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Copywriting in Low-Trust Times

Published by: David Garfinkel on 07-13-2020

I was watching TV last Sunday, and since we record a few episodes ahead, I was watching TV on the last Sunday of May.

The show was “Meet the Press,” and it always starts with the announcer starting by pointing out that this is the longest-running show on TV. Of any show.

From a marketing point of view, that’s an enviable place to be. Usually, when you’ve been on the air since 1947, that lasting power alone simply radiates trust. People tend to trust anything that’s been around a long time.

So it really caught my attention when in the waning seconds of the show, the moderator, Chuck Todd, said something I’ve never heard him, or anyone else on TV, say before:

“Thank you for trusting us.”

The reason this caught my attention really doesn’t have much to do with Meet the Press, which is by far not one of my favorite shows, nor what it might have said about Chuck Todd, who, to be honest with you, is not my favorite TV personality.

I was a little stunned by the words “thank you for trusting us” because I don’t think anyone in Chuck Todd’s position would utter words like that unless he, and a lot of very nervous people around him, were worried about keeping the trust of the viewing audience.

And don’t think for a minute this rising tide of distrust is limited to that moderator, that show, or that TV network. It is widespread. It is, frankly, everywhere. And as a marketer and copywriter, this is something you need to be aware of and to adjust your marketing message to.

I have handpicked three emotional triggers from my book Breakthrough Copywriting. I have never shared these three before, because, frankly, they are pretty intense.

But I think they are good medicine for the distrust that ails us.

(first) Trigger 2: Empathy through shared misery

When people are hurting, scared or mistrustful, showing them that you know how they feel will bring down barriers and make them much more open to what you have to say.

I’ve heard that empathy is easier for some people than for others. I have also heard a theory that either you’re born with it, or you’re not. I don’t know if that’s 100% real, but I do know that some people have natural empathy and others have to work at developing it. Right now I would say it’s simply one of the most important qualities and assets you can have, as a copywriter and as a business owner.

(second) Trigger 6: Sour Grapes to Vintage Wine

Sometimes severely underpromising the results you know your product can get, can increase sales.

If you go too far past what people think is real and possible for them, even if you know that much more is real and possible, you’re going to lose a lot of sales. This, again, is why it’s so important to know your customers.

(third) Trigger 11: From Desperation to Salvation

Trace the path of from complete helplessness to an amazing turnaround, that you can actually deliver with your product.

A lot of people are feeling pretty desperate right now. If you have a legitimate offer that will help them out of the quicksand, this is a great format to use to tell your story.

All of these are from Chapter 10 of Breakthrough Copywriting.

Keywords: copywriting bad economy

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