The Supreme Rule of Marketing Writing You Need to Know.
Whether you’re selling crime fiction, pitching an idea to your boss, or hawking toupees, you need to let an audience know that what you’ve got is available. But that’s not enough. You need to say, “Hey, this is for sale and here’s why you care.”
And that last part is key.
So here’s my Supreme Rule of Marketing Writing:
It’s all about the benefit to the customer.
I know it’s deceptively simple, but think about it. When you make a pitch through an ad, a cover letter, or whatever else, the person on the receiving end knows you’re trying to sell them something. And what’s going on in their head boils down to one thing: Why do I care?
Well, it’s your job to tell them why they care. And don’t confuse features with benefits!
Features vs. benefits using toupees:
“The Fabrico 9000 hairpiece is made with the ultimate in gluing technology and hyperhirsut synthetics.”
Those are features … completely made-up features, sure, but still features. It’s what’s in the product. If you want to sell it effectively, you need to look at those features and ask yourself who gives a damn and why. Then you’re left with something like:
“Look and feel confident for years to come with affordable, life-like hair!”
In this case, the benefits are the confidence and the savings you’re offering your customer. This is the stuff they really care about.
The first sentence says what the product has that makes it special. The second tells your audience what that special thing means to them. Too often, people who are doing the selling are so close to the product it’s hard to see the basic benefits it offers. You can use the ultimate in gluing technology until your eyes pop out, but if you don’t clearly translate it into a benefit for your consumer, who cares?
To sum up:
To get the most out of your marketing, you have to tell your audience how it benefits them. It saves time. It makes them more attractive. It makes them smarter. It makes all the dog poop in their yard disappear. Even if you’re querying an agent about your novel, remember that he’s not interested in your book because you’re the next William Faulkner; the agent’s interested in it because he can sell your novel and get 15%.
Let me put it this way: Would you rather read a weekly blog on writing? Or would you like to take your writing from boring to brilliant in just 500 short words a week?
Perhaps I should post about the dangers of overstating your benefits. But that can wait for another week. ;-)
© Nathanael Green and 500 Words on Words, 2009.