by Jeff

I recently came across this fascinating post about Apple Marketing principles, as articulated by Apple circa 1977.  Here they are:


Now, as a marketer, the Empathy and Focus parts are second nature — at least in terms of understanding.  Putting them into practice every day is harder stuff, but any copywriter that doesn’t understand the importance of empathizing with the prospective customer and focusing in on their primary buying motivations and concerns isn’t a copywriter at all.

It’s the last element most marketers and copywriters screw up or overlook: the importance of Imputed Quality.  Not nuts and bolts, specification-driven build quality or value for the dollar quality.  But quality cues that tap into buyers’ pre-existing mental imprint of luxury and virtuous manufacture.  The telling detail that says everything.

Want to see an example of imputed quality used in copy?  Here ya go:


Notice that the actual build quality is detailed by the bullet points of the body copy, while the imputed quality — the telling detail — is given pride of place within the headline of the ad itself.*

Of course, this sort of quality cue or imputed quality factor has to be already existing or freshly baked into the product or service itself before it can be advertised, but recognizing the need for it — and doing the patient research and digging to find it — is one of the major keys to writing copy that works.

Apple of course, is a master at this, which is one reason they are renowned design icons, because inspired design imputes high quality. But it’s also why Apple never skimps on screen quality, keyboard feel, and the overall polish put on their user interfaces: those are the sort of tangible, experiential things that impute quality.

Yes, of course, we expect real quality from an Apple product in the sense of freedom from typical PC-like annoyances, annoyances brilliantly dramatized and mocked by Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign.  But even if you knew nothing about Apple or PCs and just LOOKED at the competing products laid side by side, you’d intuitively get that one set of products were special and nicer than the rest.  Regardless of how their internal components and specs stacked up.

So Here Are My 3 Takeaways from This:

1) Quality is important, but quality without imputed quality will go unrewarded in the marketplace.

2) Business owners should never expect customers to recognize quality and should “bake” imputed quality into their offerings.

3) Copywriters who fail to use imputed quality cues will end up with underperforming ad copy.

P.S. — Want to see an already-existing quality cue in action? Check out these guys thudding the door closed on a Mercedes:

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P.P.S. — How do I know that Ogilvy diligently searched for product facts that would help him find and recognize important quality cues?  Because he listed research twice when explaining his copywriting methodology!  Steps 3 and 5 both emphasize the importance of research and facts.

* For a more detailed analysis of this famous Ogilvy Ad, check out my old GrokDotcom post.

2010-04-22-Insults1Kindness and Professionalism — that’s what great customer service boils down to, according to my colleague Tim Miles.

And while Tim has drilled down to discover the 7 elements in small business Kindness and Professionalism (which you should consider a must-read), for me the real genius is in his general formula of “Kindness and Professionalism.”  Why?

Because it’s the opposite of “Adding insult to injury.”

Believe it or not most medical malpractice suits, along with most “United Breaks GuitarsPR and word of mouth catastrophes all prominently feature both elements — often with the “insult” taking precedence over the injury.

Imagine what would typically happen without the “Insult.” If united broke the guitar and then apologized and even only partially compensated Dave Carroll for the loss, do you still think he would have made that video. Think about that: even if the ordeal still cost Dave hundreds of dollars — even if the “injury” part of the equation was still present — that element alone would never have sparked a viral YouTube revenge without the added injury of an uncaring and calloused bureaucratic response.

But flipping the equation goes beyond avoiding PR nightmares; adding kindness to professionalism offers a powerful mental framework for creating emotionally compelling customer service.  And these elements are present in every “WOW” customer service story you’ll ever hear or experience, whether it’s the I Heart Zappos story, the various Nordie stories, and so on.

So, think about it: Kindness and Professionalism.

And then head on over to Tim’s blog to see everything that can go into each part of that dynamic duo.