The Word Works

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Saying everything won't sell. Say one thing well.

Published By: John on 03/02/13
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Reading this essay, I wish I had read it much earlier. A younger me would have had fewer problems as a teacher, a scholar, and later an adman if I had had the good sense not to try to show off everything I thought I knew every time I spoke up.image

I am listening to the orientation for the campaign to launch a new product. There is a long list of sales points, each of which is important to the client, who wants to communicate them all. I understand his feelings. Several hundreds of millions of yen will be spent on this campaign, and in tough times like these the client has to find some way to sell his product.
To cover all eight points in a 15-second TV spot is, however, impossible. In newspapers on on the Web it might be possible to list them all.  But TV or print, that kind of communication is meaningless.
In Japan, design and manufacturing technology are mature. People who obsessively check every product spec are rare. When you buy an electric fan, the blades will turn. Whichever car you choose,  you don’t have to worry about breakdowns. Product quality is no longer something that consumers check. They assume that, “If it comes from a reputable maker, that’s sufficient.” They have no reason to to worry about product quality.
In today’s market, however, products without a single clear edge can’t win. A long list of benefits weakens the message and destroys the product’s presence in the market place. Without that one compelling benefit, the message is weak; the product won’t stand out. Products without a strong “Something new!” start out too slowly and never achieve strong sales.
If a TV commercial has one overwhelming benefit to talk about,  we can ignore the other features. If we communicate that one key point successfully, consumers won’t worry about the rest. The more we run on, however, jumbling together this point and that one, like running our fingers through a heap of precious stones, the weaker that one, absolutely important, point becomes. The product loses its raison d’être.
If the hair tonic says “prevents dandruff,” “prevents itching,” “keeps scalp healthy,” “protects against sunburn,” and “prevents dryness,” what happens?  We lose sight of the key claim, that it helps hair grow and prevents baldness.

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