It’s a classic sales page feature: two bullet-pointed lists.
The first list says something like ‘This is for you if…’ or ‘You’re in the right place if…’
Most sales pages have fabulous ‘for you’ sections. They’re enthusiastic, joyful, full of motivation and exciting things – and that’s much nicer to write, right? So let’s turn our attention to the second list: ‘This is not for you’.
I like to swoop in on these lists and have a good nosy around, because this is where subtle issues can creep in. Here are a few anonymised versions from different sales pages that I’ve spotted in the wild:
Real copy examples A
This isn’t for you if:
- You prefer 1:1 coaching (for a group coaching programme)
- You’re looking for professional photography training (for a course on Reels)
- You need a beginner’s guide to this topic (for an advanced course)
Real copy examples B
This isn’t for you if:
- You don’t want to see amazing changes in your life
- You’re not willing to work hard to reach your goals
- You don’t want your business to be successful
Can you see the difference? List A adds loads of value to your potential client, giving them practical guidance about whether you can help them right now, and ensuring they know what to expect when they sign up.
It acknowledges that they already know what they need, and they’re actively looking for it. You’re speaking to them as an equal adult, capable of healthy decisions, which is always a great place to start.
List B is… problematic.
ONE It’s problematic because these points target identity, bringing shame and inferiority into the mix. If you don’t want to buy, the logic goes, then it must be because you’re unmotivated, lazy, or failing.
Actually, there are a hundred valid reasons why someone may not invest in a course or programme, and I would guarantee none of them are: ‘I’d hate to have an amazing life, no thanks’.
Quick acknowledgment on imposter syndrome and trauma history: maybe your reader genuinely feels like they don’t deserve amazing change. There are LOTS of ways to address this with nuance, and speak empathetically to people through your copy. It’s just that the ‘Not for you’ one-liner can’t possibly achieve this.
TWO It’s problematic because these points unbalance the dynamic. That nice equal-adults tone we saw in the first list is replaced with the seller taking an expert-teacher role, and pushing the buyer into a naïve-child role.
If we’re feeling vulnerable, this can take advantage of our uncertainties… so you may get the sale, but is the result worth the method? (I don’t think so.)
If we’re feeling fine, we may well bounce straight off the sales page because we don’t like this kind of tone. Either way, we all feel bad when someone goes coldly for capitalising on our need for security, belonging, and a hopeful future.
THREE It’s problematic because these points present false choices
Saying something like ‘This isn’t for you if you don’t want your business to be successful’ sets up a false choice: either buy my thing, or have a rubbish business. One or the other.
Whereas we know that there’s a multitude of ways to market well, and no offer can be the ONE THING that creates business success. I’m 100% convinced that we are all individuals growing businesses individually, and there is huge potential to succeed at our own pace, in our own sphere of genius.
FOUR It’s problematic because these points maximise negativity
Lastly, I’m interested in how List A is all in the positive – here’s some useful information for you, my fine reader! And List B is all in the negative – you don’t, you won’t, you aren’t. Aside from some convoluted grammatical construction, they’re much more emotive, scary and confronting.
Which has been part of ‘successful’ sales copy for a long time.
But marketing is changing. It’s no longer OK to find people’s pain points and prod them over and over. I like empathetic, responsible messaging because I believe we should approach each other as fellow humans, but it’s also good for business, more now than ever.
Having an audience that trusts you, recommends you, and comes back over and over again is SO much cheaper than finding new people to frighten every 6 months.
What do you think? If you’d like to know more about empathetic copywriting, drop me a message with your questions!