When I com­piled my Copy­writ­ing Resource post, I was sort of sur­prised to learn that I couldn’t quite find any con­tent online that really got into the “meat” of the dif­fer­ent kinds of Unique Value or, to use Rosser Reeves’ orig­i­nal term, Unique Sell­ing Propositions.

Don’t get me wrong, I ulti­mately found lots of solid posts that had impor­tant things to say about UVPs. But I knew there was some­thing valu­able left to say about the subject.

So here’s the deal: UVPs come in 5 basic fla­vors and under­stand­ing that can be a big help for small busi­nesses and advertisers.

Unique Value Propo­si­tions can be based on…

1) A True Value-Added Advan­tage that Really IS Unique

Take note: “true value-added” means the unique part of the prod­uct is answer­ing a ques­tion that peo­ple actu­ally care about. Mazda’s Rotary engine is cool as heck, but there’s a rea­son it’s only avail­able in one car and the rest of the auto­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers haven’t jumped on the rotary band­wagon. A rea­son that has noth­ing to do with patents.  Nobody was ask­ing for a lower-vibrating, higher power-per-liter-of-displacement engine that was even more of a gas hog than the aver­age high per­for­mance engine.

Com­pare that to mini­vans. When Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth came out with them in 1984, they set the world on fire. And that means mini­vans didn’t remain “unique” to them for long. Within a year or two most major man­u­fac­tur­ers also offered mini­vans, and now they’re ubiquitous.

So how many prod­ucts on the mar­ket today have a true, Class 1 UVP?  Not that many phys­i­cal prod­ucts, actu­ally. Dyson Vac­uum clean­ers and their other prod­ucts prob­a­bly fit the bill. I’m sure there are more, but truly unique, value-added UVPs are rare for phys­i­cal prod­ucts and mature markets.

The very term itself was invented back before over-choice and over-abundance was the norm, and it was invented to help adver­tise newly-available-to-the-mass-market choices. So where do true-blue UVPs show up the most often these days? New Fron­tiers. Dig­i­tal Ser­vices, for exam­ple. The way Hip­munk dis­plays flights is a true UVP.

So just don’t be too sur­prised if you don’t come across that many Class 1 UVPs.

2) Spe­cial­iza­tion and/or Niche-Marketing

The law firm of O’neil & Wide­lock adver­tised as divorce lawyers who only rep­re­sented men. That’s a UVP based on spe­cial­iz­ing (in divorce law) and niche mar­ket­ing (to men only). Home builders who only use Insu­lat­ing Con­crete Forms for their homes might be another example.

Most peo­ple sim­ply don’t give this kind of spe­cial­iza­tion and nich­ing enough credit. Check out the ingre­di­ents for Excedrin Migraine and reg­u­lar ol’ Excedrin — they both con­tain: aceta­minophen, aspirin, and caf­fein. So what’s the point of hav­ing a niche ver­sion for migraines?  Because it sells better.

Peo­ple want — and are will­ing to pay a pre­mium for — prod­ucts spe­cific to them and their needs, even if the spe­cial­iza­tion rep­re­sents no real, objec­tive advan­tage or gain.

3) An Improved Buy­ing Experience

A car wash ser­vice that comes to your home or work. Noth­ing spe­cial about the car wash itself, other than the deliv­ery. But that’s enough isn’t it? These kinds of UVPs are often cre­ated by a busi­ness man look­ing to pro­vide X but with­out the has­sle or “piss off fac­tor” that’s more or less stan­dard to that industry.

One Hour Heat­ing and Air Con­di­tioner reflects this brand of “let’s remove the frus­trat­ing parts” approach to UVPs. There is noth­ing spe­cial about their HVAC sys­tems or equip­ment or the type of repair or tune-up work they do. Noth­ing other than the fact that they guar­an­tee their guys will show up at a pre­cisely sched­uled time, such as 9:30 am, rather than an overly broad range of say, “between nine and two.” This elim­i­nates the annoy­ance of hav­ing to rearrange an entier day’s sched­ule to “be there” for the HVAC guy. And it works.

