Last weekend me, Jen, and the kids zipped into Morrisons to get some fried chicken, and pick up some bin bags.
An announcement crackled through the overhead speaker, inviting over 21s to collect a “free gift” by the fruit & veg section.
I’d usually walk in the other direction, thinking it was a con.
But we were already right next to the “free gift” pedestal. And there was no queue.
A notice on the pedestal read:
“See the Pro Smart Slicer & Receive Your Free Gift”
An elderly couple joined us.
By the time the store clerk arrived, four more couples had joined what was now more of a huddle than a queue.
All of them over 50 (except us).
From the moment the clerk uttered his first word into his Madonna-style headset, I felt he wasn’t a real Morrisons employee.
More of a QVC presenter.
Regardless, what he showed over the following 5-10 minutes was an excellent effort in pro salesmanship.
So, I took some notes for you (and me) to improve our copywriting:
My Notes from Giving 10 Minutes to a Salesman I’d Usually Ignore
Grabs attention with “curiosity gap” promise of a free gift.
Positions himself on small podium to attract more attention.
Doesn’t mess about introducing himself.
Opens the product.
It’s a Pro Smart Slicer – basically allows you to slice almost anything, using a slide mechanism for quick repeat slicing, instead of a knife or grater. Also known as a mandolin slicer.
As he slices an apple, he mentions the benefits of the grip – friendly to arthritic hands.
He mentions the appeal for children or grandchildren, who can now get more interested in their easy to consume, fun to make, five-a-day.
He slices a cabbage as he pretends to make coleslaw.
An onion to make casserole.
Mentions he is usually “hopeless” in the kitchen, and “a crier” when it comes to chopping onions, so we can relate.
Cleans the slicer by hand to show us how quickly it can be done.
Follows up the benefit by clarifying it’s also dishwasher friendly – to which, upon hearing; one couple nod at each other.
Reminds us of its compact size, perfect for caravan owners.
Doesn’t just tell us this is the only slicer on the market that comes with a lifetime guarantee, but shows us a piece of paper that details the guarantee – just to prove it.
Explains the product is selling on the TV at the moment for £60.
Reveals that if we should buy one in store today, it’s just £34. Not only that, it comes with two more products free of charge (state-of-the-art scissors and a peeler).
Thanks us for our time.
Finally demos the free gift, which is not a Pro Smart Slicer, but a tiny cooking utensil in comparison.
Invites us to collect the gift.
As each couple approaches, he picks up a Pro Smart Slicer as if he’s about to hand one over, assuming you’re there for the real thing. Not just the gift.
Politely says, “oh, just the free gift for you?”, before placing the box down and handing the free gift instead.
My Theory About the Salesman’s Hidden Agenda
Not one of our huddle walked away with a Pro Smart Slicer.
So, where did he go wrong?
I could say he was missing some social proofing from the pitch. No testimonials or sales figures.
I could say he was missing a sense of humour, or personality in general. No real eye contact or voice.
I could say his tactics backfired, once the huddle realised the Pro Smart Slicer wasn’t actually the free gift.
But, in a way, I think he succeeded, regardless of the 0% conversion rate for our huddle.
First of all, he acquired the full attention of approximately five highly qualified customers.
Qualified by their age, the fact they were buying fruit & veg from the fruit & veg section (which needs slicing perhaps that same night), and their current state of disposable income. They’re shopping in Morrisons, on the first weekend of payday week.
That’s five couples who are imagining themselves slicing a spud with ease, every time he slices the demo-spud with ease.
Okay, these five didn’t choose to buy right away. But they stuck around for the full 10 minutes.
0% bounce rate.
Every word of his content, consumed.
And a free gift packaged in the same branding, now in their pocket – destined to take its place in the top kitchen drawer, where it can be seen every day.
Oh – and that wasn’t his only pitch …
I kept an eye on him while Jen picked out the best chicken goujons. He was recounting the stock – which I took as a sign he may have sold at least one so far.
And he had a boxful of apples, cabbages, and onions next to the podium – which I took as a sign he was gonna be there all day.
Maybe he pulls an average of four qualified customers per pitch.
Maybe he stands up there once an hour.
Maybe he works for eight hours.
That’d mean 32 qualified customers hear about the Pro Smart Slicer in a way he has predesigned, probably with the help of a good copywriter, to resonate.
That pepper of information, along with the seed of a free gift, could just be enough to cook in the minds of those customers for the rest of the day.
He sells a slicer in the store – lovely. But maybe his real goal is to welcome 32 qualified customers onto the Pro Smart Slicer journey, who buy at a later date.
And maybe all 32 of those people share their experience with their friends (who are also likely to match a similar customer profile).
My Reasons for Sharing this With You
I don’t care if my surface-level theory is correct or not.
Got no idea how much he is paid. No clue on the ROI, at all.
What matters is how we can use my ordinary trip to Morrisons to gain some insight as copywriters looking to improve.
Here’s the 15 copywriting tips I got from it:
1. Grab attention with a promise that is not deceitful in any way
2. Get to the point
3. Bring the benefits to life with specific example scenarios (i.e. making a casserole in a caravan)
4. Draw all references from the world of your target customer (i.e. over 50s are more likely to have grandchildren, a caravan … and arthritis)
5. If you can, show your human side by admitting your faults, before explaining how the product turned things around for you
6. Use empathy to understand your customer and wipe out her objections before the end of your pitch (i.e. “yes, it can be used in the dishwasher too”)
7. Wrap the deal in the strongest guarantee possible (i.e. lifetime)
8. If the competitor doesn’t offer the same benefit, let the customer know about it
9. When making an offer, make it overwhelming (i.e. £26 discount with x2 free bonus products)
10. Add a sense of urgency to the sale if possible (i.e. “if you buy it in store today”)
11. Try to use an authentic voice at all times
12. Don’t forget to add social proof (i.e. how many have you sold already?)
13. Don’t come across as a QVC presenter
14. Demo the product when you can
15. Be memorable – if your customer doesn’t buy now, you want her to think of you/the brand, the moment she reencounters the problem which your product solves
If you have more insights from real-life salesmanship to add to my scruffy notes, please share in the comments – I’d love to know what you think about the crossover in live pitches and copywriting.