John Carlton Copywriting Tips: How To Trash Your Competition


John Carlton explains how to trash the competition without sinking to their level. Most people just put down the competition…John shows how to do it and elevate your own image at the same time.

Going into another virgin territory, like golf for example, it wasn’t necessary to be contrarian, although, in almost every ad I have written for golf I have taken a swipe at PGA pros. PGA pros, meaning those guys at every country club around the country who teach lessons.

Audience: I am confused about how you guys say not to criticize the competition…

John: You gotta be careful about it.

Audience: I do in my copy (unintelligible)

John: You have to be careful when it is a common thing to say. Anybody shop for a car recently? Anybody have a salesman say “oh, you own a Chevy? Chevy is a fine automobile! No. You say “oh, Chevy, yeah, I’d never buy a Chevy”. That is what you usually get. In most businesses, people trash the competition out of hand. It becomes meaningless.

They don’t give a reason why, except a general “It’s not worth it” or “they’ll rip you off”. It’s part of your USP. You’re positioning yourself against them. So, rather than saying “those guys don’t know what they’re talking about”, “they’re bad”, “they’ll hurt you”, the best way to say it is “Well, you know, you could spend your money there, and those guys have been in business a long time”…kind of a back-handed compliment, don’t actually trash them… “However, if you’re looking for x, x and x, I should point out to you that we have 24-hour service lines open and those guys are only open from 9 to 5. Maybe that serves you well, but if something happens to you at 10:00 at night you’re not going to get anybody over there, and that’s part of our main thing.” So you play up your strengths, positioned against what you perceive as their weaknesses.

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