The Damaging Admission--a Persuasive Technique

May 8 21:00 2003 Matthew Cobb Print This Article

We would all like to think that our product or service is ... More ... we would like for others to believe that as well. But no matter what you sell, a drawback ... several) wil

We would all like to think that our product or service
is flawless. More importantly,Guest Posting we would like for others
to believe that as well. But no matter what you sell, a
drawback (sometimes several) will always exist, even if
only in the mind of your reader-prospects. Either way,
you MUST address the issue up front. In fact, if written
properly, "the damaging admission" can actually be used
to your advantage.

Too many times, sales letters attempt to convince
reader-prospects that there's nothing wrong with the
product or service...that it is absolutely perfect. This
kind of hyperbole will actually persuade some people, but
your credibility will suffer with more others. There's
nothing wrong with positioning your product or service to
sound better than the competition, but to position it as
perfect is a huge mistake. Admit your fault(s). Just be
sure to show their real significance (or lack of) in
proportion to the overall purchase.

A damaging admission must be 1) credible and 2) useful.

A damaging admission is only credible if it's real--
no product is perfect, so you shouldn't have to make up a
damaging admission. Work-at-home opportunities are
notorious for poor persuasive techniques, many to this
effect: "Hey, we understand that some people don't want
to make more money. That's okay--this new program isn't
for everyone. It's only for those who want a steady
stream of residual income." That's a ridiculous statement
and it isn't even a real argument. I don't know anyone
who wouldn't like to make more money. Making up a false
negative only hurts your image.

A damaging admission is often used to exclude (or
appear to exclude) potential customers who might be
turned off by the facts related to the admission. This
can be useful for eliminating time-wasting "tire kickers."

For example, if your product is expensive (but not
prohibitively so for your target audience) then say so up
front. Explain that the price is high, but that quality,
customer service, etc., makes up for the price and even
saves money over the life of the product. This will
exclude many people who have no real intention of buying
but still want more information. Plus, a higher price
often creates the perception of increased value.

(If you decide to use price as a damaging admission,
make sure your product will stand up to the test after
the purchase, or be prepared to see sales drop off

A damaging admission can be used to demonstrate a
reason for a discount. Consider a recent example in the
Dallas/Fort Worth area: a few days after a hailstorm, a
local car dealership advertised lowered prices as part of
a "hail sale." Their "damaging admission" was that many
of the cars had been marked by the hail, so the dealership
was forced to offer the cars at discount prices.

Were these cars really damaged? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Either way, the dealership seized the opportunity to use
a "damaging admission" to their advantage and have a
special sale. The success of the campaign would depend on
whether the damaging admission was credible. Were the
discounts proportional to the supposed hail damage? If
not, customers might think they'd been fooled. Because
there was an actual hailstorm, however, the admission was
probably accepted as credible.

When you write a sales letter, you're engaging in a
one-sided conversation. You can't be present to answer
any objections the reader might have and you can't be
there to respond to concerns about your credibility. Make
sure your sales letter does this for you.

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Matthew Cobb
Matthew Cobb

Matthew Cobb is an independent copywriter/consultant.
He can be reached at or by
visiting, where you can sign up
for his monthly e-pub, The Copy and Content Clinic.

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