MSP Copywriting – Part 8

MSP Copywriting - 18

As a quick recap, last time I mentioned that repetition is the workhorse of marketing and that there’s no reason why your sales copy can’t restate the main points more than once throughout the copy – in different ways if necessary.

This is especially true of trying to ensure your target market reads your message in the first place, which is why sending multiple emails and follow-up letters and other collateral helps to increase your take-up rate – the fortune really is in the follow up.

Now, how much you should follow up is the cause of great debate and some people can get quite uptight about it. As I left-off last time, controversy isn’t always a bad thing when you’re writing sales copy.

That’s because, if nothing else, it stirs emotions and emotions are what make people take action – such as buying your services.

Controversy Is Interesting. And Often Emotional.

As long as you’re careful not to alienate the reader (remember what I said before about attaching your ideas to their beliefs rather than attacking their beliefs) then you can use controversy as a tool to help you sell, i.e. you can write in such a way that you are making controversy your ally, not your enemy.

I’ll repeat this because it really is key. Use emotional words. I’m fully aware that in the IT and managed services industry, this can be a challenge but – as always – this is an opportunity because most people don’t do it.

Of course, controversy is (by its very nature ) means that some people will disagree with you and you could run the risk of alienating the wrong people. However, polarising people can mean that you bring the right people closer to you and distance yourself from people you’d rather not to sell to anyway.

One way to do this is to paint someone as the “bad guy” that you and the audience (i.e. the audience you you want) can collectively take a side against. This creates a sense of unity and solidarity. People selling Apple products are no stranger to this. Neither ae politicians and so forth. Personally, I like to ensure that the “bad guy” is someone I won’t ever need or want.

So, as an example, you could make the bad guy the tax-man or hackers or whomever is relevant to your narrative. The braver you are and more controversial you are, the more polarised you’ll get and a stronger reaction, so handle with care.

Remember that controversy can stir up some very powerful emotions and to do that, you’ll need to use emotional words.

Using Emotional Words.

Even in the relatively boring world of managed services, you can (and should) use emotional words for the ‘feelings’ that your benefit will bring the reader.  So if your antivirus service runs quietly in the background without slowing down the machine appreciably and gives really good protection, you need to stimulate the copy with the relevant words that stimulate emotions.

As a general reminder, your copy should address one of the following emotions :

  1. Curiosity: Spark interest and make readers eager to learn more.
  2. Trust: Build credibility and foster a sense of reliability and authority.
  3. Fear: Highlight risks or potential losses if no action is taken, creating a sense of urgency.
  4. Happiness: Evoke joy or satisfaction that readers could attain from the product/service.
  5. Sadness: Tap into feelings of empathy or shared struggles to establish a connection.
  6. Surprise: Offer something unexpected to pique intrigue or break from the norm.
  7. Desire: Create a strong want or need for the product or service.
  8. Pride: Appeal to readers’ self-esteem or aspirations, making them feel exclusive or ahead.

So, using the example above about anti virus software, you might describe how they’ll be happy that their PC isn’t always running extra slow when the AV is running.

Of course there’s always the good old favourite, i.e. pushing the fear button to suggest that if they don’t have your antivirus then they’ll have a catastrophe but personally, I think that’s being done a bit too much in current times and it’d be nice to see some other emotions being leveraged in people’s marketing.


Of course, thinking about the right emotion to hang your words and stories and sales copy onto can require a bit of imagination. Engaging your prospect’s imagination is critical if you want to get proper traction with them.

This is why when you describe your solution, you need to paint a picture of the future so that they have seen your desired outcome in their mind’s eye and consequently they will be significantly more likely to buy from you.

They’ll fill in the gaps in their head with benefits that you might not have thought of. As an aside, this is why it’s so important to use images in your marketing that show the solution as having been fully achieved. ‘Before and after’ photos work well but if you only have one image in your marketing then for goodness sake make sure you have a picture of the desired outcome!

So, with regards to that AV software that saves people time, you could try something like :

 “Imagine the benefits of saving an extra 10 minutes each day with a machine that doesn’t get bogged down. That’s almost an hour a week, what could you do with it?”

Or Something else completely like : “If you left your laptop on a train somewhere,  what would happen if the wrong people got into your work and data? But you needn’t worry because with our laptops and service, all your data is backed up in the cloud, the laptop is guaranteed uncrackable and useless to anyone else and all our laptops are insured plus you’ll be up and running the next day or even sooner. Can you imagine how that would feel to know you’re bullet-proof like that, instead of panicking all the time?”

Quick tip Tip : Offer Two Realities That You Control.

As seen in the last example, you can make people imagine what they’ll do with a benefit. You can also offer two realities which assumes that they’ll choose one, such as : “Imagine when our software makes your accounts team get the invoicing and admin done in half the time, will you hire less people or give them more time off?”

That last example is almost like the classic sales ‘fork’ where you ask if they’ll take the product in green or blue because they then have the illusion of choice. The main take-away here is that people need to imagine their future scenario as being better in as much detail as possible and offering alternatives lets people fill focus on that.

Statements Posed as Questions.

On that note about encouraging your prospects to use their imagination, it’s important to remember that people will believe themselves far more readily than other people so one very powerful way to make your copy instantly more believable is to pose a statement as a question with the answer in the mind of the reader.

Thus, saying “Wouldn’t you agree that smoking is dangerous and it’s a good idea to quit?” is more persuasive than “Stop smoking, it’s bad for you.”

A Quick Note About Presuppositions.

As an extension to that last point, one way to slip suggestions, ideas, commands  under the critical thinking ‘radar’ is to use two-part sentences and presuppose the bit you need compliance for. It works because the prospect’s brain is busy with the first part of the sentence so it automatically accepts the second part.

 For example, using our earlier example, you could say “Will your staff be worried about their job-security with all the extra time they’ll have on their hands?”

In this example, your prospect’s brain is thinking about HR and staffing concerns and presupposing that the second part of the sentence is valid otherwise it makes no sense : “What will they do with the extra they’ll have on their hands?”

For best effect, these presuppositions should be quick-fire or ‘stacked’ one after the other, so that critical thinking doesn’t get a chance to scupper you. Again, just listen to politicians who are masters of this stuff. They’ll use words like clearly, obviously, evidently or undoubtedly to setup their presuppositions to give them more substance.

So you can do this too – for example “Clearly, you’ll have to reassure your staff given they’ll be having less work to do.”

Now, that’s enough sneaky tricks for this time. Next time, I want to get back to making the sales copy really desirable before looking at the calls-to-action and how to increase your response rates.


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Mike Knight