Make Your Message Bounce With a Game of Verbal Tennis

tennis_racket.jpgI’m currently reading Geoff Livingston’s New Media Primer Now Is Gone (a great read for anyone seeking practical advice on how to use new media in a marketing strategy). In the introduction, Brian Solis makes a point that really got me thinking.

“Conversations are driving the new social economy…Messages are not conversations. This is where most companies and PR people fall down. People just don’t communicate that way…Markets are not comprised of audiences…This is about speaking with, not “to” or “at” people.”

I couldn’t agree more and it got me thinking – what’s the difference between a message and a conversation?

Obviously, a message is one-way communication and a conversation is not. Rather, a conversation is like verbal tennis where words and ideas bounce back and forth between both parties.

Think of it this way…

A “message” is like playing shotput. You put all your effort into forcing information forward. It’s not about having the ball returned, instead it’s about pushing as hard and far as you can. The problem with verbal shot put is that there’s little room for feedback or interaction with your customers, which increases the risk of a missed message.

Shotput is not about being accurate, it’s about using your energy to blast your message far and long. While this strategy used to work when the landscape was less competitive, the goal of communication in this new paradigm is to make your message bounce.

How to do this?

1. Statements vs. Questions – A simple way to encourage conversation is by asking a question instead of a making a statement.

Example:
Shotput: You’ll save money and time with Product X
Tennis: What would you do with an extra 30 minutes a day? Use Product X, find out, and then tell us about it!

2. Yes/No vs. Open-Ended – The type of question also determines the game you’re playing. Yes/No questions solicit short and boring responses. While traditional sales training encourages the use of questions that “will always result in a yes,” I believe consumers are smart enough to pick up on this sales tactic and quickly pack up their attention and leave when they sense its use. Opting for honest and conversational open-ended questions is a successful strategy.

Example:
Shotput: Are you looking to save money and time? Then buy Product X.
Tennis: What would you do with an extra 30 minutes a day? Use Product X, find out, and then tell us what you did! (Imagine coupling this with a prize to entice customers to submit stories)

3. Go beyond WWWWW&H – Questions aren’t the only way to get the ball bouncing. Using “feeling” verbs is a great way to encourage your customer’s imagination. Try peppering your copy with words like “imagine” or “discover” and allow your reader’s mind to soar.

Example:
Shotput: Product X will make you feel 10 years younger.
Tennis: Remember how you felt when you were 10 years younger? Imagine feeling that way again. Product X can help.

Ready to return the serve? Just write a comment below. 🙂

Related Links

Why Great Copy Is a Conversation, Not a Soliloquy – Dan O’Sullivan

Beware of Self Congratulatory Web Copy – Laura Bergells

Ad Copy That Attempts to Say Everything – Sometimes Says Nothing – Marc Davison

Adventures in Amazing Copywriting #6 – Creating Conversation

aussieshampoo.pngThis week’s adventure brings us Down Under with Aussie’s revamped branding. You may recognize their mascot – the iconic kangaroo and their signature purple bottle. But what catches my eye is the overwhelming personality of the product descriptions.

I’ve been an Aussie fan for years and on my list this weekend was to pick up more product for my personal stash. Since the brand rollout, Aussie has introduced new products, which gave me a perfect excuse to take some time to read each description. (Yes, I do enjoy reading the backs of shampoo bottles in my spare time – when they’re well written.) You know the copywriter has done a good job when I’m laughing out loud in the middle of the aisle.

My favorite description comes from their “Clense & Mend” line:

Front:
“Sometimes your roots are greasy, your ends are frazzled and your car won’t start. This helps two of those problems.”

Back:
“Listen…we’ve all got problems. If yours include greasy roots and frazzled ends, Cleanse & Mend shampoo can cease the crease and quench the tips. If your problems include greasy tips and frazzled roots, you’re in deep trouble.”

Directions:
Work through your other problems as you work this through your clean, damp hair. Rinse well and prosper.”

And I’m also a fan of their new “sprunch” spray:

Description:
“Combine a kickin styling spray with a little scrunch and what do you get? That’s right – Sprunch”

Directions:
“Spray into your hair as you style. Pretty clever, huh? Spray it all over to set your style, which is even more clever. Clever-er, if you will.”

Tagline:
Add some Roo to your do.

Why this works:

1. Understand Your Target Market. Aussie understands their target market which, I’m guessing is 16 to 35 year old women who are hip, thrifty and down to earth. This style of copywriting might not resonate with everyone, but that’s okay. The quirky conversation tugs at the heartstrings (and pursestrings) of the people who matter most.

2. Conversational Copy Creates Emotion. The overall goal of any copywriting is to sell. When a product or service uses a conversational and descriptive style, an emotional connection is made with the consumer. This emotional connection leads to increased brand loyalty which adds to a customer’s lifetime value.

3. Stand Out. Let’s face it, facts, figures and features are BORING! As a consumer, I have far to much information to filter out already, so to make me notice you – you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. Conversational copy can help you do just that.

Related Links

Dawud Miracle – “Maybe The Best Copywriting Tip Ever”

Scott H Young – “Ten Skills Everyone Should Have”

Open IT Strategies – “Finding a voice people can understand”