Friday, June 27, 2014

Write Your Ad to One Specific Person

Christmas Eve, Nineteen Sixty-Five. He didn't know if he would make it. Nine months of active duty, he missed his family. And he was an uncle now. His sister had a baby girl, a precious little child for which a stuffed animal from an airport gift shop just wouldn't do.  
As his dad picked him up in the family sedan, he asked, “We got time to stop by the Toy House?”
“Of course, son. Welcome home.” 
Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson where Christmas magic happens.

I talk a lot about speaking to the heart of your customer. But which heart? Too often we try to include as many people as possible in our ads. We write them to reach the widest audience. But the wider we cast our net, the shallower the net can go.

If you really want to snag the best customers, you have to go deep, not wide. Write your ad to one specific person in the language that he or she will understand the most.

The ad above was written to anyone who has a loved one who has served in the military. They got that ad. They got it deeply. Others may not. You might not. But I wasn't writing to you.

My buddy Rick says (and I paraphrase)... You can blast your ad to Everyone, but in the process you won't reach Someone. I would add that you'll end up moving No One.

Write your ad to Someone, not Everyone, and speak to that Someone's heart.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS The best example I've ever seen is the store Bras That Fit. Yes, they sell bras in hard-to-find and custom sizing. Yes, they sell primarily to women. Yes, they sponsor an ESPN Radio talk show. Sports. Men. Bras??  Their message is simple... "Hey guys, tired about hearing your wife complain about her bra not fitting?" They are targeting a very specific group - married men whose wives complain about their bras - and it works!

PPS Before you write anything, know exactly who you are targeting and what you want them to do. Tim Miles calls that the Relevance. Speak to me in my language and the ad instantly becomes relevant to me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Do Sex and Humor Sell?

Some like to rip theirs off quickly in the heat of the moment.  Others run their fingers down the seam, taking it off slowly savoring every second.  Pulses quicken, breathing deepens, the anticipation is almost agonizing.  Usually it’s the teddies, occasionally polka dots.  Always there is a smile.  There’s nothing like Free Giftwrapping at the Toy House.  What were you thinking about?  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  The giftwrapping’s free, the smiles priceless.

I ran this ad back in October 2009 and I got some flack for it. Yet it brings up two important questions about advertising.


Should a toy store (or anyone else for that matter) be using sex in their ads?

You've all heard the adage, "Sex sells!" I agree, but would add the following disclaimer, "but only when the sex is related to the message."

Take that same statement and replace the word sex with humor. It still applies.

Every Super Bowl someone uses stupid humor or blatant sex to get your attention, often with backfiring results. You remember the sex/humor, but not the company. Sex and humor are attractive. Sex and humor get your attention. Sex and humor make a larger impact. But if they don't tie into your message, you get all the attention and none of the benefit. Use them with care.


What is your first goal with your ad? If you said draw traffic, you're wrong. Your first goal is to get someone's attention. Your second goal is to move the needle so that someone takes action.

You have to remember that your ads are like magnets. Their ability to attract is equal to their ability to repel. The more strongly you attract one type of customer, the more likely you will turn off another type.

If someone is complaining about your ads, then you know two things. You got their attention and you said something strong enough to repel (and attract). You're moving the needle!

Just make sure you are attracting the right people.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Don't write your ads just to get complaints. Write your ads to make powerful statements that you can back up with your actions and don't worry about the people who complain. Haters gotta hate.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Will it Take to Move the Needle?

Most people trying to persuade others to their point of view will bring out mounds and mounds of data. Stacks that reach as high as the ceiling fan. Piles that will collapse all but the most stout table. And if that isn't enough, we'll pile on even more.

But does the needle move?

Data is rarely enough to move the needle. Data usually only emboldens the base. The two sides in the Climate Change debate have more data than they can process. Yet there are still two sides.

Data won't move the needle for your customers either.

You've heard it said when someone changes their position on something... "I've had a change of heart." That's all you need to know right there. If they said, "I've changed my mind," you expect they will change it right back when the mood hits. But when they've had a change of heart, it's much more powerful.

The one thing that really moves the needle, whether it be politics, science, or retail, is the heart. Emotions and feelings move people. Data doesn't.

