Dissolve Skepticism Like Magic

magic.jpgThe Story: Let's assume you're writing your own copy (maybe you can't afford to hire a professional, or you just love writing copy for your own products).

One of your first tasks as a copywriter is to break down the skepticism that your prospects (readers, site visitors, subscribers) are feeling, and get them to believe you – even just a little bit.

The Point: How do you break through that skepticism? Testimonials and proof elements.

The Resource: Any late-night infomercial

3 Ways To Use Testimonials or Proof:

1. Add more testimonials.
2. Show photographs (before and after).
3. Show evidence (pictures or screen grabs).

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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • Cheryl Antier


    Okay this was one of your most entertaining podcasts and it is also one of the most relevant for any copywriter or entrepreneur who’s doing his/her own writing.

    I remember reading a couple of other blog posts not too long ago about this very issue. One of them is a friend of yours, Michel Fortin. (Does this thing let me post links?) If so, here’s the post: http://www.michelfortin.com/the-5-elements-of-defense-piercing-multimedia/

    If not, it’s the post about his “SPEAR” formula.

    The second blog I read about the need for copywriters (and anyone who’s doing their own copywriting) was in this post on copyblogger:
    and it talks about social proof and our “herd” mentality.

    With Web 2.0, social proof has become one of the “necessary” elements in any sales process – and if any business is not currently using it, I’m willing to put my neck on the line and say that you soon will be – or you’ll soon be out of business. Because the “old way” of doing business is just so – yesterday.

    And the thing is, it’s just not that difficult to get proof. If you’ve got customers, ask them how you’re doing. Ask them how you could do better. If there’s a problem – fix it. And then ask your customers if they’re satisfied with what you did to resolve the problem. If they are, ask for it in writing.

    Oh, and by the way, I think it’s important to remember that the more information – how your product or service helped your customers, or what happened that led to the customer being unhappy – and then what you did that made them happy again – those are the kind of stories that give you the kind of proof you want.

    A great example of how even something negative happening – and a whole lot of people being upset, frightened and angry – could be reformed and turned into a positive case of proof – is what the Mattel toy company did recently…

  • Tim Adams

    I think testimonials is one of the most misused sales tactics on the web.

    Here’s why…

    Modt sites clump them all together and put a header on it like “Testimonials” or “What Others Say About Us” or whatever.

    Then there they are … all their testimonials in one tidy little bundle.

    I think that diminishes the value and EFFECT of them.

    When you see testimonials your defenses go up. You KNOW you’re going to see all these nice cheery comments about the product or service.

    For max impact, the testimonials should be sprinkled throughout the sales copy so that there isn’t a “Warning: Testimonial Ahead” alarm that goes off.

    And if you can match up a specific testimonial with a specific benefit you just mentioned in the sales letter … all the better.

    What you’ve now done is just reinforced that benefit, assured them that it’s true and can happen for them too, all while keeping their defenses at a minimum.

    • Ed Erickson

      This is a great point Tim. Let them be like the person who suddenly speaks up to testify on your behalf about how much you helped them right when you’re making a specific point.

      However, I don’t really see testimonials as a BS marker layed out just to convince me. I really do look for them. I want to hear what others say. Depending on who they are, I can take with a grain of salt.

  • Cheryl Antier

    Tim, I think you make an excellent point here – especially because consumers have their B.S. meters working on overtime as it is when reading sales copy, (just because we’re all bombarded with advertisements all the time).

    Because I think when someone sees a bunch of testimonials all lumped together, it’s about as credible as some guy wearing a chicken suit passing out pieces of “chicken nibble surprise” on a street corner.

    What you said about getting the maximum effectiveness from testimonials is spot on.

  • A great format to present testimonials is in the form of a case study. Be sure to use as much number data facts as possible in your case studies.

  • Duh it was a bit of awake up call for me as I have not really used the testimonial you so kindly gave to me Ray.

    I will remedy that in the near future?


  • Ed Erickson

    If nothing else Ray, it aids greatly in scanability, a major usability point. Testimonials work nicely almost like pull quotes or sidebars on a page. They rest the eyes, increase the amount a person is convinced, and then now rested, let them resume your sales copy.

    Video testimonials are simply awesome. The spoken word and the person speaking greatly enhances the authenticity of the testimonial.

  • I love photographs and screen captures. In a recent test, I added a photo with a caption. It beat my control by 45%. I shared this photo on my blog.

    Testimonials are another fun thing to test. Recently I’ve been testing whether it’s better to display all testimonials on the sales page or just one with a link to the others.

    So far, the results are pretty close, but the long list of testimonials is outpulling the single testimonial.

    I guess you always have to test because another guy has conducted tests in which the single testimonial won by a long shot. (Maybe it depends on the one testimonial you display?)