An Article about Advertising Copy
Enough about You
So I went to his website and I read his copy, but I had trouble with the concept. In perfectly good, workmanlike prose, his pages described transactions and support, and how a service offered by the website eliminated the need for CGI programming. I dont know about you, but I never stay very long in a place where they are talking about CGI programming.
Why did I have trouble with this websites concept? Basically, concepts related to me, I grasp instantly. Other concepts I dont grasp at all.
Lets Talk about Me
Heres the progression: if it benefits me, then it relates to me. If it relates to me, then I grasp it. This progression isnt unique to me. People like me make up about ninety-nine percent of your audience (which is a guess, but even if we are only fifty percent, you could still make a fortune catering to us).
I would have understood this website if it had explained the benefits of the service it offered. Instead, with its transactions and support and CGI programming, it was all about features. From web pages to telemarketing scripts and from television commercials to my own specialty of direct mail, good marketing copy emphasizes benefits. In fact, in the best marketing copy, everything that isnt a presentation of a benefit is only there to either (1) get the readers attention so the benefit can be presented or (2) show the reader how to place an order once the presentation of the benefit has been understood.
Going Really Fast
Figuring out the benefit of a feature is not difficult. When its not immediately apparent, just ask the client. Why did you put dual overhead cams in this car? The client will probably hem and haw about compression ratios and other stuff that has nothing to do with me, but just keep asking why until you get to something that addresses my primary interest. Eventually the client will tell you: it goes really fast. If figuring out the benefit is easy, refining it is a little more difficult, and thats where you earn your money in writing marketing copy.
In all forms of writing fiction, poetry, journalism, whatever specificity builds power. The same is true for the benefits you present in your marketing copy. If you write an ad for a car that says, it goes really fast, you may be writing a better than average car ad, but youll fall short of the real power in benefit-oriented copy. Instead of it goes really fast, write it thrusts your body deeply into the specially contoured drivers seat as it pulls away from the curb.
Theres More to Me than This
But youre not done yet. I am a complex person, and there is more to me than staying ahead of other drivers; not much more, Ill grant you. But there is more. Whats special about a person who likes to drive really fast? For one thing, this is obviously a person for whom danger is no big deal. In fact, this is probably a person who rather likes danger. So lets add danger to the benefit: its heart-stopping acceleration thrusts your body deeply into the specially contoured drivers seat as it pulls away from the other cars. Now you have engaged my interest. Do you see how much you know about me, even though youve never met me? Youve gained all this knowledge just by thinking about the benefits of a product I might buy.
Forget the Curb-Sitters
And that brings us to the most important point about benefits: they address specific audiences. You cannot write effectively about benefits without understanding the audience you want to address. You learned a lot about me indirectly, just by thinking about the benefits provided by a car with dual overhead cams. But there is no substitute for direct knowledge of your audience. Ask the client whom the product or service is intended for. Chances are, the client has a pretty good idea of income level, gender, or job description, when these characteristics are appropriate to potential demand for the product. Often they arent (avoid stereotyping the audience it is the fast track to building prospect resentment).
Sophisticated and well-heeled marketers use so-called psychographic profiles. But you dont need to sort out your prospects basic values and cultural affiliations to understand that you should approach corporate CEOs differently than youd approach single mothers. And that neither of those approaches may be valid for single mothers who are corporate CEOs. I am sure that we could work out an approach to single-mother CEOs if we got a look at the product and maybe took a quick trip to Fedstats. Just dont ask for my help when youve got something to sell to single mothers who do CGI programming.
©1998 Floyd Kemske
|Do you want to hire Floyd Kemske to write advertising copy?
Visit the website of Baier Stein Direct, where he is Creative Director