by Jeff

2011-09-30_1132In adver­tis­ing, it’s not so much what infor­ma­tion your words com­mu­ni­cate to the prospect, but what expe­ri­ences they call forth from the prospect. What images and asso­ci­a­tions do your words bring to life in the imag­i­na­tion?  And how many words does it take to cre­ate these images?

Per­haps the most famous exam­ple of breath­tak­ing brevity cou­pled with bril­liant imagery is Hemingway’s short, 6-word story:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

And while many peo­ple have admired that 6-word story since it’s cre­ation, few have gone on to emu­late it — until recently! It seems there’s now a series of books fea­tur­ing 6-word mem­oirs, start­ing with mem­oirs of “Writ­ers Famous and Obscure.”  Here are a few of the mem­oirs I man­aged to pick out from reviews (haven’t ordered mine yet):

  • Woman Seeks Men–High Pain Threshold.
  • Study math­e­mat­ics, marry slut. Sum bad
  • Found true love. Mar­ried some­one else.
  • My first con­cert: Zappa. Explains everything.
  • Aging late bloomer yearns for do-over.
  • Girl­friend is preg­nant, my hus­band said.
  • Just in: boyfriend’s gay. Merry Christmas.
  • Let’s just be friends, she said.
  • Afraid of every­thing. Did it anyway.
  • Still lost on road less traveled.
  • Can’t read all the time. Bummer.
  • I love my lady … and bacon.
  • I wrote it all down somewhere.
  • Athe­ist alco­holic gets sober through God.
  • Father: ‘Any­thing but jour­nal­ism.’ I rebelled. —Mal­colm Gladwell
  • The mis­er­able child­hood leads to roy­al­ties. —Frank McCourt

Even the teen’s get in on the action:

  • Hair’s pink to piss you off.
  • Met online; love before first sight.
  • Accord­ing to Face­book, we broke up.

So… how do you apply that to your advertising?

Well, you could:

1) Write a 6-Word Story that encap­su­lates your prospect’s mindset

Think about the kind of pre­cip­i­tat­ing events that cause peo­ple to need your prod­uct or ser­vice. What kind of emo­tions sur­round those events?  How would you sum­ma­rize the bridge from event, to con­scious desire for your prod­uct, if you had to do it in only 6 words.  (or heck, cheat a lit­tle and use 8 words : )

2) write a 6-Word Story describ­ing your adver­tis­ing challenge

What’s the prob­lem you need to over­come to really bring your audi­ence to action?  Can you sum­ma­rize it in an evoka­tive 6-word story?

3) Write a 6-word story that con­veys your core message.

Can you con­dense your mes­sage into what Chip and Dan Heath would call your “core” mes­sage, encap­su­lated in a power-packed six words?  Does the story merely “tell” the truth, or does it cause the lis­tener to real­ize the truth?

4) For­get 6-word sto­ries; evoke images and emo­tion with your copy

As one sales pro has described it to me, sell­ing is noth­ing more than get­ting your prospect imag­i­na­tively engaged with a vision of future ben­e­fit, and emo­tion­ally com­mit­ted to tak­ing action to make that vision a reality.

Now that’s a long way off from “con­vey­ing infor­ma­tion,” isn’t it?  So why do so many ads merely try to inform?  Or brag?  Or do any­thing other than imag­i­na­tively engage and emo­tion­ally com­mit the audience?

And the key to doing that is to make your mes­sage par­tic­i­pa­tive and inter­ac­tive, even if you’re using a so-called “push medium” of radio, tele­vi­sion, or print.  You don’t have to limit your­self to 6 words, but you do have to engage the imag­i­na­tion and emo­tions of your listener.

Want to get bet­ter at doing that?  Write your­self some 6-word sto­ries.  Oh, and feel free to post them in the com­ments, too :)

P.S. You can also take a gan­der at Post Secret for more, truly evoka­tive “short sto­ries” pre­sented in a multi-media format



by Jeff


When writ­ing copy for prod­ucts and ser­vices designed to help some­one do X, the best per­sua­sive tac­tic is to re-sell them on the dream.

In other words, when­ever prospects got into X in the first place, they did so because they had bought into a dream. For instance, most peo­ple take up blog­ging because they buy into the dream of blog­ging: be able to put their “voice” out into the world and find­ing an appre­cia­tive, recep­tive audi­ence that not only tweats, re-tweats, com­ments on, and for­wards their posts, but also find­ing finan­cial ben­e­fit through that same audi­ence buy­ing their books, come to their con­fer­ences, etc.  That’s the dream most peo­ple are chas­ing when they start up a blog.

Need­less to say, the real­ity fre­quently falls short of the dream.  And the frus­tra­tion at the gap is where the incen­tive to buy comes in.

So if you’re sell­ing a ser­vice to help peo­ple with their blog­ging, you not only want to sell the prospect on the ser­vice, but also re-sell them on the dream.  More specif­i­cally, you want to sell them on the abil­ity of your ser­vice to help them re-capture the dream.


Because they already bought into the dream once, and they haven’t yet given up on it (they’re still X–ing, aren’t they?), and noth­ing is eas­ier than sell­ing some­one on the dream they’ve already bought into.  Doesn’t mat­ter what the dream was, and it doesn’t mat­ter what indus­try you’re in; the eas­i­est sale you’ll ever make is sell­ing the prospect on the dream they’ve already dreamt.

Jonathan Morrow’s new prod­uct BoostBlogTraffic.com is a per­fect exam­ple of that. Check out the prod­uct announce­ment over at Copy­blog­ger and see for your­self.  What’s Jonathan doing for the first 2/3rds of the copy?  Invok­ing the frus­tra­tions and dream-reality gap involved in blog­ging, and then re-selling the blog­ging dream, baby!

Because Jonathan Mor­row knows what he’s doing.

  • So what dream where your prospects chas­ing when­ever they got into your market?
  • Are you mind­ing (and min­ing) the gap between the dream and the prospect’s cur­rent reality?
  • Does your copy re-kindle the dream?

summer-vacation-beach-11Some­time this sum­mer I lost my blog­ging mojo and decided to take most of July and all of August off.  Very Euro­pean of me, actually.

But the school year is back in ses­sion and so am I, with apolo­gies for my absence dur­ing the sum­mer and an amends for any­one inter­ested in my guest-blogging activ­i­ties while I was away.

You see, I have been writ­ing, just not for my per­sonal blog.  I’ve been scrib­bling down PPC Ad Writ­ing tips for BoostCTR’s blog (since I’m now man­ag­ing their writer com­mu­nity) and guest post­ing my Face­book Ad Writ­ing thoughts over at PPC Hero.

If you’re inter­ested in such things, I’ve com­piled a list of my favorite posts here: