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Friday, August 11, 2006

It's Not About You, It's About Your Offer


When I think of the San Jose software company, Qarbon, I recall the story of David and Goliath. In this case, Qarbon is David and another San Jose firm, Adobe, is Goliath.

Qarbon's products are mainly desktop authoring packages used to create Adobe Flash movies for online presentations and e-learning courses. Their flagship product, ViewletBuilder, competes with Breeze and Captivate - applications from, you guessed it, Adobe.

Qarbon offers registered users of its authoring packages ViewletCentral - a hosted application with different levels of membership. It's a combination of content management system, learning management system and traffic analysis service.

In this installment of Copywriting Tune-ups, we re-write the ViewletCentral portion of the current Qarbon newsletter to make it:

  • action oriented
  • easy to understand

Copywriting Tune-up


Help us serve you better by participating in our on-line surveys

By completing both of our small surveys, you will be entitled to an exciting reward:

For ViewletCentral users, we will add 3 months to your account free of charge or upgrade you for 1 month to the next subscription level (your choice).

For all others, we will give you a free 3 month subscription to a ViewletCentral Licenced Bronze account worth 75 dollars.

Claim Your Free 3-Month Subscription to ViewletCentral

Complete 2 lightening-quick surveys and you can:

  • Add 3 months to your account at no charge
  • Upgrade to the next level. Enjoy all your added privileges for 1 month free

Not a registered user? Sign up to test-drive ViewletCentral for 3 months absolutely free (a $75 value).

Readability Statistics

Overall, the changes discussed below give us a 43% jump in readability. Notice how grade level drops by 6 years. The Before snippet required a high school senior’s reading ability to comfortably understand the pitch. Now, a freshman in middle school will catch on.

Go Easy on the Eye

White space matters. The layout of your offer must be easy to take in whether you’re scanning or reading it word by word.

Less clutter eliminates the fatigue of information overload. One way to sweep away clutter is to use bullet points. Bullet points accelerate your prospect’s grasp of the offer.

Speak from the Prospect’s Point of View

The most important thing of all is perspective. The Before snippet reads from the vendor’s standpoint. The After snippet reads from the prospect’s point of view.

The opening headlines make this clear. The Before snippet starts with "Help us help you…" Placing pronouns like "I, we, or us" early on in your message causes your prospect to activate their anti-sales defense shields because they haven’t read "what’s in it for them" yet. The After snippet begins with "Claim Your Free..." to immediately couch things from the prospect’s point of view.

Inspire Action not Reflection

Verbs spark motion, nouns just sit there. None of the paragraphs in the Before snippet start with verbs. In the After snippet, starting with verbs transforms nearly every sentence into a customer benefit with a call to action.

Sweat the Subtleties

How to Spin "Give Before You Get"

The newsletter entices readers to take a survey using temporary ViewletCentral membership as bait. Few people like to take surveys no matter how short so, it’s important to put the right spin on it.

The Before snippet opens with "By completing both of our small surveys, you will be entitled to..." This is wordy and leaves the prospect to think, "OK, get on with it, what’s in it for me?"

Now, 2 less obvious points. "Both" means "all" and "all" in this context suggests work – ugh. Next, by using the word "small," the writer intended to minimize the work aspect of taking the survey and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, it unintentionally denigrates the survey itself.

The After snippet looks upon this opening sentence as a necessary speed bump to come clean with the catch before launching into why prospects should love it. It labels the surveys as "lightening-quick" to assure the prospect:

  • this sacrifice is virtually imperceptible
  • they get the better of the deal

Make Your Prospects Feel as Welcome as Your Customers

Ever fly coach? Do you sometimes feel like a third-class citizen because you’re not among the first or business-class travelers?

The writer did not intend to have this effect and it is subtle but the phrases, "For ViewletCentral users," and "For all others," emphasize the "in group versus the out group."

The After snippet never mentions the in group because speaking of accounts and privileges makes this clear. By asking the question, "Not a registered user?" we politely and humbly suggest gaining in group status is quick and easy.


Layout, point of view, and choice of words affect our conversion rate. Emphasize action verbs. Make rewards obvious. Their value must clearly exceed any sacrifice required.

Next year, Qarbon will celebrate its 10th anniversary – a true survivor of the dot com bust and everything since. They compete with Macromedia and now, Adobe. They must be doing something right.

Armed with powerful copy, this David can start making Goliath nervous.

To your marketing success,

Eric "Rocket" Rosen
Clear Crisp Communications
Tel: 408.506.0719
Fax: 814.253.5142
Email: eric.rosen AT
ROCKET Response Copywriting Services
Polished Marketing Materials in 24, 48 or 72 Hours


At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even I have tried viewletbuilder in the past and it's definitely an amazing piece of software.

I think Qarbon has a huge opportunity in the Mac market - there're just a few screencasting tools for the Mac but none of them compare with VB.

And even better, Adobe Captivate has no version for the Mac.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Eric Rosen said...

Amit, I think you're right. In addition to the Mac, Qarbon has a number of interesting market niche possibilities they can and should exploit more fully.

I get the sense, ViewletCentral is key to making that happen.

ViewletCentral looks "morphable" in many directions which is one reason I chose to focus on it in this post.


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