The Right Place for Passion
It seems that every business these days claims to be "passionate" about what they do.
Take Microsoft for example. Their current tagline is, "Your potential. Our passion."
Frankly, I think this line is overblown and unbelievable. I mean, let's ask a very fair question: Is Microsoft really passionate about my potential or yours? Of course not. In my view, "Your potential. Our passion," is pure puffery. (I think it would be far better for Microsoft to let ME take care of my potential and for THEM to become more passionate about operating system security.)
Or, consider the tagline of international accounting firm Grant Thornton: "A passion for the business of accounting."
Is this for real? I mean, I can understand how you can have a passion for saving the rain forests or ending world hunger . . . but a passion for accelerated depreciation? Give me a break!
If you are wondering why copywriters are giving "passion" a lot of air-play these days, let me suggest a simple answer: If you are a copywriter who doesn't want to bother doing a whole lot of thinking, you write what everybody else is writing.
That's the ticket. Follow the herd and you're automatically "with it." You're contemporary, up-to-date and SAFE.
That's why writers who are asleep at the switch settle for clichés like, "Try American Widgets. You'll be glad you did," or "Experience the American Widgets difference." The clients of unimaginative copywriters, of course, pay the price. Banal, cliched copy is invisible and never gets results.
Let me give you a wonderful example of some thoughtful writing, not from my own work, but from a very unexpected source.
I was walking in San Francisco last week and saw a house painter's van parked on the street. Here's what the sign on the side panel said:
We care a little too much.
I just love that! The name of the firm, Persnickety Painters, is loaded with personality and suggests that jobs are done carefully and professionally. The wonderful subheadline is a little joke at the company's own expense, suggesting that they're aware of their obsession for persnickety perfection.
Delightful. And I bet other people noticed the van's fun message too.
The take-away message this month? Don't settle for the mindless phrase du jour that everyone else is using. Work hard to find the magic words that will motivate your readers and get them to ACT.
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.