Does your content piss people off?

A few days ago, my husband and I were watching an ad for Teleflora. It was your typical Valentine’s Day ad – a woman received flowers at work – but they were brown and wilted. She was obviously disappointed. The lesson: If you don’t purchase your flowers from Teleflora, the love of your life may question how much you really care.

The ad made my husband angry. First, he said, why are all Valentine’s Day ads targeted towards men? Why aren’t there any targeted towards women? After all, they buy Valentine’s Day gifts too (good point.)

But what made him the most angry was what he felt was the subtext of the ad. In his words, “OK, so I’m a tool if I don’t send flowers – and I’m even more of a tool if I send flowers and they aren’t the right kind. Men can’t win.”

(Fair disclosure: My wonderful husband celebrates Valentine’s Day 365 days a year. His ad resistance had everything to do with the messaging, and nothing to do with the concept of celebrating your beloved.)

When you’re writing copy, it’s so important to consider how the target audience will feel about your content. On the surface, the Teleflora ad was probably seen as witty and original. But since the target audience is men – and men are getting told yet again that their gifts had better measure up on Valentine’s Day – how effective was this ad, anyway?

This is especially important if you’re writing copy about “touchier” subjects. For instance, think of people who need high-risk car insurance and SR-22 forms. This population is already facing higher insurance fees, and are dealing with the stigma of needing a SR-22 in order to drive. If you are part of this target audience, would you rather read:

“Accidents, violations = OK!” (The General Car Insurance) or…

“This is auto insurance for people that many insurance companies do not desire to insure or for people that have had a policy cancelled” (High Risk Auto Insurance Ontario.)

You see the difference? The General makes a positive statement (OK!) while the other site reminds the visitor that yes, they did mess up royally.

As I stated in “Do You Know What Your Prospects Are Really Thinking”, your target audience is looking for excuses to NOT buy from you. When you write content that disempowers, embarrasses or freezes prospects with fear, they won’t react well. In fact, the only reaction you may see are huge bounce rates.

The important takeaway from these examples is to always – and I mean always – put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. Ask yourself how you’d feel if you read the copy. Would you feel empowered and positive (OK!) Or would you feel like, no matter what you did, it wouldn’t be good enough (Teleflora.)

Focus on writing copy that’s empowering, exciting and informative. You won’t piss people off – and your site conversions will show it.

(Private note to ProFlowers – your site is still focused around Valentine’s Day – and it’s the 16th of February. Oops!)

3 replies
  1. hannah
    hannah says:

    I believe you are referring to the Teleflora ad not the ProFlowers ad. I’ve seen the ProFlowers ad and it isn’t about wilted flowers. I think this might be the ad you saw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh1FC8Uwg1A

    Either way, I also checked out ProFlowers site and it is offering belated Valentine’s Day products for people that either forgot about the holiday or could not get their order in on time.

    Reply
    • Heather
      Heather says:

      You know, you’re right (and the post has been changed accordingly.) Thanks for including the link to the commercial. I actually heard from a couple other people who privately told me that they were insulted by the ad too – so that’s interesting market research for the folks at Teleflora.

      ProFlowers *just* changed their site – it’s now very “Spring-focused” (and it looks great.) :)

      Reply
  2. Sarah Clachar
    Sarah Clachar says:

    Heather,
    This post is so important. It’s like sometimes people don’t really listen to their prospects or spend the time to research them.

    Take the time. Lurk on forums. Just sit still and imagine your prospect for a bit and think – will this really speak to them?

    I wrote a similar post addressing health marketers because I see this all the time in this niche:

    http://blog.healthymarketingideas.com/2010/09/the-wrong-assumption-in-your-direct-response-copwriting-can-push-your-prospect-away-rather-than-pull-them-in/

    Glad to see the reminder!

    Reply

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