A constant challenge freelance copywriters like myself have to face is how to make our copy more credible and more believable.

Readers have good reasons for their inherent skepticism when it comes to reading advertisements, direct mail pieces and web content. Every marketer claims their widget is the greatest thing on the planet, but too often they merely want to take the customer’s money and run.

Here are a few ideas that might make your marketing materials more credible to the buyers you want to reach. Obviously, not all these types of information will be available in every case, but be sure to take advantage of them when they are.

  1. Show third party reviews from the media, comparing your product or company to the also-rans who make up your competition. Clearly this will be a rare opportunity, but make sure your PR people respond to inquiries by the media (especially trade publications that cater to your customers if you are marketing toward businesses). In some instances, the PR staff might even suggest such a review.

  2. Use research evidence consisting of scientific data and published information regarding the problems your product is designed to solve. For example, if you make a product that prevents bone deterioration, cite data showing the causes of bone diseases, how common they are and who is most likely to suffer from it.

  3. Use logical arguments to convince readers of your key points. For example, show how valuable a long-term, repeat customer is worth to you to explain why it is in your own best interest to deal fairly with first time customers.

  4. Referrals. Nothing carries more credibility than statements by satisfied customers. Survey your previous customers to get their feedback. Don’t use multiple choice questions, instead ask for brief answers to specific questions. You can use the most positive answers as customer referrals after you obtain their permission.

  5. Your customer list. If you have served an impressive list of corporate clients, indulge in some serious name dropping. The reader will naturally assume, “if IBM, Microsoft and Coca Cola are doing business with these guys, the must be good.”

  6. Specialization. When you focus your practice on one type of customer or one specific field, it stands to reason you are an expert in that area. Readers trust specialists and understand that they are more qualified than someone who covers too much territory.

  7. Credentials. If your company has received awards and recognition, point them out to your readers. If you are an individual sole proprietorship, and you went to an Ivy League school or have a PhD, flaunt it.

  8. Track Record. If you have been in business since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, let people know about it. The mere fact that you are a long-established firm shows stability and is very reassuring to prospective customers.

  9. Free Information. Publish a booklet, a white paper, an ebook or some other material that you can give out to people who inquire about your product. Create materials that educate people on how to choose the right widget to suit their needs, or show them how to avoid being ripped off. You can also publish a booklet on frequently asked questions. In any case, your credibility will go way up just because of your printed material.

  10. Membership. Join every professional society and organization that promotes excellence in your industry. While you are at it, join the Better Business Bureau, AAA or the SPCA for that matter.

  11. Take away the buyer’s risk. I’ve saved the best for last. Whenever you can offer an ironclad guarantee, a trial period, or reduce the up front cost to a pittance, you make the perceived risk of doing business with you so small the customer has no reason not to act.

Credibility is a constant battle if you are to get buyers to act on your offer. But if you put yourself in the minds of your readers and look at your offer through their eyes, you know what they fear and where to strengthen your credibility.

COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown


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