Yelling is NOT Selling…

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Do you believe that Carlsberg is “probably the best lager in the world”? I mean REALLY believe it? Probably not. I’m not sure I do, either. But then, truth be told, my opinion is worthless, considering I drink neither lager nor beer (I did try to train myself to like both during my alcohol-fuelled rite of passage as a student, but my taste buds were having none of it!).

OK, I get the joke. The “probably the best” line — first used in the 1970s and evolving in many different directions over the years — is saying that Carlsberg drinkers are successful but enjoy having a laugh at themselves. Some would say that the slogan is taking a swipe at the advertising industry as a whole.

But, as refreshing as the original slogan is, it’s a difficult claim to substantiate.

If you are going to make a bold statement such as Carlsberg’s, then surely you need to have a product that’s good enough to back it up. This, however, is a major flaw in Carlsberg’s slogan. My other, better half — a fairly keen lager drinker — is adamant that Carlsberg is NOT the best lager in the world. He doesn’t really like it. Plenty others agree, he assures me, preferring the likes of Stella, Becks, Grolsch and, for the flat and malty beer brews, Hoegaarden and Erdinger Hefe.

Feel the Difference

Consider another outlandish claim: “The best a man can get”; can you tell what it is yet?  ;0) 

Apart from putting on a blindfold and seeing if you can feel the difference between Gillette’s twin-blade swivel-head razor and, say, the equivalent from Wilkinson Sword (er, blindfolded? No thanks! Imagine the agony of all those razor cuts!), one has to guess that Gillette is simply using its market dominance to fudge over the fact that it really isn’t the best a man can get. (Is it?!)

I’d have thought a new Ferrari might arguably have the edge for most men. But not according to Gillette. Nope, give your nearest and dearest a good shave any day of the week. Even if he does prefer another brand of disposable plastic razor.

Spread the (Believable) Word

So, would YOU get away with such blatant cheek? I’m willing to bet “no”.

For a start, you’re unlikely to be the market leader in your field. (Yet.) And I’d wager that you’d rather stick the razor in your right eye than spend countless millions advertising on an ‘airless’ claim.

So you’re left with only one choice: Show your target market PROOF of how your product or service will benefit them. Provide evidence such as facts and figures, awards, testimonials, case studies and so on. You do NOT have to have millions or thousands to do this effectively. Crikey, you can even get away with a shoestring budget and make an impact . . . while maintaining your credibility.

In the 21st century, cynicism is running at all-time high. Your prospective customers are not going to believe that you have the “best” this or the “greatest” that unless you can walk your talk. Really, they are not. Not on face value, in any case.

Show, Don’t Tell

A client recently told me that her company is the “Number one choice for offering financial advice.”

“Great!” I said, with an obvious air of flippancy. “Now prove it.” (I’m a LOT nicer than this makes me sound. Really. See my client feedback, if you don’t believe me!)

When I was a journalism student, my tutor used to repeatedly say that the key to a great story was “show, don’t tell”. After all, anyone can promise the best quality, service and reliability day in, day out. But your prospects won’t believe it until they either experience it firsthand or are shown evidence of some kind.

The best writers are able to get their readers to ‘see’ the story, as if a personal movie was running in the reader’s mind. Authors don’t state that the main character was afraid, for example, but instead show through description the sheer terror running through the character. This same principle can be applied to advertising and marketing.

Think carefully about the messages you are sending to your prospects. And always, always back up your claims with benefit statements, testimonials, pictures of your product in action, quotes or stats from scientific-research studies and more ‘proof’ elements.

Be ruthless — push yourself hard: Be a “yeah, yeah, right” sceptic when you read every single sentence of your marketing message (and certainly BEFORE you send it out to prospects). What can you change to make your copy almost impossible to refute?

Any business can strengthen its advertising or marketing efforts by improving the credibility of what is being said or implied. And doing so doesn’t have to cost the equivalent of a fleet of yachts. Simply foster confidence in your prospective customers’ minds and the world is your oyster. Probably. ;0)

By Tracey Dooley, Copywriter Creative Consultant


If you’re not sure how to create your most compelling offer or marketing message in the first place, then now is the time to take action. As well as offering worksheets and home-study tools, I can give you profit-multiplying advice and pointers on things you can do straight away to attract new business with my Powerfully Effective Marketing sessions. 

(Why struggle needlessly when you can get expert help from a seasoned copywriter?)

(C) 2008-12 T Dooley, All Rights Reserved

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