How to Overcome Customer Cynicism

How to Overcome Customer Cynicism

Sick of hype and hard sell? Good news. The Marketing Gurus seem to be catching on. Famed copywriter Clayton Makepeace just wrote an article that confirms what I (and others) have been saying for years: “Everything you think you know about attracting new customers and writing to existing customers is quickly becoming obsolete.” For example:

  • “One-shot customer acquisition promotions are going the way of the dinosaurs.
  • “Bombastic ‘big promise’ or USP headlines don’t work as well.
  • “High-octane sales copy is losing its power.”

Does this mean the outrageous promises, hard sell and hype are finally ending? We can only hope.

It’s good to hear a giant in old-time, hard-sell copywriting finally say what consumers already know. Today’s shoppers — of any age — are more savvy and more cynical than ever. They don’t fall for that old BS anymore. The credibility of media, marketers, corporations and small biz stands near zero when a prospect first catches your scent. That is especially true in email marketing and your website.

Bottom line: They don’t believe what you say. That’s why a good copywriter is so important. It’s up to the copy, the content, your message, to lift your credibility above zero. It’s all about what you say, and how you say it. That’s why, online or off, a good copywriter is worth his weight in gold.

There’s a better way.

Instead of promising the moon, take it slow. Let prospects get to know you first. You don’t propose on the first date, right? So don’t try to close the deal immediately either. In fact, don’t “sell” at all. Not at first. Instead, offer them your help — no strings attached. Give before you ask for anything in return.

Swallow hard and start giving away your secrets. Your best stuff. (Not all of it, of course.) Free information is only appreciated if it’s new and valuable, not more of the same old stuff they’ve heard a hundred times before. Offer them free samples of your product. A free trial period of your service.

Build a new marketing strategy around this concept: stop selling, start giving. Call it “Golden Rule” Marketing. When it’s well executed, it overcomes cynicism, reduces skepticism and raises credibility.

People don’t like to buy from strangers. Unless it’s some kind of emergency, they prefer to get to know, like and trust you first. Guess what? That’s actually better for you, too. Why?

Once you let prospects get familiar with you and your offerings, it is much easier to gently move them along to the next step (touchpoint) in the sales cycle. The more you share, they more they’ll care. That strengthens your relationship, and over the long term it’s much more likely to lead to a long-term relationship, enthusiastic referrals and a booming business.

Need help planning and executing your “Golden Rule” marketing plan? Let’s talk. Want to get to know me better first? Smart move! Sign up for my free newsletter (see form above), follow me on Twitter and/or let’s connect on LinkedIn.

  1. gorclarkgorclark10-03-2009

    Nice post!

    There is a whole culture that believes they should get more and more for free. You can see this with the all the Guru giveaways being offered as incentives to prospects. A bit like the situation found in Egyptian markets, wait until the seller has tears in his or her eyes, and then strike the deal.

    The problem with this; it’s almost irreversible when the economy picks back up as it surely will.

    The questions are: Are we making a big stick to beat ourselves with in the long term?

  2. Robert MonteuxRobert Monteux10-03-2009

    Great post, Tom! Slowly but surely companies are starting to get it.


  3. tjmckaytjmckay10-03-2009

    @gorclark Ain’t it the truth? Many people think if it’s online, it ought to be free. Of course, these same people willingly pay for housing, food, Web access, cable TV, cell phones, etc. It’s all about perceived value. I feel my job is to 1) create products and services with real value, 2) package them so their price is much less than their actual value to the customer, then 3) communicate their value and benefits well enough to get them to pry open their wallets. That’s what marketing and copywriting are all about.

    As for me, my aim is to give away lots of good stuff, but to sell crucial elements. For example, I’m writing an e-course now that freely gives away the “What You Need to to Do.” But only buyers get the “Here’s How to Do It.”

  4. tjmckaytjmckay10-03-2009

    @ Robert. I hope so. The bigger the company, the slower they seem to get the message. But that’s a big advantage for us nimble, little guys!

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