I have a nice headful of hair.
And it’s a good thing, too.
Because every so often I have a “discussion” with someone that causes me to rip much of it out.
I just got off the phone with a friend who is writing a brochure. He and his wife sell homemade soap. Very nice soaps, actually. Beautiful colors and fragrances. Some look like nice big, juicy hunks of watermelon. Others resemble fresh orange slices… bright lemon wedges… and meaty chunks of coconut. Yum.
(Do you see what PVA’s–powerful Visual Adjectives–can do to your copy, regardless of the product?)
OK.. back to my hair ripping.
Oh, what the heck…. here’s the dialogue, as I remember it…
DREW: Hey George… you guys have some wonderful soaps here. These fruity soaps are especially appealing. But why just say, “Orange-Scented Bar Soap?” Or, “Coconut-Scented Bar Soap?” Why not really get into it?
Why not compare the soaps to the freshest, juiciest slices of Mandarin or Florida oranges?
Why not talk about how washing your face with it is like splashing your skin with liquid sunshine?
How the aroma reminds you of walking in the sunny, breezy orange fields of Florida?
And your coconut soap! Yum! Why just say, “Smells like coconut”? Why not compare it to the freshly cut coconuts in the sun-soaked western Caribbean… reminiscent of the milky white meaty centers and the sweet, luscious juice?
This is what powerful copywriting is all about. Putting sharp, bright, colorful imagery into people’s heads!
GEORGE: That seems a little over the top, don’t you think? After all, we’re not selling food… we’re selling SOAP!
DREW: UGH. (To myself.) Of course you’re selling SOAP, George, but you want to create some romance… some imagery… something that people can latch onto. It’s called SELLING.
GEORGE: All that doesn’t seem necessary.
DREW: NECESSARY? NECESSARY?! It’s not NECESSARY to sell soap, George! But if you ARE going to do it, why not do it well? Why not do it “aggressively?” Why not do more than your competition is doing? You’re not the ONLY one in this business, you know.
GEORGE: Uh huh.
DREW: I want you to make a fortune with these soaps. They’re great! But you need to do MORE than your competition. Don’t you want to stand apart… stand out?
GEORGE: Well, if doing what you’re saying was so great, why doesn’t anyone else do it?
DREW: Why does McDonalds sell billions of dollars worth of burgers? It doesn’t mean the people who eat all that cow grease are smart. It means they’re simply doing what they’re doing.
You can’t go through life saying, “If others aren’t doing it, why should I?” Most people DON’T do things the best possible way. They do what they THINK is best. And since most businesspeople don’t know much about creating effective advertising, they DON’T do what could be most effective!
GEORGE: (Thinking.) (It sounds like a field of crickets.)
DREW: George, listen to me.
GEORGE: I AM listening!
DREW: You’re selling specialized soap. You’re not selling Ivory. Or Zest. Or Irish Spring. You’re selling EXPENSIVE soap that has 2 things going for it:
1) It’s visually beautiful, and…
2) It smells delicious.
To NOT play up the 2 things that make your soap so appealing is MISSING THE BOAT!
People don’t buy your soap because they simply need to get clean. They can get clean a lot more cheaply with a bar of plain ol’ eyeball-burnin’ Ivory.
(Ever get Ivory in your eyes? Death seems merciful.)
GEORGE: Yes… but…. people will know how it smells WHEN THEY BUY IT. Plus, everyone knows what oranges, coconuts and lemons smell like. They smell like oranges, coconuts and lemons.
DREW: Dear God help me. (To self.)
GEORGE:… so why take all that space to describe it to people who already know?
DREW: Because it helps persuade!
Look at it this way: if someone sees your brochure… and that someone likes the smell of oranges… then she is going to be romanced by a description that’s in keeping with what she likes.
(Read that again.)
It helps her imagine! It takes up more “space” in her brain by creating a mental movie of the product! Describe the juicy wedges… the sunny fields… the hand-picking that goes on in the orchards… that sweet bursting of aroma when you peel one.
And don’t stop there!
Create a deep mental hook with a phrase she won’t be able to shake. Something like: “The Orange-Juicy Way to Wash!” or something similar. Don’t call it “lather,” call it “Sweet Orange-Cream Bubbles.” This is how you make ordinary copy EXTRAordinary.
GEORGE: But won’t people think that’s a little manipulative?
DREW: It IS manipulative. And NO, they won’t think that.
Besides, ADVERTISING IS MANIPULATIVE! We manipulate people’s thoughts. That’s what it’s all about.
It’s not EVIL, unless you’re selling junk and your claims are misleading or downright false.
It’s all about sales, George. And there are degrees of selling.
Hey, let’s face it: you can call yourself a SELLER if you simply have something you’ll exchange for money. Or, you can be a SKILLED seller and incorporate those things that have been PROVEN to encourage people to buy. It’s your choice.
GEORGE: I hear what you’re saying, DREW… but all those fancy descriptions. I can’t get over the fact that we’re just selling soap to use those kinds of descriptions.
DREW: Sigh. (The sound of brown hair ripping.)