Why Instructions Fail

A million reasons.

Most notable: people don't read them.

Marketers, take note.

Because if people don't thoroughly and attentively read the instructions that come with something they've already paid for… what makes you think they're going to thoroughly and attentively read your ad?

Something to think about.

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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  • Ray,

    Good point and explains the rationale behind using copy techniques such as the “Double Readership Path”, effective PSs and recaps of the key points (especially the offer).

    As writers, it's natural we fall in love with what we write and assume everyone will be as interested in our elegant copy as we are! The harsh truth (as the great David Garfinkel often points out) is that nobody really wants to read our copy. If we do a good enough job of attracting their attention and promising a meaningful benefit, then they (might) read it.

    The principles of Direct Response Marketing and Copywriting were uncovered at cost in the marketplace. There's a reason why things are done as they are. Worth keeping that in mind before deciding that something “doesn't apply” to a situation.

    Thanks for the post!

    Kevin Francis

    • Thanks for “grokking” me so well, Kevin!

      • Ray, you're welcome…and hey, I learnt a new cool word! I should expand my Heinlein reading beyond “Starship Troopers”.

  • whoissethroach

    This is a very true point. I recently had a client that purchased a marketing system from me that has detailed step by step instructions to set up each feature. They complained to me they couldn't figure it out and it didn't make sense. I then pointed them to the instructional videos that are located in the help section. They instead went to a different section and just didn't follow the simple instructions. So when I met with them this week within just a few minutes I had them up and running and showed them right where things were. Some people need it more than just spelled out or simply are not paying attention. It is important to stop the free for all and take note and attention to what is going on so that we can move forward more effectively and efficiently. Thanks Ray for input and for paying attention.

  • jwellsy

    Ray, you're right. But, the story doesn't end there. People do tend to read instructions only after they have encountered a problem or have developed a fear.

    Answering the question “what makes you think they’re going to thoroughly and attentively read your ad?” will help get inside the targets audiences head. What is that fear or problem that would motivate them to want to read about it.

    The answer can be a point of contact to start building a conversation with.