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Is marketing copy becoming irrelevant?

CopyBecomingIrrelevant_0[1]Now that consumer-generated product information – mostly in the form of reviews – is overwhelming the web and dominating the customer’s buying process, I have to ask the question: is marketing copy becoming obsolete? Does the very fact that a marketer wrote some copy make that copy  less-believable, less-trustworthy, and therefore – dare I say – irrelevant?

Almost everyone knows that copywriters are paid to say nice things about the products they’re describing. They say “our experts will have you up and running in no time,” even if the process takes 6 weeks and involves IT, your webmaster, your legal team, and keeps you from doing anything else until the installation is complete.

Existing customers, however, writing about their experiences, would tell you that really happened to them. You might still decide to buy that enterprise-wide system, but you’d be going into the installation phase with your eyes open. You’d be better prepared. You wouldn’t have that luxury if you had been blind-sided by the copy written by the marketer.

But there is a middle ground, one where the marketer simply tells the truth about what typically happens after the customer signs a contract, or the truth about the way a product is made.

“These shirts tend to run a little large, so you might want to order a smaller size,” the marketer will write, helpfully. (Of course, the marketer has to know this – and that would only happen if the marketer interviewed customers.) Or, “The installation phase can take as long as 6 weeks; here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you move smoothly through the process.”

Marketers can, and are, also turning into managers of user-generated content.
They are making sure that reviews show up wherever their products are sold. Management of this content includes inviting customers to write reviews; filtering out reviews that mention competitors (for a whole lot of reasons) or introduce legal issues; posting the reviews; and sending the reviews out to other platforms.

As with all efforts related to anything remotely social, all this takes a lot of work – but it is work that more and more marketers find themselves doing. Customer-generated content is definitely starting to eclipse company-generated content.

3 Comments

  1. This is a super question. Customers can now learn more about the real-world application and results of a product than ever before. Marketers won’t be able to keep up with the multitude of avenues through which people share their good and bad opinions of a product or service. They don’t have to worry about or rely on the claims of the seller.

    But I think marketing copy will be necessary for many years to come. Of course, it could evolve, but it will still be around. The reason for this is that copy gives potential buyers a starting point to decide if a product is what they’re looking for or not. The copy helps them determine if a product meets their initial screening criteria. Sometimes its feature-laden, sometimes ROI-driven, and plenty of times there’s hype and spin thrown in.

    After that, any third-party endorsements or poor reviews the buyer finds online or elsewhere then serve as aids in selection criteria. This is where they sift between buying this product or that one. And there are so many ways for buyers to research potential purchases before saying Yes that marketers will never be able to keep up.

    But I think that marketing copy will exist indefinitely to “anchor” products and services in potential buyers’ minds and create that starting point as the preferred choice.

    Reply
  2. I agree – at the very least, the technical specs have to be there and the basic product description. But it better be 1) accurate and 2) meaningful. So many times copywriters use vacant, irritating phrases like “limited only by your imagination,” and “the best in its class” – before they’ve even said what it is or what it does! Perhaps the real revolution will be the customers dragging copywriters into the real world – where they have to answer real questions.

    Reply
  3. Interesting post,

    Now more than ever we must capture the voice of the buyer and clearly explain, in their voice, how we solve problems for them.
    Buyer attention span is so much shorter and buyers do not desire to play “feature and benefit BINGO” trying to figure out what you do… as I discuss in my blog; you have a minute to win it .

    Copy must clearly explain what your product or service does for your buyer.

    Mark Allen Roberts

    Reply

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