Can one little question hurt sales so much?

Do you use questions in your sales copy?

If so… are you sure you know what you’re doing?

Because frankly, when I first started out, I didn’t have a clue.

I had no idea why so many of the older copywriters would ‘hem’ and ‘haw’ when asked the ‘question’ question.

At the time, it seemed to me that questions would be a great way to engage the reader.

After all, when you first talk to someone and meet someone, asking them questions and getting them to talk about themselves is a great way to get them to open up to you.

However, things work a little differently when you’re writing questions in copy.

Why ask questions at all?

When you write up sales copy, especially to ‘cold’ readers who have no idea who you are and what you’re about, it’s important to get them agreeing with you right off the bat.

That way, when you make the big product reveal, you’re not just some greedy company. You’re someone who ‘gets’ them. So you must know what they like.

One of the ways to do this is to get the reader to nod their heads.

For example, if you’re selling a magazine to cat lovers called “Kitten Aficionados Monthly” you might begin the pitch something like this:

“Nothing brightens your day quite like a kitten. (nodding their head “yes!”)

“Cuddly, fuzzy, and full of wonder —kittens make us laugh and feel warm inside (jabbing each other in the ribs “that’s spot on!”)

“In fact, the only thing better than a kitten … is more kittens! (“oh God yes, please shower me with an endless sea of kittens!”)

And then from there, you get them to acknowledge that having and endless mob of kittens may not be the best solution to their cravings, but you have the next best thing – a kitten magazine with countless kittens for them to ogle.

Now, if you were to use questions, you might ask something like this:

“Doesn’t your heart just melt when those little kitten eyes stare lovingly at you as it purrs in your lap?”

That’s a fairly safe question. We already are targeting ‘cat lovers.’ We’re not just asking them “Doesn’t your heart melt when you hold a kitten?”

We’re triggering the actual heart-melting response by getting them to picture the experience paired with the question.

The result is that 99% of the cat-loving readers and going to gush “YES!”

The problem with asking the wrong type of question

Now lets pretend we asked this sort of question.

“Is there anything more precious in the world than a kitten?”

Woah. Stop there. You know what you just did? You asked them to search their mental database.

That’s dangerous.

So now, instead of nodding with you, they think to themselves. “Hmm… I dunno- IS there aything more precious than a kitten? Maybe my nephew? My lawn gnome?” And from that point on, you lost them.

Now you’ve put them in a ‘scritinizing’ mindset. Instead of flowing and reading your copy, now they’re sizing up every line and checking it with their database.

By the time you reveal the product to them, they’re thinking to themselves “Well, do I even need this?”

Examples of bad questions in marketing

Another bad question example is any one that they can easily say no to.

Do you wish you could change your long distance plan? No.

Do you hate the way your lawn looks? No.

See? Some people might say “yes,” but you risk alienating an alarming amount of people by asking such open-ended questions.

Making statements is a little safer.

Until you get a feel for what questions are ‘safe’, stick to statements.

People are more likely to listen to you, and less likely to question what you’re saying (unless you say something WAY over the top.)

And best of all – you’re more likely to make the sale.

I’m thinking a more in-depth post talking about how to determine if a question is a good one or not is in order!

Do you use questions or not in your sales copy?

Talk to you soon,


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