Let’s face it, if you look around long enough at information about business writing eventually you are going to come across an article about writing copy that sells! This information will no doubt tread the well worn ground of grabbing your reader’s attention, creating urgency, and most importantly of all, a can’t miss call to action. Don’t get me wrong, these are indeed the critical tenants of well crafted copy, but the implementation often goes horribly wrong, mostly due to an inability to update with the changing times.
A Free Trial?
Most writing instructions will implore you to seriously consider using a “free trial” for your call to action. This was once good advice, but that time has past. You see, not long ago, several good honest hard working businesses offered free trials of their products. The theory was that once someone experienced just how great the product or service was, then they would gladly become paying customers. The problem is that many not so honest businesses quickly joined the fray with trial offers that were sneaky or outright fraudulent. Now, the words, free trial offer, conjure an immediate eye roll in most any reader whose first thought is not the possibility of just how wonderful it might be to test your product for free, but rather, “What’s the catch?”
Think about it another way. When was the last time you took advantage of a free trial offer? I’m willing to bet that either a) you were going to buy the product anyway, and the free trial just meant you saved some money, or b) you never intended to become a paying customer and you just wanted to use the free period. Does either of those scenarios sound like the kind of activity you want to be generating?
When AOL built its entire Internet empire on the free trial offer, business noticed. Free trials became very common. But, someone else noticed too. Customers who signed up for a free trial, but forgot to cancel noticed that most free trial offers come with the requirement to provide a credit card number or other billing information. Most Americans by now are all too savvy to the fact that half the reason companies offer free trials is to get a few payments after the customer forgets to cancel.
This stigma on the free trial means that not only will the reader not take the free trial offer, but they may also regard the entire copy as suspect and chose to simply not believe or further investigate anything it says.
Better Than a Free Trial
Any good writer or marketer knows that simply sending out great informative copy is worthless unless it compels the reader to take steps that ultimately lead to a sale. After all, you aren’t just trying to get people to agree with you that your product or service is great. No one is trying to win a popularity contest. So, how do you implement a solid call to action without a free trial offer?
This is where a freelance writer with real world professional experience can be a great help. One size fits all has never been the way to go, and that is especially true in marketing. While a sweepstakes or raffle may be a good route for one product, it may be a blunder for another. Tailoring the call to action to the specific product or company is paramount to success.
A Buy One Get One Free Sale for eyeglasses will tend to draw more past customers (especially families who can get one pair each for husband and wife) than it will new customers. That is fine if the goal is to increase sales for that period, but not so great if the goal is to expand your client base. To get new clients into an eyeglass business a straight 30% off sale would work better. Even better might be a free eye exam for anyone who brings in an old prescription. But something more original could be even more powerful.
Take the increasing number of people investigating buying eyeglasses online. Glassy Eyes details one man’s success with online eyeglass vendors, but even a cursory reading throws up many cautions and red flags. Read closer and you will see that the number one hang-up for many who want to go this route is getting the prescription from the eye doctor who doesn’t want to give it out. An offer to provide a free eye exam in exchange for the customer brining in a printout of the online glasses they are thinking about buying so that you can match the price. Better yet, if you can use your expertise to point out that the pair they have selected won’t look very good on their round face and even point them to a similar pair (they can even check the dimensions if they want) that they can try on may not only give you a customer today, but a loyal future customer who recommends you to friends. “I was going to buy a pair online, but when they showed me a similar pair they looked awful. I didn’t end up paying that much more, and my glasses actually look good.”