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The Copywriting ‘Red Herring’ You Need to Know About

You wouldn’t think kippered herrings and copywriting had much in common, let alone a good story.

But I know one. And here it is.

But first, let’s start with a question.

What do consumers really want?

It’s an interesting question and one that has perplexed marketers over many generations and resulted in a whole lot of research.

The problem is that countless consumer surveys and focus groups have consistently revealed contradictions in peoples answers when it comes to products and their preferences.

Take for example ad agency McCann Erickson.

Back in the 1950s, they asked a sample group why they didn’t buy a particular brand of kippered herring. The main response was that the respondents just did not like the taste of kippers. However, when probed further, it came to light that a whopping 40% of them had never even tasted kippers!

This and lots of other similar studies have led many marketers to conclude that shoppers simply do not behave rationally when it comes to buying products and that people buy on emotion and perhaps, occasionally, back it up with some form of logic.

What’s more, people have a habit of saying one thing and doing the opposite.

But what does that actually mean?

That you have to reduce your prospect to tears or make them want to jump up and do an air punch?

Not exactly.

You see, it is what is emotive to your particular audience that is key, and appealing to their ‘reason why’ they are buying your product. And remember, in some cases, you are seeding the want and need that does not yet exist.

For example, if you are selling oranges are you selling a bright sticky fruit which can be tricky to open, or are you selling health and vitality?

If you are selling health and vitality, then you will need to dig a lot deeper. You need to explore exactly WHY your orange buyers want to be more healthy and full of energy, and you shouldn’t stop asking until you get to the core reason.

What’s more, some products have different appeal to different segments (see what I did there?) of your audience. Some people will be buying your product for an entirely different reason than you imagined (or what your particular survey results indicated).

So always remember the story of the kippered herring when it comes to copywriting, and test what people do, not what they say.

Be willing to dig deeper and then take it from there!


P.S. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur and want to learn more about copywriting to boost your business, you can apply to join the Compelling Copy Corner Facebook Group at the link here.

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