The #1 Thing You Should Never Say―”What Do I Have to Do to Get You in This Car Today?”


Everyone wants options. At the very least, we want clarity.

I’ve bought a lot of cars over the years. One lean financial year, I actually bought a Volkswagen Rabbit from some dude on Craigslist for $750.  I also owned a Ford F-150 4X4 that, if purchased today, would run me about $63,000.

The difference between the two vehicles is obvious.

The Rabbit was one of the worst cars ever made. When it was brand new it was terrible. I bought it “as-is.” I ran it for as long as I could, which was at least 10 times longer than I would have been able to rent from Hertz for $750.

The Ford came with guarantees, options, and A/C. I was living in Las Vegas. I’m sure there are regions in the US where you can get away without having A/C, especially way back in the day when that wasn’t a standard option. Hella way before my time, but the Mojave Desert is definitely not one of those places.

The VW Rabbit of Copywriting

I bought the VW because I needed a car and at the time, that was all I could afford. And I knew what I was getting into. There was no way that once the car failed, and it was epic, that I was going to call the former owner and give him a piece of my mind.

As is means as is.

In copywriting, if I produce a Rabbit, people are going to recognize an inferior product. They’re not going to call me up and complain. They’re going to another website and they’ll do business with someone else.

By the same token, had I gone to a licensed dealership and bought a lemon, I’d be  telling a whole other story today. If they misrepresented something, inducing me to buy a VW Rabbit (of all things), and it turned out the salesperson lied or manipulated, we’d have to call that fraud.

Take Away:

  1. Don’t write copy that misrepresents―don’t promise a Lexus and deliver a Rabbit.
  2. Be honest about your products and services always.
  3. Don’t write “as is” copy―offer value and solve problems.
  4. Conversion happens when we remove pain, not when we add to it.

The last time I bought a car, I got a base model because it had so many standard features, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was also connected to an insurance agent by my salesperson, got great financing, and a double espresso.

I was consistently offered value, benefit, and a positive experience that did not waste a moment of my time. Your copy and landing page, your focus and call to actions need to do the same thing.

The previous dealership didn’t work for me. The entire conversation, the offers I was made, didn’t connect. What the sales team lacked in clarity, they made up for in losing my attention and losing a customer. Forever.

This awkward interaction showed me, in less than 5 minutes, that this dealership was not going to provide me with solutions. Finally, the salesperson actually said, “What do I have to do to get you into a car today?”

“Can you do magic tricks? I like Criss Angel.”

I didn’t say that. I just walked off the lot. And do you know why? Because the salesperson showed me, by asking that question, that he had run out of possibilities. 

He made it obvious that he could offer no real solutions, and the only choice I could make was to go to his competitor.

I went to another dealership and bought a new car that day.

Take Away:

  1. Be clear in your writing―show your customers why you’re a better option than your competitor.
  2. Communicate to connect―do this by providing useful, relevant information.
  3. Provide solutions.
  4. Be a virtual, if not literal, fount of possibilities.

The #1 reason to never say What do I have to do to get you into a car today? is because the salesperson isn’t asking me what I want. If the salesperson was really interested in providing benefit to me, the customer, that question would never have crossed his mind.

Had I been treated like I was a member of their audience―that is, a participator in their brand―I’d be driving their car today.

Final Take Away:

  1. I was treated like a consumer of a product―the conversion process requires you to treat the visitor like a human being.
  2. To get a visitor to become a customer, you have to get to know them.
  3. Laziness and a lack of imagination will kill conversion dead it its tracks, faster than a $750 Craigslist beater.

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