The case against “hype run amok”

May 6, 2022

So your product spokesperson hasn’t made the New York Times bestselling list.

They haven’t been quoted in any major media.

They’re nowhere near being considered a “household name” or well-recognized expert.

But guess what? It doesn’t matter…

One of the most effective ways to build belief and credibility with your prospect is to simply speak to him or her as if you know them.

And then whip out whatever credibility boosters you have at the ready. (Note: as I’m about to explain, you don’t need loads of big claims to throw out, either. In fact, it just might be better that way.)

The eye-grabbing stuff that really matters isn’t a bunch of fancy “As seen in” logos (those have gotten so overdone the reader just kind of skips over them)…

Or huge earnings or income claims that simply fall on deaf ears as the prospect’s heard them all before (and they could land you in trouble with the FTC to boot)…

It’s whether you’re speaking directly to ME, the prospect, and calling out my deepest fears, hopes, wishes, and desires.

That’s exactly what the copy we’re going to look at today does.

And it was written by one of my Fast Track to A-List copywriting mentees, Kristen Driscoll. (You can get on the wait list for my next mentoring group here.)

This sales page is promoting a coaching program for investors. It’s a highly-competitive niche and can be tricky territory for marketers in terms of making big claims.

In fact, the smartest marketing lawyer I know–Peter Hoppenfeld–recently sent out an alert that there’s a regulatory crackdown heating up on companies mainly in the trading and investing space.

Aggressive earnings claims… ineffectual, self-serving disclaimers… and a reliance on unsubstantiated proof and “hype run amok” (as Peter put it) can all land you in the hot seat with the FTC and other unforgiving regulators.

And they have the power to serve up huge million-dollar-plus fines and shut down your most profitable promos and revenue streams.

You don’t need to rely on these old tricks and take those kinds of huge risks.

In fact, the MORE realistic and less “hype-y” you are, the more you’ll build belief and trust. And–as I said at the beginning–honing your research skills so you have a crystal-clear picture of your avatar.

The great Gary Bencivenga wrote many a successful financial promo in what was even then a highly-competitive niche. If you study some of his past promos, you’ll see he was all about providing proof versus big claims, and building belief by speaking directly to the prospect.

So let’s take a look at what Kristen is doing here with her sales page… and how she is applying some of the techniques I’ve just mentioned to draw prospects in (without getting her client in hot water).

Let’s start with the top of the sales page…

Look at how that pre-head calls out exactly who this is for while incorporating the key dominant emotions they’re likely feeling right now? (“Alarmed Traders” and “Concerned Investors”).

The main headline then agitates further by calling out the top issues that are causing those emotions (brilliantly applying the Robert Collier principle of entering the conversation that’s already happening in your prospect’s mind).

Notice the issues chosen (Russia, the Fed/interest rates, and post-Covid volatility) are ones that will likely be continuing for a while. They’re not too short-term focused (like Elon Musk buying Twitter–which already feels like “old news”).

Most important, rather than simply call out the prospect and agitate the problem and their emotions linked to it, it offers up hope: a big promise that delivers the ultimate salvation to the emotions and problem set up by the main headline.

And it does so by opening a loop and compelling the prospect to read on… which is exactly the #1 job of the headline.

Now, let’s keep reading… because how could we not? Let’s take a look at the lead (or, for you more traditional advertising folks, “lede”–note: I’ve added the hand-drawn red marks here)…

The salutation seamlessly calls out the same prospect that the pre-head did, and then there’s a perfect congruence in the opening paragraphs that flow from the main headline. This is what the prospect expects to hear, rather than throwing out something that causes whiplash and goes off in another direction.

It further agitates the issues presented in the headline and acknowledges that it could already be outdated, a good hedge when using current events in your copy.

But then it opens another loop that demands to be closed with “But you are in danger.” It also brings the copy back from talking about external events to how all this affects ME, the prospect… which is what they really care about.

And right after that, it presents having a “plan” as a way of foreshadowing the solution… the “major fail-safe every trader needs” that’s mentioned just a few paragraphs later.

Then a little bit later, the copy presents the unique mechanism of the solution it’s offering, without giving away too much. It tells the prospect just enough to convince them that it works for every kind of investment in any market and, more importantly, that it’s DIFFERENT from what they’ve tried before.

It then makes a big promise: “In just one month, you could be on track to 2X, 3X, or even 5X your profits.” It’s a sexy promise but not so specific that, in my non-lawyerly opinion, would land you in trouble.

This lead has a great, tight, logical flow… someone reading it is able to glide right through it without any “speed bumps” and become intrigued and convinced enough to want to keep finding out more. The only thing I would add here to make the copy stronger once the solution is hinted at is some proof.

Whenever you make a big promise (and 5X’ing your profits in just one month is pretty big), you’ve got to at least refer to a track record or how many people have successfully used this system or something… at this point, keep it brief but have it there whispering in the prospect’s ear that “yes, this isn’t the same BS you’ve seen a thousand times”.

Now, that said, right after this last paragraph and the CTA button is a mini-bio of the “guru” behind the product… and after that is a whole section that goes deeper into her many accomplishments. (If you click on any of the promo images it will take you to the sales page promo, but be sure to come back and read the rest of my email!)

This bio summarizes Jody’s wealth of experience but also makes her relatable by talking about making “the same mistakes myself”. It then sets up the unique solution she’s created to solve the problem.

In the copy that follows this bio are more specific stories that serve to build up her credibility… some of which I think could be called out more earlier.

For example, she could borrow credibility from J.P. Morgan by “name dropping” that she was a VP there as well as one of the first female global traders…

…or that she’s been an invited speaker at Harvard and has spoken to audiences in New York and Las Vegas to Shanghai and Dubai. Now, she sounds like much more of an authority. (You’ll need to click the actual promo to read more here.)

There’s lot more to study and comment on in this extremely well-done sales page, but I simply don’t have time. However, there is the following graphic at the end of the close section that’s worth noting and studying.

Here, at the crucial point of decision-making, is a bulleted “at a glance” summary of everything you get, right above the CTA button. Then below it is copy that agitates the cost (and pain points) of NOT taking action right now. Take a look…

Here the copywriter is tapping into FOMO (“fear of missing out”) which is really fear of experiencing regret later. The way this is written, it’s providing social proof of this regret happening to people who didn’t take action while allowing the prospect to put themselves in the same shoes and pre-experience it themselves.

Brilliant job with this, Kristen! Especially since Kristen has not written financial copy before this promo and does not consider herself knowledgeable about the financial industry.

Clearly, she’s a quick study… and it just goes to show that the same carefully-honed research and copywriting skills can be applied to just about anything you may write going forward.

Hope you enjoyed this breakdown and great example of lead (“lede”?) copy… if you got something out of it, please reply back to this email and let me know!

(Or we can just argue about whether it’s “lead” or “lede”…)

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