10 November 2006

Now where is it buried?

We get to see plenty of sales and marketing materials as part of the work that we do. Much of it fails the basic test - to create a reason to find out more, or to buy - because it is written by someone who has forgotten about the audience.

Recently I got the chance to look at some material intended to sell a product. It isn't a product that I would ever buy, but that doesn't change my approach to assessing the technical construction of the material. It is the standard joke in selling that no-one ever got rich by selling electric drills - rich people sell holes. This copy forgot that joke, if the writer had ever heard it. There was nothing in the material to suggest why anyone should buy the product until almost the last line and even then the point was understated. There is a real emotional reason why people will want to buy this product and it has nothing to do with the power of its motor or its colour.

As a piece of writing, the text needed to be turned on its head. The material in the last two sentences could be made into a compelling headline with a little work, and the rest of the copy could be redrafted to reflect why this was the right product to back up the claim in the headline. My point is that there is plenty of this kind of stuff out in the world. Why is that? It doesn't take the imagination of a best-selling novelist to try and understand why people buy a product or a service.

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