Which Old Tricks Fall Short in a New Copy Landscape
The online marketing landscape is constantly changing.
Just because something worked 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year…doesn’t mean it will work today.
Nowhere is this more true than the world of launch copywriting.
The harsh reality is that that old bag of tricks doesn’t work today. Audiences are becoming smarter, more jaded, and more overwhelmed.
And when you use old marketing best practices in new copy, you may actually be doing more harm than good.
Here’s the thing:
Your audience has seen the traditional marketing playbook. And their B.S. meter is at an all-time high.
So when you use old marketing best practices, they can easily sniff it out.
It’s like when millennials try to catch up on the latest Gen Z fad.
When they post a TikTok video doing a dance that went viral six months ago, they don’t seem cool and hip.
They look old and like they’re desperately trying to relate to today’s youth.
Hi, I’m Brittany McBean.
I’m a launch strategist and copywriter by day, toddler wrangler by night (My daughter Norah does more zoomies than a puppy at a dog park).
I’ve built a premium multiple six-figure copywriting business in less than two years. I also write launches all day erry day…which means I get to keep my finger on the pulse and really see what’s working and what is shifting.
The whole know, like, trust factor is pretty important when it comes to getting people to buy from you.
And when they feel like they’re being tricked or duped, you miss out on that trust.
A big part of having them trust you is marketing and launching in a way that is honest, fair, and respects their intelligence.
So today I want to give you a quick and dirty list of things you’ve probably been told to do that aren’t serving your launches anymore.
I’ll tell you what launch strategies you can leave behind and what you should be doing to have ethical, high-converting launches.
Want the TLDR version of this? Head to my YouTube channel to check out my video on this exact topic.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #1: The Countdown Timer
The first thing you want to start rethinking is the countdown timer.
Yannow…the doomsday clock at the top of your sales page that takes people from a place of calm cool collectedness to stress-induced panic?
For someone like me (who is already prone to anxiety), watching seconds tick down on a clock doesn’t help me make a decision. It makes me want to cuddle up in the corner and shut down.
When people are influenced by countdown timers, it’s likely that they make a decision based on stress and not out of certainty in an offer.
Do I think you need to completely eliminate countdown timers? Nope.
People do need to know when an offer ends. But they don’t need to feel like they’re diffusing a bomb as they watch precious seconds tick away.
It’s much better to give them the closing date ahead of time, like in your launch emails. Or to gently remind them of the date using a pop-up box or in a bar.
And if you do use a countdown timer, there’s no need to show the deadline down to the very second.
You want to empower your reader to make the best decision for themselves. But they don’t have to have a blinking timer in their face 24/7.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #2: Value Stacking
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been told to…
📝 Add a bunch of bonuses to your offer
📝 Throw everything in the kitchen sink and package it together
📝 Add an arbitrary number to the price to add value
All so that you can mark down your offer from some outrageous number like $35,000 for the low, low price of $3997.
Here’s the problem with value stacking:
People don’t see that number and think “wow, I’m getting a great deal!”
They call B.S.
Don’t make up values for the sake of making up values. You should only put a value on something that you actually have for sale.
If you have a bonus that’s also a product with a legitimate price tag, feel free to include it. (Like a $497 mini-course or a $300 one-on-one consultation.)
But don’t go overboard because people are not going to believe in a crazy high value being sold for a crazy low price.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #3: Price Anchoring
Good ol’ price anchoring.
If it works for Walmart, it’s got to work for me, right?
With apologies to everyday low prices headquarters, price anchoring isn’t always a good strategy.
We’ve been taught that putting up a couple of prices around the offer makes one price look more attractive.
So if there’s a higher price they’ll get sticker shock and go for the lower price.
But when someone sees a lower price, they might be skeptical of that price and perceive it as providing less value.
And worse, when you put different prices and values out there juuust to make one price look sexier…that is trickery. It’s taking away their agency.
You can offer payment plans to make something more accessible.
But price anchoring can be unethical and it cost you big time.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #4: Pain Agitating
You’ve probably heard the classic copywriting formula PAS: Pain, Agitation, Solution.
It goes something like this:
- State the problem
- Agitate the problem
- Introduce the solution
The mistake that many copywriters make is in step 2.
Because in step 2, there is inherent knife twisting.
You want the reader to know that you really understand their pain and what’s going on in their world.
But sometimes, you stick the knife a little too deep. And that can be a fatal mistake.
The goal isn’t to make your reader feel like shit until they buy.
So I’m going to tell you to cut out the knife twisting.
Instead, call out their problem with the goal of letting them know you see them right where they are. Any agitating you do should just be describing the pain in that slice-of-life moment.
Honestly, making someone feel seen, heard, known, and understood works way better than making them feel like garbage anyway.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #5: Adding The Poor Tax
I love a good payment plan.
It can make an offer more accessible (because people may not be able to afford a lump sum payment.) And it definitely increases conversions.
Done right, a payment plan can also increase student trust and success.
But when you add a poor tax, you punish your buyers for not being able to afford that lump sum payment.
The poor tax is what we call the interest added to the payment plan.
Now, this is a grey area.
If you serve thousands of students where you are likely to have people default into collections, this tax can help your retention rate.
And if you spend a lot of time chasing down defaulted payments, it can mean money out of your pocket.
But in general, I would encourage you to stop adding the poor tax.
You don’t want to exclude potential buyers just because they can’t afford a one-time payment.
If you do have a high default right, look into why that might be.
I usually go with a full pay and a three-pay option or a full pay and a six pay.
See if you can limit it to one or two options and maybe introduce a payment plan on the last day as a cart close bonus.
You get to decide what aligns with the way you do business. But I encourage you to find some other opportunities to optimize your offer rather than adding interest and chasing down defaulted payments.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #6: “You Can’t Afford Not To!”
