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How copywriting can turn $13 into $39.90

I saw an amazingly awful ad in one of those coupon circulars in the newspaper recently. It’s so shameless that I couldn’t help be impressed. Let’s pick it apart!
Presidential Dollars coin ad

Look at all the persuasive language:

Urgency! “Collector alert! Mintage slashed! Circulation cancelled! … You must act now!”

Patriotism! “Beloved early issues like Washington and Lincoln…”

More urgency! “Collectors are scrambling… act now!”

Quality! “… a sealed Collector Roll of twelve gem-brilliant, never-circulated specimens… A stunning Bonus Coin in its own protective capsule…”

Value! “Attractively priced… no additional charge…”

Scarcity! “Subject only to possible adjustment for market conditions…”

* * * *

By the end of the ad, I have so many reasons to buy the product, I can hardly resist pulling out the credit card…

… to pay $39.90 for 13 literal dollars!

The value of 13 one-dollar coins is $13. But every word in this ad is designed to make you spend triple their value to get them.

I hate the cynicism and dishonesty that permeates this ad. But when you think about it, this deplorable ad is just a gross exaggeration of what good copywriters do every day.

We use persuasive language to maximize the value of whatever it is we’re explaining to our audience. We want people to feel good about paying for a product or service, so we give them reasons.

This could be a fun exercise for a writing workshop: Write an ad that convinces somebody to buy a dollar for $3.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising

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