by Brittany Ferrera, Customer Success & Marketing Manager at Communications Edge Inc

You probably believe sending helpful content to prospects is an effective conversation-starting tactic. Right? Adding value in sales emails, making deposits before withdrawing.

Nope. In most cases it's not.

Even when information is useful and relevant, offering -- without being asked to -- will cost you.

Instead, break the patterns customers are used to seeing. Stop being empathetic, asking for meetings, positioning to be credible, using calls to action.

All of that. Flush it. That's marketing copy.

Instead, help customers feel an urge to request your knowledge. We know curiosity starts more conversations.

Better conversations. Consistently.

Because curiosity leverages human instinct.

The problem with 'giving to get' (adding value)

"Give to get" sounds good. But is it the best sales email tactic? Does it generate enough meetings?

Increasingly, no.

Here's why: It's basic behavioral psychology.

Human beings value more what we ask for, less what is offered freely.

The more people offer it, the less we want it. It's human nature.

Consider: The more the man or woman you want... wants you... and shows you... the less you tend to want them.

They make deposits. Complement you. Offer words they believe you prefer to hear. But you become less interested.

Now flip it.

The less the person (you want) wants you... the more you want them.

It's a proven, everlasting concept which exceptional communicators know how to apply.

Help the customer want to be helped -- THEN help. They'll value your offer more... and want to talk more. 

Because it was THEIR idea.

Awareness of this is the game-changer

In our community's experience, knowing the difference between sales and marketing copywriting when writing sales emails can be a game-changer. 

We meet baffled sellers who don’t understand why email messages, voicemails and call scripts aren’t starting enough conversations with prospects. When we view their messages we find the reason why.

They consistently write like marketers.

Outbound messages to prospects aren’t sales emails at all. They are poorly crafted marketing messages. 

There’s a difference. 

Marketing copywriting often involves sending:

  • Canned, standardized email templates
  • Messages talking about what you’re selling, value proposition, benefits
  • Current promotions offered

Beware of also including marketing tactics like:

  • Calls to action
  • Focusing on “what’s in it for the buyer”  
  • Trust, persuasion and credibility tactics  
  • Adjectives and adverb over-use
  • Adding value in each message
  • "Fear of missing out” FOMO

It’s possible you are using marketing copywriting when you really need to be using sales copywriting. It’s not your fault. Conventional tactics and belief systems (mindsets) are marketing based -- getting the prospects to come to you by providing value and staying in front of them. 

Turns out, most sellers aren’t provoking clients’ curiosity using sales emails. They’re pushing marketing emails that create an unwanted effect on the potential buyer.

If you are using marketing (rather than sales) copywriting you’re probably not starting enough conversations.

The difference between marketing and sales emails

Outcomes are the biggest difference between sales and marketing copywriting. 

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) versus conversations, meetings.

Marketing copy nurtures potential customers. When applied in a sales context, it usually produces suspicious, reluctant leads for products or services.

We’re all suspicious of being persuaded. With a few exceptions, we know most “education” coming from sellers is teeing up a sale. Average marketing copywriting and content marketing often delivers a lot of tire-kickers. 

In comparison, sales copy provokes conversations with decision-makers or influencers. It creates curiosity and is based on an authentic provocation. 

It has to be. Otherwise it’s ineffective.

Also, the recipient’s context is also radically different.  Put simply:

  • Cold sales email messages are aimed at prospects you found that never agreed to receive email messages, nor previously expressed interest in your product or service.
  • Marketing messages are sent to people who found you… who give permission to receive information from you; they typically educate and may present benefits if they become a customer. These leads are usually customers who are not yet ready to buy from you. But likely will be.

This simple distinction is the reason why sales emails often fail at earning response. The “way you write” is based on the wrong context. Your mindset is misguided.

Sales copywriting is used in cold outreach to prospects who don’t know you.

Marketing copywriting is used to educate and, eventually, persuade people who have “raised a hand” and elected to be educated, “warmed up,” etc.

So, even if marketing emails are not pushy, they’re mostly meant to keep your company in front of potential customers. So when customers are ready to purchase they think of you first.

In comparison, sales copywriting’s purpose is to start a discussion with prospects. 

For a comprehensive way to reprogram your thinking (and behavior) join us in this upcoming online class.

Two distinct contexts

A marketer’s job is to get the word out and persuade customers to consider buying.

The salesperson’s job is to start conversations, qualify and problem-solve.  

Big difference!  

What does this translate to? The psychological effect on readers and outcomes produced for sellers.

Marketing copy (in sales messages) tends to make you:

  • Look like a needy beggar due to weak words & tactics
  • Smell like a marketer due to persuasive tone, over-use of adjectives/adverbs and “hooks”(we’re all becoming very good at avoiding these messages)
  • Sound like a hyperbolic marketer rather than a provocative problem-solver or servant leader
  • Look lazy (relying on templates) and cut-and-pasted, impersonal messages

The goal of a sales email, with strong sales copywriting, should be conversations started and responses.

Not open and click through rates (KPIs).

Every day, the first thing Brittany does when she gets to her phone is check her emails. She has multiple email accounts, so she has to filter through all of them.

Usually, she has about 55 emails, give or take, and 54 of those 55 are typically emails that she immediately deletes because they’re emails like:  “Buy today, take 10% off!”  “Are you there, Brittany?  We have deals!”  “What could possibly be keeping you from buying our awesome, wonderful, amazing product that you absolutely have no interest in buying right now?!”  Okay, that last subject line we made up, but you get the point. 

They’re the emails that most people consider spam.  OR they keep them in their inbox and continuously delete them until that one day they need to buy dog food or jewelry, so they can dig through their recent emails and see if there are any sales that your company is offering.

Sound familiar?  

Let sales email copywriting serve you

People value more what they ask for. They value less what you freely offer. Instinctively. 
Sales copywriting helps you create curiosity in customers… so they ask for more clarity and/or the meeting. 

Marketing copywriting is useful later in the qualification process… where the customer qualifies your offering. Offered too early, it can get in the way of provoking conversations. 

Because trying to force trust, appear credible, discussing benefits, asking for meetings right away… these are all pushing tactics. “Talking at” tactics.

Instead, sales copywriting pulls. Attracts. 

Think about it like dating. If you sit there and talk too much about yourself--provide valuable content they need to decide if they want to go out again--guess what? 

You didn’t provide space for the other person to get curious. You’ll get a “no decision” basically. You’ve given away too much. 

Think about it in your life: You need space to become curious. To be provoked you need less information from the other person. And once you’ve become curious you feel an urge to ask for more information from the other person. You don’t need to be led to it. 

You don’t need to be persuaded. Because you’re persuading yourself!

People are inundated with marketing emails. Some are more interesting than others. Many are “providing value” the subscriber desires (think: “Top 5 yoga tips for the beginning practitioner” or something of that nature).

But do these emails provoke customer conversations? Are they designed to? Do the tactics used within them produce the sales outcomes you’re seeking?

Truth is, marketing copywriting rarely starts conversations with customers -- compared to sales copywriting. Come and learn from the best sales copywriters on the planet. Put what you now know to work! 


About the Author

Brittany Ferrara gives our customers and internal team everything needed to stay focused, on-task, effective and ultimately successful. She gives us an organizational, marketing & customer support edge. Brittany brings seven years of customer service, administrative assisting and marketing experience to us. She is a successful entrepreneur, having operated her own successful venture, Pro-Assist, LLC for five years before joining our team.

Brittany Ferrara

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