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Web copywriting boosts Amish sales

Those Amish web copy geniuses – who knew?

Every year in fall for the past three years, the friendly people at www.amishfireplaces.com have taken out the same full-page ad in the USA Today, so it must be working. 

The headline: “Public has just 48 hours to get free heaters”. The sub-head is lengthy but powerful: “A new infrared miracle heater is actually being given away free to the first 17,247 readers who call to beat the deadline to order their first miracle heater that drastically slashes home heat bills”.

Copywriting results start with good headlines

Does it pass the “4-U test”? Urgent? 48 hours is pretty urgent. Unique? Who knew that the Amish were involved in infrared technology? (there are two pictures below the headline and body copy showing Amish people) Useful? Slashing home heat bills is pretty useful to about 80% of the U.S. Ultra-specific? It doesn’t get much more specific than 17,247. 

Beyond the headline, though, this ad (and the website copy) illustrates a few principles that are worth re-visiting:

The secret of transubtantiation

The copywriter takes what could seem like a very ordinary space heater and transforms it into your own personal slice of Amish life combined with miracle heat at a ridiculously low cost. Transubstantiation is the creative process of imagining and representing a product or service in a way that is bigger, better, and more valuable than it normally appears.

Forge a personal connection

Both the ad copy and the website copy accomplish this by adopting an intimate voice. The selling voice is natural, honest and sincere. When you can tap your natural selling voice – the one you use to persuade your family, friends and those close to you – you’ll have a powerful tool at your disposal.

Tell your prospect what to do

A given with direct response copy, but surprisingly, even costly full-page spreads in the USA Today often appear without a clear directive. This ad does a brilliant job of explaining what action the prospect must take, narrowed down to exactly what time he can call in to get his heater based on which zone he lives in.

I won’t tell you to “heat up” your own copy with these ideas, but there is something to be said for classic copywriting principles. And if you want to slash your heating bills this winter, there are only 3,281 left.

Then call me at 1-888-207-4916 and we’ll power your website copy up a notch.




Social Media Marketing and Emotion: A Potent Mix

“If language is used incorrectly, what is said is not meant, everything goes to pot, and the people stand around in helpless confusion.”   – Confucius

Social media, the BCS, and traditional advertising

Did you watch the college football BCS title game Monday night between Auburn and Oregon? Auburn won in a great game, but if you’re a student of advertising, you might have also noticed the Tostitos commercial. 

Tostitos, part of the Frito-Lay unit of Pepsi, chose a prime-time spot to launch a new campaign called “Tostitos Reunite America”. The campaign will be promoted through social media and public relations, rather than traditional media like TV or print ads (saving Frito-Lay a ton of money, and possibly just as, or more effective.)

Facebook, YouTube & Twitter go mainstream

A growing list of mainstream food brands like Campbell’s Soup, Coca-Cola, Kraft and PepsiCo are now turning to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to sell their products.

 The goal of the Tostitos campaign is to “bring people together through the power of technology”, says Justin Lambeth, VP of marketing for Frito-Lay. 

What? A tortilla chip bringing people together?

Copywriting and emotional branding

As Nancy Reyes, group account director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (Frito-Lay’s agency) explained, “The emotional benefits drive people to be closer to the brand than the functional benefits. It’s nice to focus on the emotional part of the brand and live out its purpose.” 

Sounds like a basic copywriting principle: “people buy things for emotional, not rational, reasons” (yes, even chips!) 

Check it out yourself: facebook.com/tostitos. You could win a once-in-a-lifetime reunion with one of your own Facebook friends. 

Social media here to stay

You may not have the ad budget to launch on national TV like Tostitos did (then again, maybe you do.) But the same principals apply no matter what the company size – or the market. And the trend of more and more companies using social media is a great sign.

 Are you using social media marketing in creative ways to reach more prospects and customers?



Short Marketing Messages Add Impact

What Horace, Shakespeare, and Lincoln all agree on …

The leading Roman poet under Augustus, Horace said, “Whatever you want to teach, be brief.” 

Shakespeare wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” in 1602 (ironically coming from Polonius, the most notorious windbag in all of literature.) 

Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history, in just over two minutes.  It contained only three paragraphs and 272 words.

 It’s the epitome of brief, meaningful writing. 

The takeaway for marketers? 

Convey your thoughts as briefly and efficiently as possible. Choose your words carefully for maximum impact. Avoid big words when a simple one will do. 

Your advertising will quite likely command more attention, and have more influence.



The Lost Art of Shagging Fly Balls

In the summer of 1975, I began a love affair with baseball that continues to this day. 

My brother and I pooled our money one hot afternoon, bypassed the ice cream man, and bought our very first pack of Topps baseball cards.  Twenty-five cents a pack, if I recall, plus a free stick of really hard bubble gum.  It continued into summer, when my Grandpa introduced me to Bob Uecker and Blatz beer.  Uecker on the radio, listening to Brewers games on the porch at night.  The Blatz introduction was unintentional—what curious eight-year old kid isn’t going to take a sip when Grandpa sends him to the kitchen for another beer? 

