Monday, June 16, 2008

"Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind." Rudyard Kipling

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean." Goethe

"Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build one." Sam Rayburn

Today's image: New Day 1600 by myuserid. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Marketing ace Tom Asacker has written an article that deserves your attention. Ball of Brand Confusion [via PDF here], Tom's latest offering, suggests "Marketers are obsessed with words." Tom then goes on to counsel us..."You are not in the words business; you're in the business of adding value to customers' lives."

He's right.

The focus of attention and resources should first be on the product or service experience. There is only one moment of truth, that moment of actual first usage when everything you are is determined, defined by the product or service experience.

Having the right concept while critical to success quickly becomes subordinate to execution.

But what about words? My sense is words, in the context of marketing and advertising, do play an important role in positioning, creating product or service expectations. They may also serve to affirm experience, or not. "Tell the story, take out the good lines and see if it still works" advised Hemingway.

A good example of promotion over product is the movie trailer. Too often the trailer creates expectations the movie simply fails to pay off. The trailer, showing off the movie's best moments, is sometimes better than the movie itself. We are also seeing cutting room floor footage being used in trailers (i.e., scenes not even in the final cut).

Here's the thinking of two brilliant ad men...

"Writing good advertisements is very difficult indeed. But writing good anything is very difficult. I think it was Aldous Huxley who said it is easier to write a passable sonnet than a passable advertisement. I couldn't write a sonnet to save my life, so that's not the case with me." David Ogilvy

"We approach now, and gingerly, the most dangerous word of all in advertising - originality. Here, without doubt, is the Golden Fleece for which all of Madison Avenue is seeking. Here, misty, distant, and infinitely desirable, is the copywriter's Holy Grail. Unfortunately, it has ruined more advertisers than it has ever made, for it has never been defined - and the searchers thus are never sure just what it is they're seeking...This preoccupation with 'originality,' at times, leads writers to absurd extremes. Suddenly, one of the very few truly original advertisements will appear. It may be a great success. Immediately, these writers begin to imitate it - unaware that they are copying merely the form, rather than the concealed gears, pulleys, and mechanisms that the master copywriter has concealed beneath the surface."
Rosser Reeves

From the same classic writing [Reality in Advertising], Reeves reminds us of role when he quotes the legendary copy writer Claude Hopkins "...writers abandon their parts. They forget they are salesmen and try to be performers. Instead of sales, they seek applause."

One more thought from the great genius of Mr Reeves
"...unless the product has a truly unique advantage, as opposed to a pre-empted claim, it is vulnerable to the manufacturer who is willing to spend money on product development and put a dramatically superior product into the field."

For media folks allow me to again sum it up in a sentence: All that's important is what comes out of the speakers and what's on the screen(s), everything else is a footnote.

Bonus: Jessica Person

Congrats & cheers: Casey the K, Lee Harris and all involved in the WLHA Staff Reunion. A wonderful time was had by all this past weekend. Check out the WLHA Tribute Site here.

Have an amazing week. Make something happen!