4) Pre-Emptive Claims

The exam­ple for this that I love to use was given to me by my col­league, Chuck McKay: “Visine gets the red out”  Well, yeah, of course it “gets the red out” — what eye drops don’t do that?  But what exactly would the adver­tis­ing for Murine or Clear Eyes eye drops say in response? “We also get the red out?” The me-too fac­tor pre­vents the com­pe­ti­tion from say­ing that, so Visine’s claim remains unique in terms of adver­tis­ing and brand-association.

Did you get that?  Pre-emptive claims allow brands to vir­tu­ally “cre­ate” unique sta­tus through advertising!

Now the unique­ness likely goes away when eval­u­ated at a con­scious, ratio­nal level, just as it did for Visine when I asked you to ques­tion it, but it remains at an emo­tional, gut-feel level. And that’s the level that pays off for buy­ing decisions.

5) “Romanc­ing the Stone”

This is a com­bi­na­tion or hybrid UVP based on some char­ac­ter­is­tic that’s not quite truly value added or unique enough to land in the other classes, but that has also been claimed and romanced in adver­tis­ing. It’s not all smoke and mir­rors, there’s a cer­tain fac­tual real­ity to it, but… nei­ther is it all substance.

Exam­ple: Macallan ages their scotch in sherry oak casks.* And they make a big deal of it in their ads. Does it mat­ter? I’m sure it does. Does it mat­ter as much as they want you to believe it does? Only if you expect it to based on their adver­tis­ing.

In my opin­ion, the vast major­ity of UVPs actu­ally fall into this category.

Most of the time, the value of the “value propo­si­tion” is debat­able, or as much a mat­ter of pref­er­ence or per­ceived self-identity and value-association as gen­uine, objec­tive advan­tage. But the dif­fer­ence remains real in the mind of the cus­tomer so long as it has been prop­erly romanced by the advertising.

Want to see this kind of thing in action?  Well, just look around you.  But if you want to see it done mas­ter­fully, check out the J. Peter­man web­site and think of each or any piece of cloth­ing as a brand. Then view the accom­pa­ny­ing copy as an attempt to spin a “UVP” around that brand.

So what’s the bot­tom line on all this?

If your com­pany doesn’t have a UVP, or if you don’t feel as if your UVP has been at all suc­cess­ful in dri­ving more sales, you might just need an ad con­sul­tant who under­stands this stuff to come in and either cre­ate a new one for you, or to “Romance the Stone.”

Ear­lier this year, I wrote a prod­uct page for the fine puz­zle­smiths at Jig­saw Health.

I had used some of their prod­ucts but not this one.

I thought the page was com­plete and darned good.

Flash for­ward to now, when we’re con­sid­er­ing giv­ing this prod­uct to our son.

Our words-fail-beautiful son.

I went back to the page I’d writ­ten and couldn’t find answers to my own ques­tions. I had to con­tact my for­mer client today with more questions.

Hello, salience. Nice to see you again. Thanks for remind­ing me a website’s never complete.

Ask your­self of your web copy: after read­ing it, would you give your prod­ucts or ser­vices to your own words-fail-beautiful?

Does your copy pass the par­ent test?

Is it time for a re-write?

P.S. I guess I’d con­sider this my first guest post, but that would be cheat­ing.  Really, this post was writ­ten by the great Tim Miles for the Amer­i­can Small Busi­ness blog which is cur­rently cocooned away await­ing trans­for­ma­tion.  But this post was too good to hide away and I wanted to link to it for my mas­sive Resource-Intensive List Post.  So I stole it and put it here.  

Copy­writ­ing skill usu­ally pro­gresses along 3 stages:

Stage 1: Under­stand­ing the Mechanics — The untrained copy­writer can become expo­nen­tially bet­ter in a day’s worth of train­ing. It really is that easy. And a copy­writer that’s made that min­i­mum effort can get results, right away. That’s why a lot of A-List copy­writ­ers will tell you that you don’t have to become a great writer to make money writ­ing copy.

