On my very first project as a direct marketing copywriter I ran up against a little barrier — company attorneys. The client was GEFCO (Government Employees Financial Corporation), known these days by their cute green gecko as GEICO.
The direct mail letter I wrote was for selling CDs (I don’t want to date myself, but they were paying 14% at the time) and it opened with the line “pay yourself first.” GEFCO’s attorney took one look at the copy and said “you can’t do that.” I’ve never figured out why you can’t pay yourself first, but it got me started on cringing every time a client said their attorney had to look over the marketing copy I had written.
These days I’m a bit more sympathetic. With endless news stories about greedy business people and the threat of lawsuits, companies have become very cautious about everything they do. This fear can seep into marketing decisions and, often, companies are terrified of over-promising what their product or service can do.
Marketing shouldn’t lie about what a product can do, but research shows that the greater a prospect’s expectations, the greater their level of satisfaction.
What does that mean to marketers? That you shouldn’t underplay the strengths of your product or service. Don’t lie. But be sure to create a strong image of how much better the prospect’s life will be once they are using your product or service.
You’ll sell more and get more satisfied customers in the process.