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Make Customers Assume the Best


  1. Ben Boudreau
    Ben Boudreau January 29, 2008

    Reason #439 why I love working with words.

  2. Simon Smith
    Simon Smith January 29, 2008

    Ben, I hear you. What are the other 438? And how long’s your list? Also, as an FYI, we’r planning a more detailed post on presuppositions for the near future, to be published on the Mastercopy blog. How much will that grow your love?

  3. Charlotte Riley
    Charlotte Riley January 30, 2008

    Very nicely put! Do you know of any copywriting tricks that are as good as presuppositions, embedded commands, framing around shared values/beliefs and compelling word choice? I don’t. Looking forward to the more detailed post!

  4. Christiana
    Christiana February 7, 2008

    I appreciate the necessity for a company to overcome negative assumptions, or create positive assumptions surrounding their organization and its products. However, I feel that creating audience presuppositions by “weav[ing] your sentences so that they have no choice but to believe them” demonstrates a lack of consumer respect.
    By choosing to believe in the power of these presuppositions, we are doing little more than propogating the assumption that consumers are unable to think for themselves, which I am sure many of us would argue. Take the assumption that was made in this article; assumptions drive sales. Upon reading this statement, did you not question how this conclusion was reached? Did it not seem like either a flaw in logic or an uninformed and unsupported statement? I can say for certainty that it did not go unquestioned in all who read it.
    On the flip side, what if you assume that this statement is true? The contrary belief also emerges: it is reasonable to suggest that assumptions also have a negative impact on sales. I would hazard that no matter how carefully you construct your statements, readers with a negative preconceived notion would not immediatly jump on your bandwagon.
    This argument also fails to take into account which medium is being used to relay the message. Social media thrives on opinion and it can be difficult to find genuine information in a sea of propaganda. With the rise of social media, consumers need to become increasingly aware of what they are reading and the motivation behind it. For example, is it merely informational, or is there a deeper purpose of persuasion etc.
    Academic institutions do not accept wikipedia as a reliable source for information, and we are trained not to believe everything you read on the internet.
    By being given the power to respond to postings, consumers are able to have their say and are inclined to do so especially if their beliefs contradict what they have read. I believe that using presuppositions in messaging effectively sets you up for the savvy consumer’s negative reaction. Without disallowing or previwing posts before they are accepted to the page, which sets a dangerous precident, this leaves us in a difficult position: is it possible to effectively market through social media while simultaneously respecting the consumer that is able to think for themselves?

  5. Simon Smith
    Simon Smith February 7, 2008

    Christiana, I appreciate your points, and there’s definitely a fine line. But how much room do you think there is for flexibility? Because we’re talking about human psychology. No matter what media, if you’re human and consuming language, you’re influenced by it in a pretty similar way. Also, social media isn’t benign. Social proof–what other people are doing–influences whoever’s consuming social media. Truth is, nobody really “thinks for themselves.” Being social creatures with shared language and meaning, that’s impossible. Rather, there’s a consensual reality, and those who are able to communicate best tend to determine the dominant view of that reality–including of the products and services within it.

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