Why "Hypey" Copy Doesn't Work

I like copy that takes a subtle approach, with ads that tell a story and build a relationship.

At last year’s AWAI Bootcamp, I learned I’m not alone. In fact, I’m just like 85 percent of the buying market.

Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero of Red Hot Copy is an expert in reaching 85 percent of the buying market with copy. She spoke at last year’s Bootcamp, and today I’d like to share some of the remarkable things I learned from her.

First, you might be wondering what she means by “85 percent of the buying market.” Well, that 85 percent is women.

Did you know American women spend $5–$7 trillion dollars every year? Or how about this: women open 70 percent of new businesses, and 20 percent of new home sales are driven by single women.

These facts were startling to me, but impressive. I’m considering reframing my niche to focus on this huge sector.

If you’d like to do the same, I’m going to share five ways you can adjust your copy to make it appeal to women. Lorrie calls this “feminizing your copy.” She points out that by feminizing it, you’re also depolarizing it.

From 1925 through 1942, ads were written for men. Women didn’t have as much buying power, so the advertisers appealed to the men. Over time, copywriters modeled what worked in the past, so a lot of our copy is still directed toward men. As a result, much of it turns women off.

But with women now making up 85 percent of the buying market, it only makes sense to change things up a bit and appeal to women.

Here are five ways to depolarize your copy. These techniques work with women and men. The reverse is not true. Aggressive, over-the-top hype won’t work with women.

1. Replace emotionally aggressive language.

In masculine copy, you’ll find words like “massacre” and “crush the competition.” But men and women respond differently to marketing language. Women respond to more emotionally bonding language such as uplifting phrases like “It’s not your fault” or “You can do it!”

Keep in mind, bonding doesn’t mean your copy should be boring. Use action words to grab attention, but not in an aggressive way. Instead, you should relate to your prospect.

For an example of this, check out Lorrie’s article “5 Critical Trends for Marketing to Women in 2011,” which is still relevant today.

2. Build rapport.

Masculine copy gets to the point fast. It has a single action and focus. It says, “Let’s cut to the chase.” But women like to hang out and chat. Just compare how long a woman will talk on the phone versus a man.

A woman wants to build a relationship and feel like she knows the person behind the product or service she’s buying. To build rapport, you want to address the problem, relate to the reader, and then solve the problem.

3. Make your copy or ad look good.

Men don’t mind if online copy mimics offline direct-response copy. Men think the content is important. But women want content, and they want it to look good.

Taking the time to make your copy look good tells a women reader that you are going to be a better person to do business with in the long run.

To learn more about design, check out this article for three core secrets of direct-marketing graphic design.

4. Talk about your values.

Values aren’t necessarily a factor in making a buying choice for men. But for women, the values of whom she does business with are very important to her decision making. If your company supports a charity or offers discounts to certain groups, be sure to say so. Values resonate with women, so talk about them.

5. Tell a story.

Lorrie says, “In masculine copy, stories work but aren’t critical. With women, though, they’re required.” A woman needs a story to bond with you and build the rapport she needs to buy your product or service.

You have to connect with women before you can sell to them.

No matter what kind of writer you are, understanding that men and women make decisions differently will make you better. You’ll be able to better connect with your audience, and your writing will be richer.

What tips do you have for depolarizing – or “feminizing” – your copy? Share them below.

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Published: July 25, 2012

6 Responses to “Why "Hypey" Copy Doesn't Work”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article. I really enjoyed reading it.

    In general, men and women are different. We are different not just biologically but also pyschologically.

    Women tend to be more emotional and feelings are important to women.

    When a man communicates, the communication tends to be directed at identifying a problem and finding a solution.

    When a woman wants to communicate, she wants to share her feelings and to be heard by the person she is talking to.

    Women also tend to be better at multi-tasking, whereas men tend to do things one at a time.

    There are other differences as well,but I don't want to write a book here.

    Archan Mehta

  2. Thanks, Christina. I also heard Lorrie speak at Bootcamp last year and was struck by her summary of the economic power of women. This was a great reminder of her tips on writing for women and especially helpful to me for promoting my menopause health coaching services! Margie King, www.HolisticGhost.com

    Margie King

  3. Thank you Christina. Fabulous article. I personally believe values are more important to men than you assume. In fact is one of those "secrets" not talked about enough that will almost instantly either attract or repel. Talk about the values of your ideal client and you will attract. It is all about understanding who you are really talking to.

    Alistair Gray

  4. Excellent article, Christina - thank you.

    I write primarily for the green/sustainability crowd, and I find it interesting (but not surprising)that most of the points you mention as woman-friendly are also valid for that market.

    I believe it's because many of the values embraced by the environmentally conscious tend to be the more traditionally "feminine" ones - caring, nurturing, and connecting to others. Hypey copy certainly doesn't work for a green audience, either - whether women or men.

    Guest (Anne Michelsen)

  5. Thanks for the wake up call Christina. I was falling into that "aggressive, hit 'em between the eyes" approach to copy.

    So thanks for making me aware of my need to "write more like a girl!"

    I can do that pretty easily anyway but hearing it from you drove the point home, or should I say "made me reconsider my position!"


    Guest (Bert Botta)

  6. Great article ... after thinking about it, I'd suggest using the label of "repolarizing" instead of "depolarizing." Since the copy is now more focused toward how women make buying decisions AND they are 85% of the buying market, it seems silly to cater to both men and women. I think we want to keep the polarization and simply change our aim (hence, re).

    Guest (Steven Carleton)

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