By Michael Fortin
In a recently published article, entitled "What's Your Visitor's
UPA?" may have confused some of you. One reader emailed me asking for more information.
Essentially, the article was based on the fact that we think in relative terms. And if your copy doesn't cater to this natural, human propensity, your readers will make assumptions that might not work in your favor.
I call this tendency "UPA," or "unconscious paralleled assumption." It means that people will unconsciously assume there's a parallel between one part and another (or its whole), even if the two are totally unrelated.
For example, you visit a department store and notice that the shelves are dirty, cheap and unprofessional-looking. You will naturally assume, at an unconscious level, that the business behind it or the products it sells are just the same... In other words, dirty, cheap and unprofessional.
In my article, I used an example one of my students pointed out one day in class. He asked: "What's the difference between a tennis ball and a soccer ball?" He continued, "It's not that one is small and the other is big, or that one is yellow and the other is black-and-white, which is what most people will say... The difference is SIZE or COLOR."
Marc, the confused reader, then emailed me with the following:
"I read your latest article with great interest. I understand most of it, except for the point you were trying to make with the chair and table, as well as the point with the tennis ball and a soccer ball. Quite frankly, I've read it over and over again, but I simply don't get it. You seem to be saying that the difference is not their size, it's their size? This makes no sense to me, and whatever the point is that you're trying to make to me is less than obvious. I'm feeling cheated, like I've missed the joke that everyone's howling over. It's leaving me so uncomfortable and baffled that I'm moved to write this inquiry for further explanation."
Here was my answer...
Marc, don't feel cheated because in reality you are proving my student's point. You are thinking in relative terms, which is how most people think. (As a matter of fact, you just did it, yourself, when you said, "I'm feeling cheated, like I've missed the joke that everyone's howling over.")
If I'm describing two different sizes (or colors or whatever), I'm not directly answering your question but merely implying the difference by simply describing two different characteristics. I'm only relating the difference by making a comparison between the two, in other words.
Essentially, by "difference," I want to know WHAT makes them different and not HOW they are different. If I use a comparison, at best responding in such a manner can only imply the difference.
Here's a really simple example. If I asked you what color is the sky, rather than telling me "blue" (which is the direct, logical answer), you'll probably answer with "it's the same color as my car," "it's not red," etc. In other words, you are relating it to something else.
You're thinking in relative terms.
Most of us do. And most of your prospects and visitors do, too. You were baffled, which is the point I tried to make. We think in relative terms. And your copy must work to appeal to this behavior. The last thing you want to do is confuse your prospects. If they are, they'll click away. Fast.
Many websites have copy that only the seller or webmaster understands — content that may be understood by only one segment of the population but is harder for others to understand. So, use comparisons, analogies or metaphors so that the mind can understand what it is being told.
Let's say you sell real estate. You want to convey to your audience the sheer size of a piece of land you're attempting to sell. But if your copy only says "140 acres of land," this is only a logical measurement — the mind may still not grasp the meaning (or the value) of "140 acres."
The reader may ask, "What's the size of 140 acres, anyway?" The mind thinks in pictures, not in numbers. And since it thinks in relative terms, it will try to compare 140 acres to a visual equivalent, which will be difficult.
It will be easier for your reader's mind to relate it to something it already knows and to which it can compare it. For example, if you added to your copy, "140 acres is like 200 football fields back-to-back," your mind will now understand because it can relate it to something it knows.
Here's another example. Instead of, "Skin-So-Soft has a complex, lubricating hydra-dermic formula to reduce the symptoms of skin disorders, like skin sensitivity, eczema and psoriasis," say...
"Skin-So-Soft makes your skin silky smooth and soothes nagging itchiness, lubricates unsightly scaling and relieves pain, which are caused by eczema, psoriasis and sensitive skin. Rub it on, and it's like wrapping your skin with a warm blanket that relieves, protects and replenishes your skin."
The long and short of it is this...
Is your website confusion-proof? Is your copy describing your product to your target market in relative terms? Do you describe your offer with something they can understand, appreciate and visualize?
Since your visitors will make unconscious paralleled assumptions (or "UPAs") with your site or product, you better make them good ones.
What's Your Visitor's UPA?
The psychology behind UPAs (unconscious paralleled assumption) is simply this: it's based on the fear of making bad decisions. Why? Because human nature dictates: we have a tendency to seek out the negative in whatever it is we are considering so to ensure that the decisions we are making are good ones.
I Almost Flunked English But Went On To Make Millions of Dollars Writing Sales Copy
The most important lesson you must remember is this: If you
learn nothing else but the proper use of psychological
principles in writing sales copy, you will always make more
money than you'll ever need.
8 Tips for Writing A
Knock-Em Dead Headline
There are so many elements that play a very important part in every ad, sales letter, brochure or any piece of business communication that you write. And one of the most important elements is the headline.
The headline of your piece will either makes your reader so excited they'll want to read the rest of your ad, letter etc. or it will make them switch off completely.