Stage 2: Learn­ing the Psy­chol­ogy of “Sales­man­ship in Print” — Semi-decent copy­writ­ers won’t con­tinue to get bet­ter with­out at least a few month’s or a year’s worth of con­tin­ued study and prac­tice. That’s because they’re mov­ing from the core mechan­ics and basic mind­set of copy­writ­ing, to apply­ing effec­tive sales psy­chol­ogy to their writing.

Stage 3: Becom­ing a Seri­ous Stu­dent of Adver­tis­ing Artistry — Mov­ing from sea­soned, jour­ney­man copy­writer to true pro DOES require that you become a bet­ter writer. You must become adept at direct­ing the “movie in the mind” of the prospect, and that requires supe­rior word­smithing along with artistry above and beyond the pre­vi­ous two stages. Nat­u­rally this takes longer to learn.

So why should you care?

First, it’s impor­tant to know that you can get dra­matic improve­ments and busi­ness results from mov­ing through the first two stages. Mean­ing that it’s worth the lim­ited effort to get bet­ter even if you are NOT look­ing to become a pro­fes­sional copy­writer or marketer.

Sec­ond, if you ARE look­ing to become a pro­fes­sional copy­writer, you’ll get bet­ter faster if you under­stand what stage of devel­op­ment you’re in and what resources will help you the most for any given stage. That’s not to say the com­po­nents of each stage don’t over­lap, but that they do tend to build one stage on the other, so you shouldn’t spend too much time, say, try­ing to learn rhetor­i­cal flour­ishes if you haven’t mas­tered the basics of WIIFM, sub­stan­ti­a­tion and proof, etc.

And with that in mind, here are some solid, mostly free resources to get you to that next level:

Under­stand­ing the Mechanics

To me, the basic mechan­ics of copy­writ­ing includes the following:

So, there’s obvi­ously a bit more to the basic mechan­ics of good copy­writ­ing than JUST these ele­ments, and for you ded­i­cated stu­dents, I’ve come up with two entirely FREE resources to cover those:

  1. Jef­frey and Bryan Eisen­berg have gra­ciously agreed to let my read­ers down­load a free copy of their highly praised and sought after book, Per­sua­sive Online Copy­writ­ing.
  2. You can down­load a free, no-email-necessary PDF  of Claude Hop­kins’ Sci­en­tific Adver­tis­ing right here.

Learn­ing the Psy­chol­ogy of Sales­man­ship in Print

Sales Psy­chol­ogy is a BIG topic, and I’m sure I’m leav­ing lots of top­ics uncov­ered, but for me, the must-have basics include:

Obvi­ously, there is a lifetime’s worth of learn­ing around these top­ics and any num­ber of “addi­tional read­ing” books could be rec­om­mended.  That said, the best FREE resources for this stage are Roy H. Williams first two books in his Wiz­ard of Ads tril­ogy, The Wiz­ard of Ads and Secret For­mu­las of the Wiz­ard of Ads, both which you can down­load as audio and e-books for free at Roy’s Web­site.

Becom­ing a Seri­ous Stu­dent of Adver­tis­ing Artistry

Once you under­stand the mechan­ics and the psy­chol­ogy, you enter the realm of advanced tech­niques, sub­tlety of exe­cu­tion, and gen­eral artistry. This is where the ad writer has the most in com­mon with the nov­el­ist, play­wright, movie direc­tor, enter­tainer, and even the stage musi­cian. Here are

Again, there are a num­ber of books I might rec­om­mend for addi­tional read­ing, but if I am to focus in on FREE resources, I would rec­om­mend Roy H. Williams’ 3rd Wiz­ard of Ads book, Mag­i­cal Worlds, which you can down­load for free directly from Roy’s Web­site.  You’ll also want to sign up for the Mon­day Morn­ing Memo.  And if you’re still hun­gry for more, I promise to com­pile a post of noth­ing but rec­om­mended books and blogs, rather than indi­vid­ual posts and free resources.

