I love hypey copy.
Hypey copy is like a fine wine. It has great legs, a fine body, and a rich nose.
Hype excites the emotions, stimulates the buying glands, and ultimately converts better than dull, drab, "only the facts, Ma'am" marcom-style copy.
Marketers and consumers who bemoan the ugliness, the crassness, and the used-car-salesman look and feel of hypey copy are uneducated and uninformed dolts.
All of the above, though mostly true, is a form of hypey copy... of the bad kind.
How to differentiate bad hype from good hype
Hype has many guises or nuances. Unfortunately, hype has become an indiscriminate catchall phrase for any type of copy that anyone objects to, for whatever reason.
Well, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so, too, is hype.
And so, for ease of understanding and with a bow to those who either adore or loathe hype—I will divide hype into two broad categories:
Hype that always converts and hype that rarely will
We've all been exposed to copy that exclaims in absolutely superlative fashion the benefits of an advertised product.
For example, we're constantly bombarded by hypey modifiers screaming best, biggest, fastest, easiest, greatest, amazing, unique, revolutionary... and so forth.
And then there's the army of entertaining and flamboyant similes and metaphors: "so powerful it'll suck the chrome off a trailer hitch" and "faster than a streaker running downfield at the Super Bowl."
And, finally, the ever obligatory and tired "Your income will skyrocket" or "You'll feel like a teenager again."
Of course, those examples stand out as hype primarily because they're easily recognized as less than believable, factual, or authoritative and are, therefore, quickly discounted and ignored by most consumers.
But there's nothing intrinsically wrong with employing such words and phrases to extol a product's virtues
If, indeed, they're accurate descriptions.
Where we run into problems, and where hype gets a black eye, is when hype stands by itself—naked, and exposed to ever-vigilant consumer skepticism.
How to turn bad hype into good hype
Let's say you write the following within an ad (in the headline or body, or as a subhead): "All your wrinkles will miraculously disappear overnight!"
Do you think such a claim will be believed—or, more important, the ad containing it will convert?
Personally, I doubt it.
Even if the rest of the ad were written impeccably—and by impeccably I mean you immediately provide undeniable, authoritative proof confirming that wrinkles will disappear overnight—that claim will still be the rusty nail that blows out the ad's tires.
Of course it might gain your ad a moment's fleeting attention, but the ad itself won't convert, because the remainder of the ad, much less its call to action, probably won't be read.
But now you protest and say: I provided proof—it's true, absolutely true—so why wouldn't it be believed? Why wouldn't it convert?
Well, proof and credibility are essential to any claim in any ad; without it, you clearly have written hype of the bad kind.
But even with proof, if the proof is not "placed" wisely, it'll be ignored—as will be the ad.
The consumer is not an idiot—she's your wife
...to quote David Ogilvy.
Consumers learn quickly—they have to. By one account, the average American is deluged with more than 5,000 advertisements in one form or another every single day.
And, it's probably fair to say, most of those ads are poorly presented in concept, design, or execution.
Hence, the unavoidable consequence: Skepticism and disbelief abound in the marketplace.
And so, although in the past making a claim and immediately following it up with proof may have been a wise, prudent, and necessary tack to take—times have changed.
And marketers must adapt.
No longer do you, as a marketer, have the luxury or the time to prove your claim once you make it.
Avoid the ad-killing claim
...by making it instead an unavoidable conclusion.
Though the following is not an inviolate rule, it's certainly worth testing: Before making any concise and memorable claim to unparalleled excellence, prove it first.
Assemble and present your credentialing elements, your evidence—your entire body of incontrovertible proof—in clear and linear fashion.
Allow your proof to lay the groundwork for what is to come. Create strong and overwhelming direction and momentum.
In other words...
Ambush your customer
When you finally do present your hype—your claim to have the biggest, baddest, best product on the planet—it won't be mistaken for or accused of being hype (of the bad kind).
Rather, it will be seen as a descriptive and accurate statement of the obvious and the proven (hype of the good kind).
And if executed skillfully, your hype will have the added benefit of becoming sustainable and actionable.
And that's the best hype of all—when your customer agrees with, acts on, and even advocates on behalf of what otherwise would have been a wild and unbelievable claim.
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