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When advertising is done crudely, such as the Malboro Man, it's obvious. So obvious that peeps tend to mistake the marketing as the message. For example thinking that the people behind Malboro came up with this idea, that you'd think you were John Wayne or Clint Eastwood just for smoking their cigs. My, what crude and ineffective advertising huh?
In truth the product was matched with rugged individuals of an outdoorsy and independent nature, who wanted their smoke harsh and tasty enough to feel it outdoors, even on a windy day. It was perfect product positioning and one of the most successful campaigns ever - yet is virtually the poster child of "bad advertising".
Same with fuels. When was the last time you said you were "stopping for fossil fuel"? For a start it's in a particular form, gas/petrol, and even today if I say "tiger in your tank" you probably know I'm talking about Shell gas.
You write TO your intended audience, not ABOUT the product.
...no-one buys "tobacco", they buy Malboro, Silk Cut, perhaps Old Holborn.
Actually, in the corner of London in which I resided for 20 or so years, the word 'tobacco' was in everyday usage, particularly among those who rolled their own and had no brand loyalty.
...if I say "tiger in your tank" you probably know I'm talking about Shell gas.
No, I'd think of Esso...
Oh, don't get me wrong, I agree entirely with the age old principle of selling the sizzle, not the sausage. As we all know, it works.
As someone who smokes tobacco (Old Holborn in the UK,
"Pohn Sagu" in Malaysia) I can assure you very few people don't care about the brand, as unlike conventional cigarettes there's a very noticable difference between different brands.
I'd rather go without a cigarette than smoke Golden Virginia for example, though it sells more than Old Holborn.
I'm not talking so much about the sizzle as the CUSTOMER. What resonates with them, what's THEIR "sizzle"?
Drop the word "sales" for a moment - "How fast can you write a powerful letter?". Your first question should not be "What about?" but "Who am I writing to?".
Your entire writing style, language, reading level, stance, pretty much everything, comes down to WHO and backed up by what makes THEM interested? What do they like, dislike? What do they hate? What do they love? What are they scared of? What's held them back in the past? What are their problems? What solutions have they tried?
Sticking to a subject already mentioned, Esso gas, spend 20 minutes with google trying searches such as "What I love about Esso", "what I hate about Esso", "I think Esso", "Esso should", "if Esso" and note the results.
Now you already know what people love and hate about the brand, what they think of them, what peeps think they should do - and that's just the brand. More to the point, "I love gas station", "I hate gas station..." etc.
It doesn't always suit every product (and is a poor fit for fuel or gas stations) but it's a very useful way of doing instant 'market research'. For me that's just the first step; like I said I'll spend at least 2 weeks just researching the market and finding the ideal customer. Then I write DIRECTLY to them and screw everybody else.
Write like your lifestyle depends on it. Because it does.