 

But for now, this resource list rep­re­sents a strong course of study. Best of luck to any and all aspir­ing stu­dents. Feel free to com­ment with your own pro­posed resources, ques­tions, etc.

 

Do you have the courage to say what you’re not?
Most peo­ple don’t want to draw that sharp line of dis­tinc­tion, and it’s why their mar­ket­ing efforts blend into the clutter.
Dis­cernible edges and sil­hou­ettes allow us to visu­ally “grip” an object and sep­a­rate fig­ure from ground.  Elim­i­nate those edges and you’ll effec­tively cam­ou­flage yourself.
In the pic­ture above, notice how the legs present a solid sil­hou­ette and are eas­ily iden­ti­fied, while the man’s upper body cam­ou­flage breaks up his sil­hou­ette and blurs his edges into the back­ground of trees and snow.  As a result, it’s much harder to make out his his torso and arms.
Like our eyes, our minds also depend on edges and sil­hou­ettes.  We define by giv­ing para­me­ters, men­tally grasp­ing a con­cept by its bound­aries.  With­out the “edges” of con­trast­ing ref­er­ence points, a con­cept or term remains ambigu­ous at best.
That’s why grab­bing after an “infi­nite” mar­ket and seek­ing to be all things to all peo­ple ends up cam­ou­flag­ing one’s brand and mes­sag­ing; with­out con­trast it all just blurs into the background.
Want to stand out?  Sharply define the edges between you and your competitors.
The bet­ter you do this, the more strongly you’ll turn-off some cus­tomers.  But wouldn’t you rather pow­er­fully per­suade some of your mar­ket than be over­looked by all of it?
Just fol­low the exam­ple of this doctor:
I found this ad in my local news­pa­per and was imme­di­ately struck by the bold headline:
“You don’t want me to be your fam­ily doctor.”
Pretty ballsy head­line for a doc­tor, huh?  Wouldn’t you feel com­pelled to read more about this doc­tor with the courage to so brazenly declare what he wasn’t?
Hav­ing gained the reader’s atten­tion, the body copy fur­ther explains: “Neu­ro­surgery is one of the few med­ical spe­cial­ties for which I am well-suited.  I am not warm and fuzzy.  I could never be suc­cess­ful as a pedi­a­tri­cian or in a fam­ily prac­tice – no one would come back a sec­ond time.  But I am very good at what I do.”
Dr. Good­man then sub­stan­ti­ates his claimed exper­tise with a list of very impres­sive pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions and accom­plish­ments, rounded off with some exam­ples of his extreme com­mit­ment to sur­gi­cal excel­lence and his patients’ well-being.
While his pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions are truly out­stand­ing, most read­ers would never have read them with­out Dr. Goodman’s use of reverse cam­ou­flage in his head­line.  Say­ing what he wasn’t allowed him to stand out amidst the clutter.
So here’s 3 sure-fire ways to reverse-camouflage your messaging.
1.    Get your­self an enemy and/or reject a rea­son­able alter­na­tive position
Noth­ing fires the blood quite so much as declar­ing what (or who) you stand against.  But you get no points for tear­ing down straw men; reject­ing a rea­son­able alter­na­tive posi­tion puts teeth into your message.
2.    Present a tightly focused perspective
Once you’ve nar­rowed the group of cus­tomers that you’re most inter­ested in attract­ing, focus your mes­sag­ing to speak most directly to their felt needs, desires, and frus­tra­tions.  Peo­ple who don’t share those expe­ri­ences will feel excluded, but your core audi­ence will feel an instant con­nec­tion.  Both will instantly rec­og­nize you.  Tim Miles offers a bril­liant exam­ple of this on his “About Us” page.
3.    Explain what costs you’re will­ing to bare and admit the down­side to your offer/product.
This one is more about cred­i­bil­ity than def­i­n­i­tion, but amidst a back­ground of ad-speak, solid cred­i­bil­ity acts as its own form of reverse cam­ou­flage.  Plus, you don’t just want to be seen, right?  You want to be believed as well.
Finally, if all else fails, you can always use your new-found knowl­edge of cam­ou­flage to escape week­end chores (just ditch the boots in favor of camo socks)

epic-win-photos-camo-win1Do you have the courage to say what you’re not?