If you want to persuade people to do business with you, you have to move the heart. Don't tell me what you do (data), tell me why it matters (emotion). Don't tell me what you know (data), tell me how it helps (emotion). Don't tell me where you are (data), tell me why I want to find you (emotion). Don't make me think, make me feel.

When she was three she galloped down the aisles on stick horses.  At six, she brushed the mane of her My Little Pony.  At nine she used her own allowance to start her Breyer Horse collection.  And on her sixteenth birthday, she drove the car here just for a book on how to draw horses.  Now on her way to college, her parents wanted a gift.  I handed them Horse-opoly.  They smiled and said, “How did you know?”  Just a guess.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.

Speak to the heart.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS That was a radio ad I ran back in October 2010. Note, it doesn't tell our hours or our services or that we have more horse-related toys than anyone else in town (data). Instead it told a story of a girl who grew up before our eyes, who just happened to like horses.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dollars Left on the Table

You have a front line staff. You pay them to work with the customers and sell your products. Sometimes they get it right and make more money for the business. Sometimes they leave dollars on the table.

All this year I have worked with my staff on how to raise the average ticket, how to get more from every sale. We reached the pinnacle of that training this past Monday as we talked about tips to close the sale and make it stick.

Then we played a game, something to reinforce everything we had been working on all year.

Every single bill on that table had a statement on the back that either started with "I Earned This Dollar..." or "I Left This Dollar on the Table..."

The staff took turns picking a dollar and reading it out loud to the rest of the team. If it was an Earned dollar they got to keep it, but if it was a Left dollar they had to put it back. We played until all the Earned dollars were gone. The fun part was when the staff started cheering all the Earned dollars and booing all the Left dollars.

Three days later, most of the staff have their Earned dollars still in their pocket with the statement still taped to the back. My office gal has hers pinned to the bulletin board above her desk.

You have to spell out the behavior you want and also the behavior you don't want. There is power behind putting it all in writing and having the staff read it aloud to each other.

Phil Wrzesinski

PS The first question from the staff after we finished the game was, "Can you post all the statements somewhere so that I can read them again?" Of course. If you would like to see the list, send me an email.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Write Like a Poet

Poets force you to see things differently.
Poets get you to feel things you weren't already feeling.
Poets influence you with words.

Advertisers rarely make you crack open an eye.
Advertisers rarely make you feel anything but indifference.
Advertisers rarely use the right words.

Unless the advertiser writes like a poet.

A groan echoed through the terminal.  A gate change, and now another delay.  Grumbling, shaking heads slumped in their seats.  Then it appeared, a small white rabbit on a mother’s hand, and a two-year-old boy became unaware of the discontent surrounding him.  His laughter?  Contagious! …infecting smiles on travelers of all ages.  Smiles? In an airport? The power of puppets.  Your puppet smiles are waiting for you at Toy House in downtown Jackson.

But how do you learn to write like a poet?

Roy H. Williams told me that we write as well as we read. He told me to go get a poem-a-day book. If you want to write poetry, you have to read poetry.

I took his advice and got this book.

You should get one, too.

Phil Wrzesinski

PS Read one poem a day. Read it two or three times. Read it out loud and try to figure out how it would sound in the author's voice. You won't need a whole year to see your own writing begin to improve.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

No One Likes to Listen to Your Ads

Could you stand up to the microphone at a poetry slam and read your radio ads?

How fast would you be booed off the stage?

I read fourteen of my radio ads the other night. One after the other. Didn't get booed. Lots of snapping of the fingers (the way you applaud a great line at a poetry slam). Lots of real applause at the end. One audience member wanted a copy of the ads to make posters.

The language of the poet is the language of emotion. The poet uses words to make you feel.

The only thing you feel after most radio ads is the need to change the station.

But what would happen if instead of commercials, your favorite radio station did a string of 30-second poems? What would happen if each of those poems was written to make you feel something? Would you listen? Of course you would!

If you want your ads to be heard, write like a poet.
If you want people to be moved, write like a poet.
If you want a new way to reach a new audience, go to a poetry slam. They'll let you know if you're hitting the mark.

No one likes to listen to crappy ads. Make your ads move people.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS This morning I did a presentation on Branding to a group of high school students taking a CEO class. When I got to Q&A, the first question was, "Do you have any radio ads to read?"