The Fear Factor
Translating an Emotional Conflict Creates a New Control for a German Publisher
David R. Yale
One of the most successful direct mail packages I've worked on looks like someone doodled on the outer envelope, set a coffee cup on it, and left a ring-shaped stain.
It's a design that's guaranteed to get attention, and once it has that attention, it involves prospects by presenting an emotional conflict they identify with immediately.
When a German publisher of a loose leaf service, "The Best Speeches From A to Z," asked me to create a coffee stain package for it, I jumped at the chance. I would write the package in English, and the publisher would translate it.
The design is simple, but choosing and portraying the emotional conflict involves major strategy decisions. Finding the theme for the conflict wasn't difficult. The publisher's research showed that, just like Americans, Germans are more afraid of giving a speech than dying. And the marketing material the client translated into English gave me a pretty good idea of exactly what would set that fear resonating.
Even though I don't know how to read or speak German, I looked through the actual product to get a feeling for it. I discovered a wonderful German word: Lampenfieber. It means stage fright, and the publisher agreed that Germans would respond to it.
That gave me a headline for the front of the outer envelope: the single word, Lampenfieber. Next, in a handwritten typeface, I added the biggest questions amateur speakers face:
* How do I start?
* How do I end my speech?
* Why do I always speak too long?
The next ingredient in the emotional conflict is the self-doubt that consumes so many speakers, whether they are American or German, and the nagging internal question that sets up the big question: