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?
Copywriting is the business of misleading people to buy things they don’t need with the money they don’t have.
Well it’s not that we copywriters tell outright lies to convince people. Sometimes it’s just about too much fluff.
While most of my clients these days understand that effective communication involves a clear, concise message with a touch of personal warmth, I do get enquiries to work on the old ‘catchy-punchy-juicy’ stuff.
I tend to steer clear from these kinds of requests because, well, the fluff isn’t all that convincing. We’re dealing with young, smart consumers whom are becoming increasingly averse to marketing speak and vague catchphrases.
We’ve all seen those websites, brochures, corporate profiles or even mail drops that are full of meaningless superlatives, mindless ramblings and generic ‘industry’ word play. That’s either a sign of a novice copywriter or a client unwilling to adapt to evolving consumer mindset.
Consumers just want you to tell it as it is so they can then decide whether to do business with you. Besides, none of us want to nor have the time to make sense of textual mumbo jumbo.
If you still want to take the fluffy route, beware of these pitfalls:
Can you deliver as promised?
Fluff raises consumer expectations, and they expect you to deliver as fluffed. Can you?
Bye-bye repeat business
Once fluffed, twice shy. When all that fluff falls flat, the customer goes to your competitor.
Risk of attracting negativity
We live in a very social world. One disgruntled customer can start a negative crusade against your business.
Even if telling it as it is goes against convention, your product or service can still shine through and appeal to your intended target audience. A case in point is a company in Wisconsin, USA that tells the absolute truth, even it may result in some consumers not buying their product.
Ahhh… I wish I wrote that.
Yes, I admit it. The thing that I dislike most about my profession as a copywriter is coming up with names.
For me, names are personal. Think about it this way, would you ask another person to name your newborn baby?
You created it, you name it. And I believe the same analogy should apply to companies, products and brands as well. The person who created them should be the ones naming them.
Indeed, we copywriters can help name your product or service. But there will always be a sense of disconnect when we – a third party – attempt to create a name for something that holds many intrinsic values.
I always suggest to my clients to give naming a shot. And sometimes they find it very difficult, even when they themselves have incepted the product or service. So you can imagine how difficult it would be for me?
However, nothing is easy. So here are 5 key considerations to naming that might help:
1. Sensory Appeal
Ideally, a name should be able to activate any one, or better yet all five senses. A name that people can see, smell, taste, feel or hear subconsciously creates a sensory experience that’s memorable. A brand name like Apple activates all senses.
2. Service is Serious
The game changes slightly when it comes to naming a service though. People expect services to be credible, trustworthy and professional, and a name should reflect these qualities. Don’t ask me how.
3. Be Uncommon
Habituation is a human trait where we are desensitised by all the common things around us. You name needs to rise above the clutter or people will tune-out. Do you really want to be another ‘Pro-something’ or Expert-something’ or ‘something-Solutions’?
4. Break It Down
Break any names that you come up with into syllabuses. Read out aloud every syllabus to make sure nothing sounds unsavoury. This is especially useful in Malaysia, where multiple languages are spoken. I once saw a Bengkel Tah Yik… seriously!
These days, securing the URL you want can be a real pain. So make sure your name list is domain checked as early as possible because you will surely need to have a website. Sites like www.namestation.com is worth a try too.
If all else fails, do what I did. I just used my name for my business. It may not be the most ideal name, but it’s a true reflection of me.