Using humor in sales copy is OK. But I'd have done it this-a-way...April 1st, 2011 9 Comments
I stumbled upon this page today. Here’s a screenshot of it:
I hated it. Maybe I just need another coffee, but I found myself switching off in the first sentence.
What’s wrong with it?
There are quite a few things wrong here, and I’ll touch on a few of them, but the thing I want to focus on most, is the humor. Don’t get me wrong, I like that they tried to use humor. I even like the brand of humor they used. But I think their execution is getting in the way of the message.
Although the humor doesn’t rear its head in the headline, for structure’s sake, I’ll start there, and work my way down.
Using Welcome in the headline is bad. People either feel welcome or they don’t. Explicitly welcoming them is pointless, and a waste of your most valuable real estate: your headline.
Although, in this case, the value of that real estate is severely undermined by the fact that it’s centered. And the same size and font as the rest of the copy, just bolded. Remember the F-shaped pattern people’s eyes (mostly) follow when they first come to a website?
F-shaped pattern readers use to scan a page (from Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)
What are they gonna see first here? Blank space!
Now for the humor
If you know me at all, you know I love random humor. (Take the 404 page I wrote for Silver Pistol, for example. Or its meta tags…) But in the absence of a headline, leading with irrelevant humor leaves the reader without any meaning whatsoever. They’re completely dislocated.
Also, to me, the implementation of the humor, the wording of the sentences, is off. I like what they’re trying to do, but I think they missed it. The sentences are long and clunky. They lack rhythm and punch.
How I’d have written it
Assuming they’re saying the right things about their offering and its benefits (I don’t have time to think about whether that’s the case), here’s how I would have written it.
Below wholesale! Grab a bargain on our most popular stock
The ‘Bargain Bin’ is where you’ll find unbeatable prices on some of our most popular items. We buy them up in ridiculous quantities, then sell them off below wholesale! (Not to be confused with the ‘Smelly Bin of Crap’ other stores roll out when they can’t sell their rubbish at full price!)
You already know us as the ‘bargain blokes’, but this is even better. We’ve beaten even our own prices!
Take a look below at the unbeatable deals in the Bargain Bin today…
Some notes on what I did
- I changed the headline so the first words you see are “Below wholesale”. I front-loaded the headline with the most important meaning words, so they can’t be missed. (The first 2 words are what people pay most attention to when they scan.)
- In the headline, I turned the bargain bin from something possessed by the shop (“OUR Bargain E-BIN”), into something readers could profit from. And I used the active voice: “Grab a bargain”.
- I added context to the headline, so people know what the page is about: “our most popular stock”.
- I changed “E-Bin” to “Bin” because people trust what they know, and easy = true (“Bargain E-Bin” is too hard to read).
- I described the bin clearly in the first and second sentences.
- Then I put the first bit of humor in brackets, so people know they don’t have to read it, but people who want to, still can.
- I made the ‘smelly’ sentence easier to read, and gave the crap bin a name to reinforce the humor.
- I kept “bloke” because that’s a word that resonates with the audience. But I fixed the conflict between the plural “we” and the singular “bloke”. (Man! That was a bad sentence: “You already know that we are the best value for money bloke around and well, WOW.”)
- And I threw away the last line in favor of a call to action.
Humor can help, but it’s getting in the way here. Not because it’s inappropriate, but because it’s poorly executed. The site owner is fostering a relaxed, ‘you can trust us, we’re like you’ relationship. The writing needs a little work, that’s all.
What do you think? Please comment.
Please comment below with your thoughts. I'm not so old a dog that I can't learn a few new tricks!