Be Careful and Be Truthful, Says Creative Copywriter

scan of bad adSee that marked up image there? That was an ad in a horse magazine that I cut out and scanned to make a point. Please excuse the sharpie all over it, but I didn’t want to embarrass anyone, so I crossed out the company and product names. (And that big swooshy thing is where I wrote “blog” in big messy letters to remind myself!) No, I don’t want to embarrass anyone. I, as the creative copywriter, want to get you, as the marketer, thinking, that’s all.

This ad is full of promises as a supposed telling of two stories about making lame horses sound again. One story is about a navicular horse (which I have, that’s him nuzzling my cheek last month on a snowy day below…can’t ride him but at least I can get nuzzles from him!). The other is a story about a crippled rescue, which I went through less than a year ago. Both of these stories have happy endings. Both would give me hope…if I thought they were true.

Alvin kissing my cheekBut this ad has no name, city or state attributed to these stories making it utterly totally unbelievable. The company would be better off using real success stories that maybe weren’t so dramatic but at least were true! As marketers and freelance copywriters, we have to be careful not to over promise. But we also have to be truthful.

We are better off telling true stories about our customers–or letting the customers tell their own stories, for that matter–than making stuff up that is misleading!

What would my impression of this company be if I bought their product and assumed the same miracle would happen with my lame horse, that we’d be trotting around the arena once again someday? And then the soundness never came? Would I buy more product from this company? No way! Would I bad mouth them left and right for their empty promises and false hope? Probably.

But if this ad had real stories with real names and real results, and maybe those results weren’t as impressive but still, things got better, and I bought their product, and Alvin got better and wasn’t in chronic pain any more, what would I do then? Buy more product!! And become an evangelist for it too!

Don’t ask your creative copywriter to be so creative she’s telling lies. Be truthful and authentic. It might not get you the quick sales you want, but it will get you the repeat sales you need.



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