugliosi, of course, was right on the money.
What he says is true whether you're a prosecuting attorney trying to convince a jury to buy your closing argument or a copywriter or a salesman trying to convince someone to buy your product.
Imagine you're at Home Depot. You're there to buy a washer/dryer unit. You're looking at a specific model.
The Home Depot representative approaches you and tells you that if he was buying a washer/dryer, it's probably not the one he'd buy and he's glad that it's your decision and not his.
Obviously, your confidence in the unit would plummet and you'd most likely end up buying something else.
So I tend to cringe a little when I see copywriters making a similar mistake to the one above.
Near the end of their letter they write something like …
Still not convinced? Here's another bonus …
By doing this, the writer opens up the door to the possibility that his reader should not be convinced by what he's written so far.
Plus questioning whether the reader is convinced is really an admission by the writer that he hasn't done a very good job writing the sales letter.
Instead of questioning how convinced the reader is, use the introduction of a new bonus as another opportunity to restate a benefit …
In addition to having everything you need to set up your own tax business and start making money immediately, you'll also receive a very special bonus.
See the difference?
Keep this in mind whenever you’re writing copy – whether it’s a sales letter, an email, a landing page, or even a letter to a company about a job you want. Believe in the product or service you’re selling (even if that product is you!), and don’t give your reader a reason to doubt if what you're promoting is right for them.
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