The Hook – Give Me One Reason to Stay Here
Like monkeys and small children, customers gravitate towards any shiny object.
In the immortal words of Tracy Chapman, “Baby, just give me one reason…” That is all your potential customers need – one reason that resonates with them, one detail that grabs their attention.
You should aim for substantive, compelling reasons whenever possible. But, trick of the trade: stupid details – the marketing equivalent of crumpled up aluminium foil – often do the trick.
Case in Point:
Tricky old Häagen-Dazs’s little line of copy, “Made with 100% Madagascar Vanilla”.
Häagen-Dazs (no stranger to marketing gimmicks, they of faux-European umlauted name) used this line of copy in the mid- to late-noughties to promote their vanilla ice creams in advertising, packaging and storefront displays. It sounds exotic and premium, something that catches your eye and makes you pause. “Oooohhhh, vanilla from MADAGASCAR!”
Little does the consumer know that 97% of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar. (True fact.)
To Hook the Consumer, You Need Details
A generic description provides no hook, there is nothing for the consumer to grasp onto, no little shiny trinket to catch the light in the consumer’s passing gaze.
Identify details that will add some flair. Some details possess flair simply because of intrigue; they have an interesting angle – vanilla from MADAGASCAR!, fabrics woven by REAL HILLTRIBES! Other details serve as hooks because they answer a rational need or because they activate an emotional desire.
Probably the oldest copywriting technique is the features-benefits list. Unless you’re a total copywriting virgin, you know this already. If you are pure and chaste, let me have the honour of popping your sacred marketing cherry: benefits trump features. For most industries and most audiences, the reader cares much less about a feature than what that feature does for them.
When you start to work on copy for a project, list out the features in one column. Then in the opposite column, list the benefit(s) for each feature. (e.g. “gel-flex engineered soles” is a feature of the sneakers you’re selling; “they enable you to run faster” is a benefit.) Select one benefit to be the star of your message. If you are sure they will not dilute your message, you may want to address other benefits as well.
And when all else fails… shiny objects.