Where's Waldo, and can you feel him? He's gotta be in there somewhere...
Have you written an advertisement? Can you see your customer in there? Can you see the customer’s problem? Can you see the solution? Can you see your customer feeling good about calling you?
Then you haven’t written an ad yet.
And, hint: making the customer feel good is not about offering a low price. That’s not an ad. It’s an announcement about an available transaction.
"Come! Spend!" is not a message that wins hearts. Even Walmart knows that. At least in offering you lower prices, they promise you'll live better.
But I digress. The faithful reader to the weekly screed has beard me bang the drum for Howard Gossage.
A rebel ad man who died too young, Gossage was an iconoclast who knew how to engage and entertain. Gossage is also the man who gave us a famous quote…
“People do not read advertising—they read what interests them, and sometimes that’s advertising.”
One way to know you’ve created a good ad is that you enjoy reading it, watching it or listening to it.
You don’t tire of being subjected to it. It always seems fresh. You'd be happy to show it to someone else. (Even if it's radio. A good radio commercial paints an enormous picture.)
Gossage suggested that if advertising was to gain professional respect, it required that we “look at ourselves and our audiences differently. And then the audience will look at advertising differently: as a public service.”
That doesn’t mean to try and be Subaru and go bragging about saving the planet.
It means speaking to your customer as if you were speaking to someone you care about.
Or, to be more blunt, we can quote Ogilvy…
“The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife.”
Ouch. Blunt, indeed.
Are you writing an advertisement?
Are you trying to see your customer in there?
Are you feeling the customer’s pain? Are you feeling good about the relief you’re providing?
Are you feeling good about the chances of your customer calling you?
Yes, it can be difficult. But the customer matters. And too many ads don’t have any room for the customer.
A spouse. A sibling. A friend. A lover.
Pretend the customer is someone you know well.
Write that person a letter about what is really so great that thing is that you’re trying to sell.
It might not make a great ad.
But it will feel better than anything else you’ve written. And it will inform what you really want your ad to say.
And creating a better ad feels really good.
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.