One of the most commonly written pieces of advice on copywriting is not to use “hype” in your message.
Ask any successful copywriter their opinion on whether it’s a good idea to use a lot of hype in your sales copy, their answer will invariably be “no.”
And yet, in spite of this, you can look all over the internet and find plenty of sales pages that appear to be full of hype.
Even more perplexing is the fact that a lot of these pages have been written by the same “elite” copywriters who will tell you not to use hype in your sales copy.
So, what’s going on here?
Before I try to explain why a lot of copywriters use hype while counselling their readers not to do the same, I am going to try to explain exactly what hype is. Most people probably feel they know the definition of the word hype; but if you look closely, you’ll see that this term is misused pretty frequently, even by fairly smart people.
I would propose the following as a pretty adequate definition of hype:
“Hype is any promotional tactic that uses dramatic language, images or sounds to stimulate interest in a product or service.”
I realize that this is a fairly narrow definition of the term, and that hype can be used for a variety of purposes outside of promoting a product or service. However, since we’re talking about sales copywriting here, this definition will suffice.
Now, I’m going to return to this definition in just a minute. But before I do, I want clarify an important distinction that every good copywriter understands: the distinction between a cold campaign and a warm campaign.
As anyone in sales knows, approaching a prospect cold means approaching them without any prior introduction, while approaching a prospect warm means approaching them after having sold them something in the past. The same applies in copywriting: somebody who has purchased from you before is a “warm” sell, while someone who hasn’t, is a “cold” sell.
However, beyond this basic distinction, I think you can further speak of “degrees” of cold and warm sells in copywriting. Just for convenience’s sake, I’ll use a four level hierarchy to illustrate this concept:
The Four Degrees Of Selling
1. Cold selling. Selling to someone you’ve never sold to before. Someone who reads your landing page for the first time is a cold sell.
2. “Lukewarm” selling. Selling to someone who has never bought from you before, but who has expressed some interest in the past. Someone who has opted in to your life is a “lukewarm” sell.
3. Warm selling. Selling to someone you’ve sold to before.
4. “Hot” selling. Selling to somebody who you’ve not only sold to before, but who is also an active and avid fan of your material. An active poster on your business message board who owns all your products and subscribes to your message board is a “hot” sale.
How The “Four Degrees” Apply To The Topic of Hype
The reason I brought up this distinction between cold and warm selling, and laid out different levels of each, is because the these distinctions have some bearing on when it is appropriate to use hype in your copy.
While, as a general rule, it is inappropriate to use hype, it depends on the type of audience you’re writing for. If you’re writing copy for an audience made up of people who have mostly never read any of your material before, using a “hypey” tone is a clear mistake. The same is generally true for audience of people who are vaguely familiar with your material (“warm” prospects.)
If, however, you operate an active forum or blog community with enthusiastic and dedicated followers who routinely purchase your products, it can be an effective tactic to use a certain amount of hype in the lead up to a launch.
For example, if you operate a forum with 5000 active members, 40% or more of whom have purchased several of your products, you could have a certain amount of success building up a big launch as a “revolutionary” or “paradigm shifting” addition to your product line, provided you take the time to explain what exactly you’re going to be introducing that is so revolutionary. You could write a series of posts on your forum, over a period of months, where you talk about how you’ve been testing out your new product and getting results that blow all your old products out of the water, or release a series of videos that talk about how “groundbreaking” your new product is. If you do this, though, make sure you actually follow up with a product that brings legitimate innovations; otherwise, you risk fiving your loyal fans a serious case of buyer’s remorse.