skip to main content

GBOP: No Matter How Powerful the Paragraph, it’s No Match for a Person

divider image for this post

Once upon a time, in a career far far away, I had taken the “capture interest with an email” principle to the extreme on a side project by making entering your email address the only thing you could do on your first visit to my website.

After that step, I used automated follow-up emails to trickle value that was extremely useful on it’s own, but was shared in the hope it would illustrate the full value I could offer through a $50 purchase.

This hummed along swimmingly until one day I got an email from a guy named John who, to put it plainly, was not happy about what he called a “bait and switch” tactic.

A-Ha Moment
Surprised by this response we started to email. I’m no perfect salesman, but through honesty and being “real”, I carefully calmed John down over the course of a dozen emails, explaining that there was no “switch”, he didn’t have to buy and I hoped the content I shared for free would be helpful even if he didn’t.

We went back and forth for the better part of a day. The last email I got from him was the most surprising of all: his order confirmation.

I had all the bases covered on the website, but the website could never be as nimble, as personal, and empathetic, as relevant, or as human as…well…a human.

This taught me a valuable lesson I had already learned and understood a long time before. In a cross between my own take and Marketing Experiment’s version:

“People don’t buy from paragraphs and they don’t buy from companies, people buy from people.”

As great of a copywriter as I thought I was (I wasn’t), my skills were no match for one-on-one, personal communication.

Does this one-on-one communication scale? Not always, but ever since I’ve found a ton of success in simply placing my name and photo on many of my side projects and letting website copy be not just a paragraph the visitor is reading, but something I am saying to them.

Example #1
During my first year of college I worked in a call center. Though the website was very well optimized, the people on the phones remained the most valuable asset despite the overhead and wages for that many employees.

The reason why was simple: our conversion rate was insane. Take 10 crazy qualified visitors that are ready to order, send them to our website and 1 might buy (on a good day). But send 10 calls to my desk – no matter how qualified – and I’d close 7-8 (on a bad day). There’s a reason the name of the company started with “1-800”.

Example #2
One year when I was 12 or so I started an edging business in my neighborhood. I was shy and it was summer, so it only lasted as long as it took to pay off my edger, but I learned some valuable lessons. For example, one day I delivered a big stack of flyers to one neighborhood and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t. Not once.

The next week I walked my edger to a row of 8 houses with hopes no higher than one person (if any) taking me up on my services. The result? Three jobs. Even crazier? Half the people weren’t home.

Ask Yourself
As much as I love online marketing and the automation and low-cost associated with it, sometimes the value of a person is hard to beat. So ask yourself:

“Is there anything we have trouble selling or that simply doesn’t convert well that, for the price and skill of a salesman, would be better off channeled to our call center?”

Perhaps it’s confusing copy, perhaps it’s a complex product, perhaps it’s valuable upsells, whatever the case, in almost every case, people sell better than paragraphs.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

Get the weekly digest.

New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.