This might be my least favorite best practice.
It’s manipulative, dishonest, and downright dirty.
In the bottom of the FAQ section of a sales page, launch copywriters typically include a “What if I can’t afford this?” question.
And, instead of giving a real honest answer, they’ll write some variation of “you can’t afford not to.”
I have a big problem with this.
For many people, being able to afford something is a very real circumstance.
It’s not a limiting belief you need to reframe.
Some people have fewer resources and access to resources than others. That’s a fact.
Your job as a copywriter is to help someone decide if they can legitimately buy something. It’s not to sell at all costs and put someone in a circumstance where they buy something they can’t afford.
Speak truthfully to the person who can’t afford you yet. Maybe they can afford you someday. But you don’t want them to take out a new credit card or go into debt just so you can make another sale.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #7: False Scarcity
Let’s have some real talk about scarcity for a minute.
Yes, it does increase conversions.
Yes, sometimes scarcity is very real.
And, in those situations, you should let people know if there are a limited number of seats. Give ‘em the facts.
But don’t drum up some false scarcity for your interests.
Like when you say “the doors are closing” to an evergreen program.
Or when you say “last chance to buy at this price” even though you have no plans of changing your rates.
Not only is it unethical…but people are smart.
And when they figure out that you’ve created false scarcity, you probably won’t be getting their business.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #8: The Stealthy Sneak Attack
Want to build excitement around your launch?
As launch day approaches, you should start seeding your offer early and often.
But many launch copywriters will hint that “something big is coming”…without giving their readers even the slightest clue as to what that is.
I call this the stealthy sneak attack (named after Norah’s post-nap takedowns).
It’s hard to build excitement around an offer when you don’t give out any details about the offer.
So when you say something is going to be available soon…
But you don’t say what it is, what it’s about, or what the price is…there’s no reason for your readers to care.
You don’t have to give them everything.
But when you let them know what’s coming up, what the transformation is, what the price is…
People start to feel like they can listen to what you’re offering.
Think of it like marketing a movie.
Sure, you could just release the poster.
But who doesn’t love a good movie trailer?
Let people know what you’ve got going on so they can decide if they want to engage or if it isn’t right for them.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #9: The A-List Testimonial
Have you ever watched a really bad infomercial?
Like the ones for a magical pill that promises to shed 60 pounds and grow washboard abs overnight?
Nobody in their right mind believes them (which is why they place them at 3 a.m. when their only audience is college students and sleep-deprived moms).
Because nobody would expect those to be typical results.
It’s the same with your testimonials.
Sure, you may have had an all-star student that absolutely crushed it inside your membership.
And you should absolutely let people know what is possible.
But when you only include the super-sexy testimonials, it creates mistrust.
Your readers might wonder if you’re paying this person, if they’re an actor, or if they’re just your cousin Greg doing you a favor.
You want your readers to know that testimonials are real so you can increase your credibility. So it makes sense to include a range of outcomes.
So don’t be afraid to share more average results. Sprinkle in social proof so that people can see the range of what’s possible…not just the extreme success stories.
They’ll trust you more, they’ll see themselves in the average, and they’ll feel empowered to see the quickest viable win.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #10: Burying the Opt-Out
Have you ever had trouble unsubscribing from emails?
When you have to scroll to the very bottom of the email to find that super small unsubscribe link buried beneath a mountain of text.
It’s right up there with spam phone calls in the list of annoying modern inconveniences (if anyone knows how to successfully block those spammers, holler at yo’ girl).
If buried opt-out links are annoying to you, imagine how annoying is it for your readers.
So instead of burying your opt-out (or excluding them altogether), I encourage you to put it front and center.
It can be as simple as a little link with a message that says “if you don’t want to receive information about this offer, click this button.”
You can opt them out of the launch and keep them on your list.
This way, you’re not making people angry or annoyed. And you’re not wasting your time chasing down leads that have no interest in buying your offer. Win-win.
When you include your opt-out front and center, you keep the people who want to know your offer reading…and you get people to really appreciate the opportunity to not have their inbox slammed with something that isn’t right for them.
Launch Copywriter Best Practice #11: FOMO Overload
Last, but not least, is FOMO.
The fear of missing out.
With apologies to YOLO…
This is THE acronym from the 2010s that’s stuck around in the cultural zeitgeist.
We’ve been taught to sprinkle in FOMO like a firehose all throughout our launches. Especially at the end of the launch close to cart close.
But here’s the thing:
Studies show that people who feel more pressured to take action are less likely to do so.
Think about teenagers.
(I don’t have a teenager, but Norah can be just as snarky as a recently grounded 15-year old…especially when I turn down her request for more Goldfish.)
When I was a teen, if my parents said to do something…that was the last thing I would be caught doing.
But when I had autonomy to do something, I usually made the right choice.
It’s the same with launches.
People all have that rebellious teenager somewhere inside them. And when they’re told to do something right now, they’re likely to do the opposite.
I encourage you to give people the time and space they need to make a calm, confident decision.
Instead of going all in on FOMO, go all in on autonomy.
If you say something like maybe it’s not right for you this time, your reader gets to think from a place of calm confidence.
They get to think “maybe I don’t want to wait six months for that transformation. I actually want it right now.”
So dial back the FOMO and dial up the autonomy to let them make the decision that’s best for themselves. And have a little faith that they will come to the right conclusion.
Marketing Best Practices for a Launch Copywriter
Just because something worked in the past, doesn’t mean it works now.
And there are many, many things that we used to do in marketing (and in society while we’re at it) that just feel icky now.
While that’s not an exhaustive list, that should help you create launch copy that’s written for the modern audience. So that you can move forward with ethical marketing that’s more honest and transparent.