Most busi­ness own­ers don’t want to draw that sharp line of dis­tinc­tion, and it’s why their mar­ket­ing efforts blend into the clutter.

Dis­cernible edges and sil­hou­ettes allow us to visu­ally iden­tify an object, sep­a­rat­ing its fig­ure from the back­ground “noise.” Elim­i­nate those dis­cernible edges and break up the sil­hou­ette, and you’ll effec­tively cam­ou­flage your­self.

In the top-left pic­ture, you’ll notice how the person’s legs, back­pack, and hat all present a solid sil­hou­ette, with clearly defined edges. They stand out from the back­ground and are eas­ily iden­ti­fied. But the man’s upper body, clothed by the cam­ou­flage pat­tern jacket, blends smoothly into the land­scape. The pat­tern breaks up his sil­hou­ette and blurs his edges into the back­ground of moun­tain­side, snow, and brush. As a result, your eyes end up visu­ally iden­ti­fy­ing the man by his pack­back and hat first, and then squint in to find where his shoul­der, body, and arms “should” be.

This works the same way for adver­tis­ing. Like our eyes, our minds also depend on edges and sil­hou­ettes.  We define by giv­ing para­me­ters, men­tally grasp­ing a con­cept by its bound­aries. With­out the “edges” of con­trast­ing ref­er­ence points, a con­cept or term remains ambigu­ous at best. To know what a donut is, you have to know the dif­fer­ence between a donut and a dan­ish — to know what isn’t a donut.

This is why grab­bing after an “infi­nite” mar­ket and seek­ing to be all things to all peo­ple ends up cam­ou­flag­ing one’s brand and mes­sag­ing; with­out con­trast it all just blurs into the background.

And that’s a good thing because it makes it easy to stand out — if you’ve got the guts. Want to stand out?  Sharply define the edges between you and your com­peti­tors. It’s that simple.

The bet­ter you do this, the more strongly you’ll turn-off some cus­tomers. But wouldn’t you rather pow­er­fully per­suade some of your mar­ket than be over­looked by all of it?

A Bold Exam­ple of Reverse Cam­ou­flage In Action

neurosurgeon1I found this ad in my local news­pa­per and was imme­di­ately struck by the bold headline:

“You don’t want me to be your fam­ily doc­tor.

Pretty ballsy head­line for a doc­tor, huh? Wouldn’t you feel com­pelled to read more about this doc­tor with the courage to so brazenly declare what he wasn’t?

Hav­ing gained the reader’s atten­tion, the body copy fur­ther explains: “Neu­ro­surgery is one of the few med­ical spe­cial­ties for which I am well-suited. I am not warm and fuzzy. I could never be suc­cess­ful as a pedi­a­tri­cian or in a fam­ily prac­tice — no one would come back a sec­ond time. But I am very good at what I do.”

Dr. Good­man then sub­stan­ti­ates his claimed exper­tise with a list of very impres­sive pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions and accom­plish­ments, rounded off with some exam­ples of his extreme com­mit­ment to sur­gi­cal excel­lence and his patients’ well-being.

While his pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions are truly out­stand­ing, most read­ers would never have read them with­out Dr. Goodman’s use of reverse cam­ou­flage in his head­line. Say­ing what he wasn’t allowed Dr. Good­man to stand out amidst the clut­ter.

3 sure-fire ways to reverse-camouflage your messaging:

1. Get your­self an enemy and/or reject a rea­son­able alter­na­tive position

Noth­ing fires the blood quite so much as declar­ing what — or bet­ter yet who — you stand against.  But you get no points for tear­ing down straw men; reject­ing a rea­son­able alter­na­tive posi­tion puts teeth into your message.

