I’m on the bus back to my London flat in Dalston reading the first draft of a new sales letter a copywriter has just sent me to review.
In the time it takes me to get from Leicester Square to the Balls Pond Road, I’ve read it.
It flows well, really well. I’m excited to see how the market will react when it gets tested.
I watch the houses go by and remember why I love copywriting: my gut tells me it’s gonna fly. I text the writer to tell him as much.
Sure, there are a couple of minor suggestions I have at points where I think the copywriter has ‘overwritten’ a little…
I know why. He’s excited by the research he’s uncovered. But that detail distracts the reader from the main thread – including it would be indulgent.
But aside from that, it’s really strong.
I get to the flat, have a cup of tea and read a little fiction before bed to clear my mind of copy.
In the morning I wake up and head into the shower…
There, it hits me:
An objection to the draft I’d not thought about the previous night.
And it’s a pretty major objection.
Maybe it was the fact I’d just been to see the new Justice League film and I’d been numbed in some way by its total averageness…
Or maybe some objections in copy just take a little while to manifest.
Either way, when speaking to the writer about it later that day – it raised an interesting point about dealing with objections in copy, which I want to share in this piece…
Having read through the sales letter really smoothly – and on my mobile to boot – I knew it was good and didn’t need much editing.
We sat down to discuss it the minor points I wanted to raise.
And then I explained what my main worry was: the objection that had only come after a night’s sleep.
He understood the objection.
I won’t go into too much detail, but essentially the objection was a case of ‘why would I do the weird new thing you’re suggesting over the usual thing that everyone else is doing’.
I knew why, of course.
So did he.
But when reading the letter the night before I’d not spotted it.
It was only by ‘sleeping on the idea’ that I’d somehow realised this seemingly obvious objection hadn’t been dealt with in the copy.
That’s interesting to me.
You see, if it’s such an obvious objection: why hadn’t I raised it straight away.
(The first takeaway here is to make sure when you’re reviewing copy, you put some space between your first and second review. Or if you’re only doing one review, make sure you do a second a day after.)
The sales letter had so effectively engaged me, I’d started to think about using the advice myself and skipped past the objection.
That’s a really good thing.
It means the copy is doing its job.
In my subconscious sleep, I’d gone from an objective reader to a subjective prospect thinking about the practicalities of following the advice.
In turn that had caused me to think about the idea in a different way.
Yet, I’d go as far as to say that if you sent the letter out without dealing with that objection, it would still work pretty well.
But hey, ‘pretty well’ is no fun.
We’re interested here in digging deep into direct response and understanding things on a much deeper level so we can not just write copy that does ‘pretty well’…
We want to SMASH IT, right?
Good – glad you’re with me.
So, the obvious thing to do is overcome this delayed objection.
But wait, because it’s important you don’t do it too early in your copy…
Overcoming delayed objections
Having discussed the objection, the writer in question went away and reviewed the copy for points where he could overcome the objection.
It didn’t need much, just a line or two to address the point and explain why you should do X over Y.
The writer came back to me and showed me three points where he thought the objection should be dealt with in the copy.
One was later in the sales letter, say page 12 of 20.
A second was on page 3.
Yep, makes sense.
And a finally he asked if he should include a line on page 1.
Despite it being an obvious and essentially fundamental objection, I don’t believe it needs to be raised on page 1.
Well, I’d only had the objection when I’d started thinking about how to follow the advice myself. The copy was doing it’s job. It had pulled me in, engaged me and got me thinking about how to act on it.
So, it was important to understand this objection was NOT one that needed to be addressed too early.
The line on page 3 of the letter was early enough to overcome it, but to try to overcome it on page 1 would actually do the opposite…
It would highlight it.
And there we have the key lesson here:
Understanding it is not always effective to try to overcome every objection as soon as you can.
Sometimes you must lead a reader to the objection.
You must let them read on knowing they have it.
You must walk a tightrope with them: knowing they have or will eventually raise the objection, but using other techniques to engage them until you are ready to tackle and overcome it.
If you’re able to do that… to identify ‘delayed’ objections like this… and manage them well in your copy… your copy won’t just do ‘pretty well’…
It’ll hit it out of the park.
Think about that next time you’re reviewing copy and trying to identify objections…
Deal with your initial objections early on as you usually would… but be on the lookout for those objections that take a little longer to raise their head.
And when you spot one, don’t rush to answer it.
Be aware of it. Manage it. And only deal with it when the reader is ready.
P.S. In case you haven’t see before, as I say, I’ve also put together another simple guide that outlines my own training methods as well as detailing more than twenty ways to boost the conversion of your current copy.
Filled with specific writing tasks I’ve used to train successful copywriters, I guarantee this will help improve your copywriting – or your money back.