Will mocking your prospects increase your sales?

I’ve been subscribing to someone’s email newsletters for a long time, the someone being a person who is widely recognised for his expertise in online marketing. An expert as he is, his newsletters are mostly teasers aimed at motivating the reader to enter deeper into the funnel, and always ending with a call-to-action to purchase a paid training programme, learning materials and what have you. No problem with that (although the constant sizzle without a whiff of the steak might in the end start getting on people’s nerves).

Today’s newsletter tried a new approach. Reverse argumentation is a trick not very often used but can—so I’ve read—produce good results if done right.

So it was no surprise that the headline said “Four reasons NOT to buy…”. No problem with that either, I was curious to know how the story would evolve.

You must have heard that to make someone buy from you, you more or less need to follow the Know–Like–Trust path. I could be overly sensitive, but when the writer suddenly suggests that one of my reasons for not buying his stuff is that I’m so short of money I can’t afford $99, or takes the superior attitude that I must be so deluged with work, miraculously without his help, that I don’t need his humble contribution to my success, I can’t but feel a bit offended.

I had already passed the Know stage. I’ve read his website, accepted good reviews and recommendations about him and begun to think “OK, he seems to know what he’s doing”. That’s why I’ve continued my subscription to his newsletter for a long time.

I had even progressed a bit in the Like department. The guy’s website and his emails seem to imply he doesn’t feel compelled to tout his own genius at every turn, and that he knows his way around words. I quite like his style.

Then I hit a snag with this email.

It’s a bit like he had put up a sign at the start of the path saying “Welcome to the Spring of Marketing Elixir—1 mile”. I’m bouncing happily along the path, liking the scenery and inhaling the wonderful scent of the forest around me. Suddenly, at about the half-mile post, I almost fall into a huge hole. I startle and take a few frightened steps back. What would be my motivation to continue my journey?

It’s been a widely recognised fact for at least about 30 years that in B2B, the seller doesn’t sell, the buyer buys.

I’m the buyer. So let me take my time to buy. There are no shortcuts. And for Pete’s sake, don’t start picking on me halfway through your funnel because I’m not buying fast enough for you. You’ll lose my trust, the final and most crucial element on my path to purchase. Even that $99 is too much if I don’t trust it delivers. As another conversion expert said:

You don’t ever make the reader feel like you’re accusing them of anything.

To come full circle back to the headline, have YOU tried mocking your prospects to increase your sales? Implying that if people don’t buy from you, they must be paupers or idiots? How did it work? How would YOU react to an email like that? Let me know in the comments.

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