A common mistake I see in sales copy (aside from the numerous grammatical and other errors that pop up every day) is a failure to describe what’s being offered early on (the “what is it?” problem).
This happens for a variety of reasons, one of which is no confidence in what’s being sold.
As a result, readers are forced to read on until we make the great reveal (at which point they’re long gone due to boredom).
This is the same problem faced by every would-be best-selling author (if the audience doesn’t fall in love with the hero fast, the audience stops caring and leaves).
One cause is self-doubt. We may not believe in the product or the manufacturer so we try to cram as much value in before we dare name the abomination we’re trying to sell.
That problem can also be caused by a bad client. Someone we never really trusted or got on with (or who just makes bad products), so we try to help by skirting around the issue instead of coming clean.
Another reason is that we’re new to copywriting and haven’t yet learned to empathise with the audience we’re writing for (which means we haven’t done the research – you’ll find plenty of information on that in the archives at ScienceOfCopywriting.com).
There’s one other reason the product isn’t mentioned at the start though, and that comes down to Schwartz’ awareness levels. If we’re launching something new to the world with a name no one has heard of, then maybe there’s a good reason for not leading with it.
This is where a story lead comes in. But beware, despite the huge upsurge in story led marketing, telling it like it is will always be the benchmark test.
Even most of the best selling self-help books lead with a “what it is” intro before waffling on with stories to keep us ploughing through the rest of it.
So when in doubt, tell people what you’re selling right from the start, and if you can’t lead with the product name, at least lead with what it does so you hold their interest long enough to let them know why they need it now.