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

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