Everything that’s good in the world has its fair share of downsides. Copywriting is often seen as a positive practice, but it too has its flaws. If you’re in the business of copywriting or are thinking of hiring someone for it, you might wonder why copywriting can be a bad thing.
Copywriting is bad because it is manipulative, and it is limited to its medium. It is also often overlooked, so unskilled writers can get away with subpar work. Sometimes copywriters are also limited creatively. Copywriting can be used to lie or “spin” stories as well, so it’s important to be aware.
Are you considering a career in copywriting and wondering if it is bad? In this post, we discuss why copywriting can be used for evil (or at least not for good). Keep reading to find out some of the pitfalls of this practice.
4 Major Downsides Of Copywriting
Even though copywriting is a great skill, it can be destructive to both the consumer and the copywriter if it’s in the wrong hands.
Below are some evils that copywriting can bring about.
1. It Can Be Used To Coerce And Manipulate Buyers
In order for any business to survive, it must bring in sales all year long. Without these sales, any business will find itself at the verge of closing its doors.
To further aggravate the problem, many customers don’t know what they want or they haven’t made up their minds yet.
Effective copywriting is crucial to persuade customers to buy and generate a steady stream of sales.
The best copywriters know how to persuade their customers emotionally.
But like any other great power out there, emotional manipulation can be used for the wrong purposes.
It can be acceptable to appeal to the emotions of your audience if you’re trying to sell something that you actually believe in.
But unfortunately, unscrupulous sellers sometimes use emotional manipulation to sell low-value products that don’t provide any real benefits.
Some copywriters have also mastered the art of telling half-truths.
Maybe they don’t outright lie about their product, but they find ways to gloss over its issues while falsely emphasizing its good qualities.
Copywriting becomes bad when marketers and copywriters use buyers’ psychology to get them to buy something they do not need.
Let’s look at some forms of manipulative selling you may have seen all over the web.
a. Creating A False Sense Of Urgency And Scarcity
It is fine to give readers a finite time limit to grab your offer. After all, a lot of discounts only last for a specific time period.
For instance, if you are running a program where you can only handle 15 people at a time, keeping a countdown of the number of spots left is okay.
However, a common copywriting practice involves a false sense of urgency.
They might say that a product is only available for a limited time, while it actually sticks around on their page for months after the “expiration” date has passed.
If you’re a copywriter yourself, make sure that you tell the truth when it comes to deadlines and limited products.
An example of copy meant to portray scarcity is “This is the only course that gives you the tricks you need to succeed.
You will not find this information anywhere else”. The fact that the product has a countdown and is not available elsewhere makes the reader feel panicky and trapped.
b. Dark Nudges
Giving the reader a gentle nudge has been proven to push the reader closer to conversion.
With such great power, copywriters can use nudging for good or bad purposes. Dark nudges are offers that do not have the user’s best interest in mind.
As a result, copywriters can use them nefariously to trick readers into taking actions or purchases that do not add value to their lives.
For instance, some people use confirmation shaming to manipulate readers to take their desired action.
Picture a website pop-up with an offer that you can only get if you subscribe to the mailing list. If a person is not interested, they will decline the offer.
However, to decline, they must click on a button that reads, “I DON’T want to purchase this offer and become SUCCESSFUL.”
The result of such nudges? The reader will feel inferior because they turned down the offer.
These feelings of inferiority and guilt may push a buyer to take a step, but the product may not benefit them in the long run because they bought it out of shame.
c. Charm Pricing
Psychology suggests that the human brain ignores the initial digits of a number but focuses on the last ones.
For instance, the price of $297 looks much cheaper than $300. So, a person buying such a product may feel like they spent $200 instead of $300.
You often see this in stores because they tack on 99 cents instead of rounding it up to a full dollar.
This vanity pricing is a common copywriting trick used to manipulate buyers into thinking they are actually getting cheaper deals when they aren’t.
Although it may help a business get some sales, it is not okay to trick someone into spending an amount they normally wouldn’t.
Most customers appreciate the honesty of a real price, not a slightly rounded-down one.
2. Copywriting Is Limited To Its Medium
In-person sales give salespeople a chance to address prospects face to face and convince them to buy.
However, this is not the case with copywriting. It’s an entirely written medium, so it cannot convey tone or adapt to the needs of a customer.
While a salesperson may move around to meet their customers, written words cannot move to where the customer is.
It is the customer’s job to search for the product and read the attached copy. Therefore, if copy is poorly written, no sales will be made.
Additionally, the message is faceless as compared to a real person delivering a message.
Subsequently, the impact made by written words cannot compare to a one-on-one discussion.
3. Copywriters Are Prone To Creative Limitations
Crafting effective copy takes a lot of work and creativity. Each copy needs a fresh idea to help it stand out from the competition.
If you’re a copywriter, your creative ideas may not always get accepted. Some companies may want to keep their usual slant, so you’ll be forced to conform.
As a result, copywriters’ ideas have become suppressed and bland. Copywriting is bad if it cannot stand out in the market.
4. Copywriting Is Highly Unregulated
Although copywriting is a valuable skill, it is often overlooked. As a result, few companies appreciate its benefits and will pay for professional copy.
Similarly, the number of people who are highly skilled and truly understand copywriting are rare to find.
There aren’t a lot of ways to become professionally trained for copywriting. It mostly comes from practice and work experience.
Businesses who hire an untrained copywriter may not proof-read their work, and thus will publish copy that’s full of errors and sleazy sales techniques.
When used well, copywriting is a powerful and effective tool that can benefit everyone. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
This skill is often manipulated to help deceitful marketers who have no regard for the consumer.
As a result, copywriting with bad intent hurts unsuspecting consumers who end up buying things they do not need.
The job can also be strenuous, especially if a copywriter works with an egoistic client who doesn’t understand the value of good copywriting.
Copywriting is neither good nor bad on its own; it’s all about how you use it.