My parents were not CRUNCHY, persay.
But if you look at photos of my childhood, you might not believe me.
I ran around in multi-colored Birkenstocks, spent long hours in vitamin aisles at health food stores, and made myself a lot of whole-grain cornflakes in almond milk for breakfast. Sugar was a strictly monitored substance. Fast food was an abomination (the documentary ”Supersize Me” had a profound impact on my parents.)
I’m not complaining, I loved my childhood. This is backstory.
And this backstory explains why, a few weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch when an absolutely stunning revelation hit me.
I own a car.
I have a JOB.
I live three minutes away from a McDonalds.
On the heels of this revelation, I was out the door as fast as I could wrestle myself into a sports bra and Adidas. In no time at all, I was driving my Prius with my right hand and clutching a deliciously melty vanilla ice cream cone in my left. My inner 7-year-old was delighted.
As I came around the corner, I drove past my neighbor. Who is an ACTUAL 7-year-old. When she saw what I was holding, her hands flew to her hips, her gaze darted between me and the ice cream, and she gave me a look that was equal parts admiration, longing, and deep jealousy.
I thought that was the end of the matter. (It was very shortly the end of the ice cream.) But the next time I saw my neighbor she, without so much as a hello, demanded:
“Why did you get that ice cream??”
I didn’t have to think about my answer.
“Because I’m an adult. And one of the few nice things about being an adult is that you can get ice cream when you want to.”
I stand by that. Not necessarily the ice cream, that can backfire on you pretty quickly. But I believe that,
The main thing that makes us adults is our autonomy and our agency.
So why do most businesses try to to ignore that fact?
We’ve been conditioned to believe that
Autonomy is bad for business.
Don’t believe me? Think about the infomercial.
The average infomercial went from “has this ever happened to you!?” to “call now!” in the space of about two minutes. Two minutes to convert a channel-surfing couch potato into someone chanting a 1-800 number under their breath like a Gregorian monk while they scrambled for their wallet and house phone.
This is the model that we grew up with — where the goal of a brand was to secure a sale before the customer had time to ask any questions. And that, my friend, is a recipe for a very unstable client base.
On the other hand, when your messaging helps customers to make informed decisions, you attract clients who know why they’re there and who want to stick around.
There is nothing more appealing to a customer than a brand who treats them like an adult.
So let's talk actionable tips for protecting your consumers’choice in three impactful areas.
Protecting consumer choice in your web copy
Tip #1: Offer the same information in multiple places, in multiple formats.
Why: Presenting key benefits and features in a variety of ways lets your customers to absorb information on their terms.
Personally, I love a chunky paragraph. While my learning style lends itself to narrative, someone else will get much more benefit from a carousel, or an interactive flow chart.
Tip #2: Tell them who your item or offer is NOT suited for.
Why: When we allow the wrong person to say “no thank you,” we’re actually making space for the right person to say “yes.”
“If you’re looking to keep your beverages chilled, this isn’t the mug for you. But you can count on us to keep everything toasty warm for hours on end!”
”This is a done-WITH-you service, so if you need someone to take Pinterest off your plate, we might not be a good fit.”
Tip: #3: Offer clickable learn-more options
Why: Offering information on-demand instead of surfacing everything at once allows customers to follow their own curiosity to into as many or as few details as they need.
Protecting consumer choice during your launch
Tip #1: Be obnoxiously transparent about deadlines
Why: Deadline transparency gives a customer the freedom to make a planned investment instead of caving in to an impulse buy.
Fight the urge to quote Eminem and tell clients that “this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” Let them know when doors open, when they’ll close, AND the next time that this opportunity will come around again.
Tip #2: Talk about their reservations before they do
Why: Proactively addressing their concerns allows them to have full visibility on what they’re committing to.
It feels counterintuitive to publicly poke holes in your own offer. But showing your client that you understand the factors influencing their decision proves that you also understand them.
Tip #3: Offer alternatives to high-ticket items WITHOUT BEING ASKED
Why: No copywriter in the world should talk someone into purchasing something that they truly cannot afford.
If you offer discounts, payment plans, or are planning on having a future sales — tell your customers this up front. Instead of writing you off as “too expensive,” they’ll listen with interest, and catch your offer the next time it comes around.
Protecting consumer choice in content marketing
Tip #1: Be up front about email frequency
Why: It’s just good manners.
There’s a reason why I call an inbox your “digital doorstep.” Starting your email relationship by letting customers know when and how often to expect you means that you’ll be a welcome guest, instead of that one relative who always stops by at the worst possible time. (👀)
Tip #2: Segment your list, and offer opt-outs
Why: Enabling customers to receive the type of emails they see value in.
The inbox version of road rage is the feeling you get when you’re bombarded by emails with no opt-out in sight. Segmenting your list into tailored lanes of content means that an opt-out results in a happier subscriber, instead of a lost one.
Tip #3: Use headings and blog synopses
Why: Giving potential customers direct and clear access to the content that they’re looking for.
Yes, yes, yes. Screens are rotting our brains and destroying our attention spans. But headlines and blog synopses allow clients to scan your article and determine if it would be valuable for them before setting aside the time to read all 300+ words (the minimum number of words needed to appease the Google Gods, btw.)
We can’t "convince" our way
into brand loyalty.
"Customers hold most of the cards today. They […] don’t like to be sold. But they do like to buy. Your job shouldn’t be to convince customers to buy, but to help them buy what they want."
As a copywriter, it’s not my job to convince people that they need you. It’s to help people decide that they do.
And when you prioritize your clients’ right to choose? Chances are, they’ll choose you.