2. Present a tightly focused perspective

Once you’ve nar­rowed the group of cus­tomers that you’re most inter­ested in attract­ing, focus your mes­sag­ing to speak most directly to their deeply felt needs, desires, and frus­tra­tions.  Peo­ple who don’t share those expe­ri­ences will feel excluded, but your core audi­ence will feel an instant con­nec­tion.  Both will instantly rec­og­nize you.  Tim Miles offers a bril­liant exam­ple of this on his “About Us” page.

3. Explain what costs you’re will­ing to bare and admit the down­side to your offer/product.

What you’re will­ing to put up with in order to sat­isfy a pas­sion can be as much of a marker of iden­tity as the pas­sion itself. Stick shifts aren’t as pleas­ant to drive in thick traf­fic, but a lot of dri­ving purists wouldn’t have it any other way. Top end kitchen knives require extra care in terms of cut­ting sur­faces and using the right knife for the job, but those are points of pride for Food­ies and Chefs. So admit­ting these down­sides is not only the right and hon­est thing to do, it’s also the per­sua­sive thing to do. And for two rea­sons: 1) as just dis­cussed, it helps enthu­si­asts fur­ther iden­tify with your brand; 2) admit­ting the down­side boosts cred­i­bil­ity — and cred­i­bil­ity acts as its own form of reverse cam­ou­flage amidst a back­ground of hype and BS.

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Cam­ou­flage, I highly rec­om­mend this bril­liant piece in the New York Times.

IronChef-743120Most small & medium-sized busi­nesses DON’T get to cre­ate brand­ing from scratch. That’s the ignored real­ity and dirty truth most adver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing advice ignores.

A suc­cess­ful small busi­ness that’s sur­vived and even thrived for 5 or 15 years already HAS an iden­tity, his­tory, rep­u­ta­tion, etc. So while that busi­ness prob­a­bly won’t have a ready-at-hand Unique Sell­ing Propo­si­tion or Pur­ple Cow to pro­vide to the ad writer, it also won’t rep­re­sent a blank slate either.

So copy­writ­ers either have to FIND some­thing remark­able and rel­e­vant to write about, or they have to con­sign them­selves to gawd-awful hor­ror of ad-speak: “in busi­ness since… with fast friendly ser­vice… for all your ____ needs.”

Bot­tom Line: ad con­sul­tants (and own­ers with­out adver­tis­ing help) have to play Iron Chef — they have to whip up that gourmet dish, not from scratch, and not by fol­low­ing a pre­de­ter­mined recipe, but by mak­ing use of what­ever ingre­di­ents are already on hand.

So let me share two prac­ti­cal tech­niques you can use to make that hap­pen. They might not sound prac­ti­cal, because I’ve given them weird sound­ing tags like “Phi­los­o­phize the Action” and “Do the Phi­los­o­phy,” but they do work, and to quote Murphy’s Laws of Com­bat: “If it’s stu­pid but it works, it ain’t stu­pid.”  At any rate, here are the promised steps:

1) Phi­los­o­phize the Action

actionsFrist, ignore what­ever the busi­ness owner tells you about what she or the busi­ness stands for. Ignore the mis­sion state­ment. Instead, ask the owner what tan­gi­ble, view­able, ver­i­fi­able thing or action she insists on regard­less of whether they can charge extra for it, or can pro­mote it as value-added to the client.  Some­thing they do just because they sim­ply refuse not to do it, or to do it any other way.

Put another way, actions speak louder than words, so focus on the actions. But make sure it’s actions moti­vated by some inner value rather than profit, con­ve­nience, etc.

You’d think this sort of thing would be rare — busi­ness men being in busi­ness to make money and all, you’d think they’d be loath to put effort into a non-profit mak­ing effort or add on — but rather than rare, it’s almost uni­ver­sal; I’ve never not seen it in a pri­vately owned business.

Why is this and why does it matter?

Busi­nesses are owned by peo­ple, and peo­ple can’t help but express their val­ues. I’ve seen this done by var­i­ous own­ers insist­ing on:

  • Pro­vid­ing extra train­ing for their techs,
  • Answer­ing phones within 7 rings,
  • Pay­ing well above mar­ket pric­ing for higher qual­ity mate­ri­als or parts
  • Putting in extra brac­ing, padding, key ingre­di­ents, etc
  • Using only this mech­a­nism and not the more pop­u­lar, eco­nom­i­cal one
  • And so on.

