What happens when you invite a bunch of people, let them sample your product and allow them to speak their mind? Let’s see…
This month marks my third year as a fulltime freelance copywriter. And if you add the 13 odd years I was an agency-employed copywriter, you can say I’ve seen many groundbreaking campaigns.
From the era of experiential marketing and digital 2.0 to current industry buzzwords such as disruptive marketing and hashtag-strategies; the ad game has evolved to the point of mutation.
But no matter what you do, people will continue to form their own opinions – be it positive or otherwise – about a product or service.
The blind ‘taste test’ for Laphroaig (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) reveals an important aspect of consumer behaviour.
They prefer to think for themselves.
We as advertisers can only mould consumers to think a certain way via a concept, proposition or message. But often have no control of how they might interpret our messaging or imagery.
In the case of Laphroaig, they embraced the opinions of their focus group – made up of people who may or may not have consumed the product previously – and went on to create print ads without filtering even the negative comments.
Now, that took some balls.
Granted the product is an intoxicating beverage and there is a certain degree of creative freedom afforded.
But come on… ‘tastes like burning hospital’ as part of a headline? You got to give the people at Laphroaig some props. There are more versions of the print campaign actually, which I urge you to check out.
And the best part, the agency’s copywriter didn’t even have to think of a catchy, punchy and juicy headline; the consumers did it.
Now I want to do a focus group-inspired campaign too… anyone?
Look, I believe in advertising, especially since I’ve toiled in the industry as a copywriter for the past 15 years or so.
But I also believe some things should not be advertised. While most products and services can benefit from incisive communication strategies coupled with compelling creative executions and targeted message dissemination; I believe those in the ad industry itself should not be advertising themselves.
In recent months, I’ve seen newspapers proclaiming that ‘print is the way to go’ and radio stations promising ‘increased sales’. And the fact that they are advertising in their own pages and airwaves seemed rather desperate.
Advertisers (or clients) will naturally go where there is a large audience. I think media owners should work on strengthening their audience base rather than proclaiming that their medium is a cure-all for communication conundrums.
It’s so obvious that the digital and social revolutions are giving traditional media – especially Print and Radio – stiff competition in terms of ad revenue. These traditional players must begin to realise that they cannot remain unchallenged and must improve on content and engagement, whilst embracing the future of communication.
It will take more than just advertising in-own-media to pry the ad Ringgits that are increasingly being channeled towards online advertising. And we all know that advertising a substandard product will only make it fail faster.
But then again, here are some interesting bits to chew on, based on a 2013 Global Survey of Trust in Advertising by Nielsen for Malaysia:
- 72% of consumers in the country trust newspaper ads
- Credibility of traditional advertising remains high compared to online paid media
- Trust in digital ads such as online banners and social media hover at around 50%
- Confidence in online advertising is swiftly growing, with ad spend forecast to touch US$34 billion in Asia Pacific by 2015
- Word-of-mouth still remains the best form of advertising, at 86% trust level
So, while traditional advertising still plays a major role in ad campaigns and strategies, online advertising is fast catching up and cannot be ignored any longer.
Traditional media owners have realised this, hence the desperate attempt to advertise themselves. Only time will tell how long they can remain profitable while clutching to fading hopes.
And in case you didn’t notice, word-of-mouth is still and will always be advertising’s top performer. Maybe it’s wise to spark conversations rather than pour money down the media drain.
If you’re a guy that’s currently trying to woo the love of your life, then you would know that your attempts are ridden with challenges.
In addition to convincing your potential suitor that you’re not a serial rapist, you must also appeal to her heart, mind and soul. Easier said than done, especially when women have the uncanny ability to sense jerks and see through fakery.
Women get hit on more times than we guys can even imagine; so more often than not their initial reaction is to seem disinterested or be wary. Much like how we consumers think that every piece of promotional message – be it in ads, sales calls or e-mails – are too good to be true.
So before she switches off for good, here are a few tips based on copywriting essentials that could help you close the deal, or at least improve your chances:
1. Open with a Bang
Before you get the wrong impression, let me set this straight. In copywriting, the first words the consumer reads or hears are critical. Better yet, if you are able to weave in a benefit at first contact, such as a headline that answers the question “what’s in it for me?” In the case of courting, don’t just ask her out, instead find out what she enjoys and propose an outing with specifics. Example: do you want to join me for a sunset picnic this weekend?
2. Be Persuasive
But not pushy. There are certain words we copywriters use to subtly influence consumers in their decision making process. I’ve written about these power words in a previous post that you may want to check out. In the same vein, courting is also about using subtle influences to compel a desired outcome. Not only in words, but gestures, confidence and mannerisms… just take it easy or you risk looking pushy.
3. Highlight What’s Worthy
Nobody reads, and this is especially true today where people just scan through text in search of only the interesting bits. That’s why copywriting these days involve heavy use of subheads, crossheads and bullet points to highlight the more compelling points. In the same way, you’ve got to appreciate her attention and get to the interesting bits of the conversation quickly. No two hours stories about your grandma, please.
4. Maintain Authenticity
Believe it or not, we copywriters tend to be as genuine as possible when crafting our prose. We may misdirect but never mislead or overpromise, because we hate it ourselves when promises fall flat. So while courting, stay true to yourself and most importantly be believable; women are as likely as consumers to smell the rat.
5. Focus on the Relationship
Ideally, copywriting is the art of making a sale. But before consumers can part with their money they must know, like and trust you. It is a long-term process that emphasizes on building relationships than just making a sale. So before a woman parts with her heart, mind and soul, you must endeavour to work on the relationship and build trust. It takes time, but the rewards will be worth it.
And in case you’re wondering, this doesn’t apply for courting guys, we’re easy… aren’t we?