I recently asked a group of 14 men to share a snapshot from their photo albums of random memory, a vivid image, unfaded, a moment inexplicable, captured forever by a long-ago click of that camera in the brain.
Here’s what they handed me on scraps of paper:
“Trish’s laugh as she walked out of the room on the day we met.”
“How my knee bled when I crossed the line.”
“Father Caprio lifting the fear of failure from my fifteen year-old shoulders.”
“Game nearly over, rain pouring, no time outs remain. A seven year-old says, ‘Coach, I gotta go to the bathroom.’ I say, ‘No time-outs. Go in your pants.’ He does. We win.”
“The sight of my mother driving into the park an hour after I nearly drowned.”
“Seeing my Dad lying in a hospital bed after a liver transplant, hundreds of tubes running out of his body.”
“Trevor’s face after I beat him in a footrace – two things had died – our friendship, and something in his eyes.”
“Holding her hand as we said a prayer and goodbye.”
“Walking onstage for the first time at age 40 to play a sold-out show for screaming fans.”
“Seeing my one year-old nephew’s lifeless body.”
“Cleaning two garbage bags full of fish in the bathtub with my Dad.”
“Ringing the bell to start a local wrestling match when I was seven.”
“The car ride with my parents as we drove across town to pick out a puppy.”
“Walking through the haunted hallway to get to the playground on the other side.”
(That last one about the haunted hallway almost sounds like a metaphor for life, doesn’t it?)
My point today is this: Each of us lives in a private world alone, trapped by our own opinions, limited by our own attitudes, guided by our own experiences. Sometimes I wonder how we’re able to relate to each other at all.
And yet we create ads under the assumption that customers are all alike.
When writing ads:
1. Never assume that other people think like you do. You’ve got to be willing to see your own opinions as those of an irrelevant freak.
2. Never assume that other people make decisions using the same criteria you use. EXAMPLE: A product comes in two sizes. A ten-ounce package costs a dollar. A forty-ounce package costs two dollars. Half the people will buy the ten-ounce package because it’s cheaper. The other half will buy the forty-ounce package because it’s cheaper.
3. Never assume your ad to be relevant to more than 10 percent of the people who encounter it. There is no such thing as the general public.
4. Never write to “everyone.” An ad written to an individual is always more effective than an ad written to a faceless mob.
Click the highlighted word in any of the quotes above to see how a random quote can be used as a persona-target at which to aim your ad writing.
I’ll see you next week.
Same time. Same computer.
Roy H. Williams
Oct. 16 – Publish a book, Build a Career.
Oct. 11 – Academy Reunion 2008
Oct. 21 – Eisenberg Website Workshop (Once a year! Only 24 allowed.)
Oct. 30 – Marketing to Women (with the incredible Michele Miller!)