The thing is to dig until you FIND that sort of thing. THEN fig­ure out what val­ues that com­mit­ment com­mu­ni­cates, which brings us to…

2) Act on the Philosophy

Pen vs. SwordNow that you have seen an action that’s insisted on even when it costs the busi­ness owner to insist, you can take that the value that the action expresses and use it to fla­vor other aspects of his business.

So if answer­ing the phone within 7 rings is the action you dug up, then per­haps the val­ues at play are respon­sive­ness and human warmth.  So see if you can’t bake in bet­ter respon­sive­ness and warmth — or expres­sions of the same — into other inter­ac­tions and touch­points with the com­pany.  For exam­ple, a con­trac­tor might make a com­mit­ment to get quotes out in 24-hours and to pro­vide cus­tomers with the names and e-mail addresses of the techs han­dling their accounts.  That sort of thing.

This is dif­fer­ent than a from-scratch ingre­di­ent because it was already on-hand, even if it was hid­den at first — and also because the val­ues are already deeply held by the owner, mean­ing that the sug­ges­tions are more likely to be imple­mented with vigor than sug­ges­tions dreamt up “from scratch.”  Mean­ing that the ads can promise these points of dif­fer­ence with confidence.

Once you’ve gone through step 2, you can now attempt to build some sort of mes­sag­ing, USP, or cam­paign around the uncov­ered value and new points of differentiation.

And since this is Prac­ti­cal Tac­ti­cal Tues­day, you know I’ll make sure to give you an exam­ple. So here’s a case study from the Great Tim Miles that per­fectly illus­trates this tech­nique. Go read it — you’ll be glad you did.

P.S. If you’ve never seen Iron Chef, you should check out this short clip of the open­ing cred­its. It’ll explain a lot : )

YouTube Preview Image

“The longer it takes to explain an idea, the smaller it seems” — Lee Clow

Great ads can deliver an idea like “Win­ning the Bat­tle of the Short List” in less than 30 sec­onds.  Or in the exam­ple below, in 9 short lines and less than 64 words. Bet­ter yet, great ads make you feel the truth of the idea in your gut.

How do they do that?

Usu­ally with drama. Take this mag­a­zine ad I ran into over at the Sell! Sell! Blog:

Mcgraw-Hill.ad

Totally dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence than read­ing my blog post on the same sub­ject, right?

And they cre­ated that expe­ri­ence through short-form drama. They sucked you into a story — smack in the mid­dle of a mini drama — before you even real­ized it.  And while you were men­tally play­ing out that drama, they sucker punched you with the emo­tional truth of the idea. Here’s how:

1) The image of the ad has a high degree of story appeal. The guy is look­ing at you and he doesn’t look happy.  So what’s that all about, right? Appar­ently there’s trou­ble in River City, and where there’s trou­ble, there’s a story.  So curios­ity obliges you to read the copy to fig­ure it out and get the scoop.

2) The copy speaks directly to you, the reader. You are indeed being addressed by this man, and — boom! — at that instant you’re now inside the drama.

3) The copy makes it imme­di­ately and painfully obvi­ous that you’re walk­ing into a tough sell. A very tough sell that get’s tougher with each line of copy from the prospects mouth.

So once you fin­ish read­ing and finally pop out of the mini-drama, the emo­tional truth of the mes­sage hits home. There’s just no deny­ing the truth of that final “Moral.”

The Beauty of Short-Form Drama

So what’s the moral of THIS story?

Moral: Great ad writ­ers do use short form sto­ry­telling and short form drama to cause peo­ple to real­ize the truth of your mes­sage on an emo­tional, gut-feel level. Most adver­tis­ing fails because most ads aren’t writ­ten by ad writ­ers capa­ble of per­suad­ing through short-form drama.

What kind of  per­sua­sion is your ad writer bak­ing into your ads?

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