I Feel Your Pain
Is it sweet and pleasant? Or when you talk, do people wince and stagger backwards?
Now, as you can guess, I'm not really worried about your personal hygiene. But I am concerned about how effectively you're selling your product or service. Which is why I'm going to take a quick look at an old Listerine mouthwash advertising campaign that I think will prove instructive. Here's the story . . .
Years ago, when Listerine's ad agency first got the account, it obviously could have positioned the product in an infinite number of ways. (Just as you can position your product or service in an infinite number of ways.) It could have positioned Listerine as the inexpensive mouthwash, the premium mouthwash, the great-tasting mouthwash, the super-powerful mouthwash . . . You get the point.
Which way did the agency go? It chose to position Listerine as the mouthwash that could prevent "halitosis."
Yup. The agency found out that the scientific word for nasty breath was halitosis and then began a campaign designed to convince everyone that they were at risk for this dreadful disease. If you had halitosis, everyone would talk about you behind your back. The only way to avoid being a pariah was to keep rinsing with Listerine. The advertising agency used the tag line: "He said, that she said, that he had halitosis!"
The result? Listerine mouthwash flew off the shelf.
Yes -- fear and pain are wonderful motivators. That's why I suggest that when you're selling to prospects, you should acknowledge the pain they're in, show them that you understand what they're up against, and explain how you can help them solve their toughest problems.
Where's a good place to start?
How about right at the beginning of your letter, e-mail or Web page. That's the perfect place to let your readers know that you identify with their problems. Let me give you just two examples (from high tech) of how you can use pain to create an immediate bond with your readers. Example #1 was written for individual PC users. Example #2 was written back in 1997, and was addressed to tech professionals.
Imagine that you're sitting in front of your computer, surfing the Web, jumping from site to site . . .
Suddenly you land at a Web page that's loaded with valuable information you know you want to save and use. What options do you have? You can print out the page, but that doesn't get you very much. You can create a bookmark and go back on line every time you want to check it out -- a royal pain in the neck.
Or you can use new DocuMagix HotPage! That's right. HotPage lets you put all the information in Web pages to work for you!
If you're an information systems professional, you face two extremely difficult problems:
Problem #1: Deploying mission-critical applications to hundreds or thousands of users is a nightmare. It wastes endless hours of precious time and costs your company a ton of money.
Problem #2: Your remote users are getting poor performance. If they're accessing mission-critical applications over remote node and branch office connections, they're going s-----l-----o-----w.
That's why it's so important for you to take a WinFrame Test Drive right now. You see, WinFrame extends mission-critical Windows applications to remote users over existing enterprise networks, corporate Intranets and the Internet. Best of all, you can deploy these apps to hundreds, or even thousands of users in a matter of minutes. That's right -- minutes!
The take-away message this month? Don't start your letter or e-mail by talking about how great your company or product is. Begin by demonstrating that you understand your readers' pain ... and you'll be halfway to a sale!
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at email@example.com.