Towards & Away Language In Sales Copy

I’m in the mood to teach more copy concepts lately, mostly because as much as I know about it, I don’t really teach it all that much. So I decided to change that and impart some wisdom to you guys regarding the nuances of copy, as it is one of my favorite things to play with in the game.

A whole lot of change is taking place in our industry, and the funny thing about change is that usually, as it’s happening, we’re not aware that it’s happening. We only notice it in hindsight when it’s too late.

The Missing Key To Getting Better Customers and Reducing Refunds, Chargebacks, and Complaints.

Being in this game for about 20 years or so, I’ve had this sneak up on me a few times and so this article is about helping you see around the corner so the change doesn’t sneak up on you.

What I’ll open this article with is this:

In terms of change, direct response is largely based on the “response” part.

This is because MOST don’t have large capital reserves to go negative and acquire the customer. So the entire name of the game is measured in ROAS! Can we get that return on that ad spend as fast as possible? AOV over CPA right?

Well, in order to get that instantaneous return on our investment, we have to make claims, more claims, and more claims, all sorts of claims: Direct, indirect, comparison, all kinds of claims.

It’s like a cheat code to the offer owner/copywriter, They let you “skip levels”. And the levels you skip are one time.

Direct response is a short game, while branding and business in general, is a long game. The primary difference between direct response and branding is one of time disparity.

So what direct response excels at is instead of having to wait months or even years to get a return on your investment like branding and most other types of regular businesses, you can get it today.

Well, the only reason you can get that investment back today is that you’re making claims. This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of the big idea, it likes to bring a lot of claims with it.

And you know, these claims do work, they do work until the regulatory boys and girls come in and put an end to it.

I hear a little too much much talk about our good friends at the FTC, FDA, and SEC lately, and see quite a few people getting letters, and others shut down. When in reality, a lot of this can be avoided altogether.

I have a number of members clients and friends who are going through the process of “cleaning up” their copy quite a bit now in order to be compliant, which is a good thing, and this is one thing I shared with them to help them navigate these uncertain times.

The only thing about cleaning up copy is that your CPAs will typically double or triple, and the reason you had to clean up your copy is that you had no choice.

So the purpose of this article is to show you the power of language, and its effects on attracting the right and wrong types of customers and in turn, creating better or worse customers.

I consult with one of the top biz-op companies in the industry, they do $50m / year. Their CMO also worked for another company prior to them that did $30m / year.

When I told them about the concept of away / towards language in copy, he wanted to move all their copy to away copy — because it has the potential to double your business.

So before telling him it’s a bad idea, I asked him a simple question:

“What was the refund rate in your prior company and what is it now?”

The other difference between the two companies is one got an FTC letter, has 30-50% refund rates, their customers hate them, their reputation was tarnished and they basically had to shut down all their offers and rebuild.

The other one didn’t get an FTC letter, has sub 5% refund rates, and their customers can’t stop saying enough good things about them.

What’s the difference?

The difference is, the company that got the FTC letter, had massive refund rates, etc… Used AWAY language in their copy. The other company used TOWARD language in their copy. That’s it.

The difference is subtle, yet massive, think of it as PAIN language, the language that moves from PAIN, and GAIN language, the language that moves to GAIN.

The people who responded to the AWAY copy are:

  • Low emotional states
  • They want to get away from a problem they are facing
  • They do not take responsibility for the problems
  • Have high expectations from your site
  • Not willing to put up with pain so they try to get away from it
  • See pain as a permanent and unbearable to getting what they want
  • Away people are all about getting away from where they are to a space where they no longer feel any type of emotional or physical pain
  • Inpatient
  • Want instant results and if they don’t get them, a lot will request a refund

The problem with them is as they say “Everywhere you go, there you are”. No matter where they end up, there they are.

The people who respond to TOWARDS copy are:

  • High emotional states
  • They want to solve the problem they are facing
  • They take responsibility for their problems
  • The main expectation they have is that it could work if they work
  • Goal-seeking and outcome-oriented (as opposed to pain-fleeing)
  • Willing to put up with enormous amounts of pain in service to attainting a goal
  • Sees pain as temporary and bearable if they get the carrot they can imagine
  • Towards people are all about getting to what they want vs the pain they are in, or might feel on the journey to the goal.
  • Willing to take a level of taking personal responsibility, and control over their lives, and others won’t, thereby being empowered and willing to adapt/change/and take action imperfectly
  • Have a lot of patience
  • Are willing to wait to get the results

Away from copy uses language that gets them AWAY from a problem.

Away from the pain, but it doesn’t have any directionality in terms of towards, and as soon as they FEEL they’ve gotten away from the pain, they stop.

In that process, in order to motivate them, an inaccurate expectation was created and now, instead of wanting to get away from their pain/problem — they want to get away from you because now you are the NEW problem they have, and usually that new problem is the fact that they gave you money, created an expectation (or maybe you did for them), and now there’s a mismatch and they want a refund.

Because of their negative state, they’re apt to complain, leave bad reviews, refund, and really disrupt the energetic field of the company. Basically, they bring everyone down to feel bad for them.

When you have enough of these in your business, massive complaints will ensue and you are fucked. Oh and once done, they do not buy again or make a good long-term customer, they’re like building a house on quicksand.

Now compare that with TOWARD language, These types take responsibility for their actions. They own up to it and want an outcome and tolerate short-term pain in order to get what they want.

They know they have a problem, but don’t blame the world for it, nor do they blame you. They own up to it and tend to take their losses if they buy something, don’t act, and accept it as their fault. The outcome outweighs the pain of buying something even if it didn’t work.

They’re nice, kind and will become good long-term customers. On top of that, they’ll tell others about your products and services.

Examples of TOWARDS Copy

“Here’s how you can feel better in just 3 days by taking this joint supplement”.

“Here’s how you can build a highly profitable online business by learning how to create offers that scale”

Examples of AWAYS Copy

“Here’s how you can instantly stop joint pain without ever having to take another pill again”

“Here’s how you can quit the job you hate, eliminate debt and gain freedom by creating this one thing that only requires you to work 2 hours per day”

These are oversimplified nuances, but basically be aware of what type of language you use in your copy, on your offers, in your email, FB posts, Instagram and everywhere else you pack copy into your messaging. Because it will attract a certain type of person.

You might get LESS towards people with your copy than you would with AWAY, but one towards customers is worth 20-50 away from customers.

The ratio is about 70% away-from from any given market and 30% towards. This is the main disparity between those that make it vs those that don’t. Considering the disparity in complaints, refunds, and chargebacks, it’s a no-brainer.

If you wonder why there are so few companies in direct response that stood the test of time, this is one of the reasons, and I know, because I built way too many offers (more than I can count) using away copy — until I learned the hard way not to.

Oh, and one more thing is kind of important here: Towards/gain people basically ascend themselves as they are driven TOWARDS aka to GAIN. So upsells, back ends, recurring, everything. They are about 100x easier to sell than away / pain people.

The away / pain people you really have to drill in those pains to get to move. Everything I do now is all about getting towards / gaining customers and I think you should too.

If you’re unsure which way your copy leans — towards or away, Does your copy offer to lift someone up out of a hole? (or pain) Or does it invite them to climb up towards a goal above them? The pit or mountain. If it invites them to climb towards the goal is the reason If it helps them out of a pit, its away, (solves a pain). See the difference?

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