LIVE FROM THE ANNUAL CATALOG CONFERENCE: Copy Expert Says: Guilt Sells

Chicago–Mothers aren’t the only ones who can use guilt as a motivator. In his “Catalog Copywriting Master Class” here Monday, catalog copy guru and Catalog Age columnist Herschell Gordon Lewis said that guilt-inducing copy is one way to boost sales.

“This is very hard to generate in catalog copy,” Lewis said. “But if you can, you’re going to do very well.” Other motivators include exclusivity, greed, and fear: “It’s the potential fear of loss,” Lewis explained. “Nobody likes to lose.”

During the four-session master class, attendees were shown good and poor examples of both catalog and Website copy. And Lewis was determined to send each attendee back to the office applying the rules and principles that make catalog copy effective, powerful, and dynamic.

Among Lewis’s tips:

* Use the active voice rather than the passive voice.

* Provide readers with evidence of an immediate benefit. “It’s the world we live in,” Lewis said. “People want immediate.”

* Take advantage of the power of the phrase “last chance.” Said Lewis, “Even if it’s their first chance, customers like to feel like this is their last chance.”

* Appeal to people’s desire to be trendsetters: “Customers like to feel like they’re one of the first, if not the first,” he noted.

“There is no mystery to writing effective catalog copy,” Lewis said. “The only mystery is that so many people pay no attention to it. Even the giants stumble.”

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