2010-11-04_1251Justin Halpern isn’t the only one privy to frank, off-the-cuff insights deliv­ered with sar­donic wit. As a Wiz­ard of Ads part­ner and Mon­day Morn­ing Memo sub­scriber, I have the immense priv­i­lege of receiv­ing 200-proof adver­tis­ing wis­dom deliv­ered via pithy remarks straight outa Roy’s pen.

When I come across these how-to-advertise-in-the-real-world epi­grams, I write them down for fre­quent review. And for “Fri­day Fun,” I’m going to share a baker’s dozen of them.


  • Details and specifics add cred­i­bil­ity. Names! Dates! Prob­lems! Solu­tions! Any­thing less is an unsub­stan­ti­ated claim and will be sum­mar­ily dis­missed by the customer.
  • …the job of a slo­gan isn’t to be com­pre­hen­sive… The job of a slo­gan is to break the ice, posi­tion the com­pany, and gain the inter­est of the lis­tener so that they want to know more.
  • The sub­con­scious is not only real, it is pow­er­ful. It is in the sub­con­scious and in the uncon­scious that brand essence resides.
  • Visual imagery of pos­i­tive out­comes.” This is the heart and soul of selling.
  • [You] can’t sell hap­pi­ness unless UNHAPPINESS is the default option.
  • To sell vol­umes of any­thing, you have to name the price-point the prospect was plan­ning to spend, then describe some­thing he can buy at that price-point that exceeds what he was expect­ing to find.
  • The chal­lenge isn’t to make the cus­tomer under­stand.  The chal­lenge is to learn to think like cus­tomers – it’s faster, cheaper, and more effective.
  • I don’t want to see your busi­ness from your perspective.”
  • mean­ing­ful dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion — rel­e­vance and cred­i­bil­ity. That’s what mar­ket­ing is all about.
  • PROBLEM: Sell­ing health is a bad idea. Most peo­ple already have health. If they keep their health, they’re not going to give you any credit for that. Health isn’t mea­sur­able unless you’re cur­rently sick and this reg­i­men cures you. As I said before, weight loss and body shape are mea­sur­able. Does this pro­gram accom­plish those things?
  • The strongest lines are always the ones about the customer.
  • Always sat­isfy the left brain when you can. It holds veto power when the right brain wants to do some­thing that is obvi­ously dan­ger­ous or fool­ish.  No, I’m not say­ing that logic trumps emo­tion. I’m say­ing only that lazy writ­ers too often try to work the heart because it’s eas­ier. They’re unwill­ing to do the research and hard work required to sat­isfy the mind.
  • Clar­ity is the new cre­ativ­ity” is sim­ply my way of say­ing, “Cut the poetic crap when the sub­ject requires some expla­na­tion.”  Too many peo­ple in the past have used the Monet tech­nique of impres­sion­ism to “bluff with fluff” when the client would have been bet­ter served if the writer had deliv­ered a lit­tle more information.

And there you have it.  Any one of these would be a great jump­ing off point for an entire post, so if one catches your eye or you’d like some elab­o­ra­tion, let me know in the comments.


  1. Aleksandar on 11.07.2010

    I don’t under­stand this one: [You] can’t sell hap­pi­ness unless UNHAPPINESS is the default option.

    Could you elab­o­rate a little?

  2. Jeff on 11.07.2010

    Great ques­tion Alek­san­dar. Look for the response in tomorrow’s post!

  3. Holly Buchanan on 11.08.2010

    What a great list of true nuggets.

    I’m curi­ous about sell­ing health — any ideas on what health­care providers should be sell­ing? would love to know your thoughts.

    .-= Holly Buchanan´s last blog ..Hal­loween and The Future Of Wom­ens Lead­er­ship =-.

  4. Jeff on 11.08.2010


    Health is tricky because you often end up sell­ing peo­ple what they already think they have. In other words, if they’re healthy and your pro­gram just makes them more healthy or pre­vents them from a health threat, it’s tough to get credit for that. It’s always eas­ier to sell a cure than a pre­ven­tive. That sucks but it’s true.

    So what exactly are you sell­ing? Are you sell­ing a pro­gram that will help trans­form the indi­vid­ual in mea­sur­able ways? Then focus on the trans­for­ma­tion. This is why weight loss and work­out companies/programs focus on the before and after.

    Are you sell­ing sup­ple­ments? Focus on the early sig­nals for prob­lems and con­di­tions that the sup­ple­ments help pre­vent. Focus on the peo­ple who know they have some­thing to lose — are wor­ried about los­ing it — and are will­ing to make the invest­ment to safe­guard their health. Frat kids rarely take fish oil. Mid­dle age men and women with unfa­vor­able coles­terol or blood pres­sure or trigliceride lev­els take fish oil as a pre­ven­ta­tive. Peo­ple with joint pain take it as a poten­tial partial-cure.

    The one excep­tion to that? Par­ents and espe­cially moth­ers. Mother’s will give their kids vit­a­mins and pre­ven­ta­tives. Preg­nant moms will take fish oil for their baby’s sake.

    Is that the “sell­ing health” you had in mind?

    - Jeff

  5. does drinking water help acne on 12.02.2011

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I pro­vide credit and sources back to your blog? My blog is in the exact same area of inter­est as yours and my vis­i­tors would def­i­nitely ben­e­fit from a lot of the infor­ma­tion you present here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Regards!

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