My t-ball team’s city championship furthered my love of baseball, and it reached a fever pitch that fall as I watched Carlton Fisk’s 6th game heroics in one of the greatest World Series of all time. 

It was a magical summer, but one that probably thousands of other eight-year old kids experience every summer.  The difference between me and those thousands of other kids, is that my enthusiasm for the game has never waned.  While other kids probably moved on to other diversions, and quickly forgot the excitement of landing an All-Star card, or a 9th inning come-from-behind victory, I’m now 43 years old and still get excited about a bobble-head giveaway at the ballpark, or finding an old Sports Illustrated with Robin Yount on the cover. 

I’ve been to 15 major league stadiums, played catch at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, and made the requisite pilgrimage to Cooperstown.  I own a baseball card collection that would be the envy of most real fans, including like-new Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente cards.  I even stormed the field at the 5th game of the 1982 ALCS between the Brewers and Angels, undoubtedly the most amazing game in Brewers history. 

Those are all great memories, vivid to this day, many years later.  But they pale in comparison to the memories I have of a lesser-known ballpark.  It’s a small field, rarely used anymore, about twenty miles west of Miller Park.  It’s at the corner of Irving Place and Moreland Boulevard in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and I still get goose bumps every time I go past it.  Hawthorne field is what we called it, after the elementary school on the same grounds.  Funny how I spent seven years in school there, but what I remember most happened outside on the ball diamond.  

You see, Hawthorne field is where my Dad would spend hours hitting fly balls to me.  I’m sure there were many times that the lawn needed mowing, or the bushes needed trimming, but in our house, after dinner meant walking a block over to the ball field and shagging fly balls until dark.  Never mind that the skills I developed there weren’t even good enough to land me a spot on my high school team years later.  For a couple hours a night, I felt like a pro, roaming centerfield gracefully as my Dad would hit to my left, to my right, and over my head.  I think I actually developed pretty good instincts, but more importantly, I got to hang out with my Dad, doing something I absolutely loved. 

You rarely see fathers and sons doing this anymore.  Everything’s organized, and even in the organized sports leagues, more often than not, you see moms taking their sons to practice and games.  No offense to mothers everywhere, but women just aren’t as good as men at hitting fly balls to the outfield, and it’s a rare woman who knows what a cutoff man is.  

The bottom line is, there’s a bond between fathers and sons that can only develop by spending quality and quantity time together, doing something that’s truly enjoyed by both.  I’m not sure if my Dad enjoyed hitting fly balls as much as I enjoyed catching them, but I am sure of this.  The time we spent on Hawthorne field, night after summer night, made an indelible mark on my head and my heart. 

Cooperstown will always have its charm.  Fenway, Wrigley, and Yankee Stadium will always have their legends.  But I know where the real Field of Dreams is. 

Thanks for the memories, Dad.



Three Copywriting Tips from “Undercover Boss”

Three copywriting tips from “Undercover Boss”

I’m not a big fan of reality TV, but watching the new CBS show ‘Undercover Boss’ reminded me of three things copywriters can do to write stronger copy.

Each week a CEO goes undercover in his own company to get a better understanding of who his employees are, and how they’re serving their customers.

In the April 4 episode, the CEO of Roto-Rooter goes out and tackles plumbing and sewer work alongside his employees.  He’s not so great at any of it.

Through it all, the CEO recognizes how hard the work is and how hard his employees work.  He is impressed with them at every turn and touched by their life stories.

The lessons for small businesses and copywriters?

Before you ever start writing…

  1. Know your audience.  Best way – you don’t have to go ‘undercover’ exactly like the CEOs do, but research your audience to find out who they really are.  Talk to satisfied users and disgruntled customers.  Conduct a focus group.  Find out your prospects’ dominant emotions. 
  2. Know your product.  Again, go ‘undercover’ to understand your product or service.  Become a customer yourself.  On ‘Undercover Boss’, the CEOs literally get their hands dirty using the company’s product or service, often for the very first time.  And once you start writing…
  3. Sell it emotionally.  The producers at ‘Undercover Boss’ are brilliant at this.  The show tugs at the heartstrings of the viewers, tapping into core positive emotions like generosity and pride.  Remember, people usually buy for emotional reasons (and are later solidified logically.) 

Through it all, the power of the show lies in the one-on-one interaction between the CEO and the individual employees.  Last reminder: always write to one person.

Follow these three simple lessons, and your copy will stand out the way ‘Undercover Boss’ stands out amongst a sea of mediocre (and bad) reality shows.

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About Steve Roller

Steve Roller started Web Content Copywriting to help you maximize your web content and get more customers.

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