Facts. Cold Hard Facts.
Sometimes copy seems to write itself. You find facts, information or customer feedback that so clearly transmits the benefit of a product or course of action to your target market that it needs little in the way of elaboration.
David Ogilvy once built an ad for Rolls-Royce around 13 factual points about their new model: the engines were run for seven hours at full throttle during manufacturing, five coats of primer and nine of finish were used, three sets of brakes installed, and 98 separate tests performed before the car could leave the factory.
And for his headline he simply used a quote from the Technical Editor of The Motor magazine that at 60 miles an hour all the driver hears is the sound of the electric clock. It all creates the image of a reliable, rigorously well-made, luxury vehicle. And guess what? Sales shot up.
This kind of information-rich copy of course relies on thorough research into the product, company and target audience. Dig first, said the great copywriter David Abbott, then write. It’s the research process that’ll uncover facts with impact, that make you think twice, say bloody hell, and stick in your head.
10% lower emissions. 25% extra space. Beats the price of x by 5%. Proven to be more efficient than y. The sort of facts that make the benefit of your product abundantly clear.
It’s especially effective in advertising from public health organisations like the NHS. A fizzy drink can contains 6 teaspoons of sugar. The average smoker needs 5000 cigarettes a year. A single fact can speak volumes.
And it works well in a B2B context when your audience is more technically-minded than the average consumer. I once wrote some copy for the website of an SEO company looking to attract small business customers based around the facts that well over 80% of consumers were now searching for local services online through search engines with over 90% of all clicks going to pages ranked on the first results page.
I suppose you could call this type of copywriting lacking in wit or creativity, even a little bit dull. But look at many print ads with witty headlines and read the body copy and you’ll often find facts in there that make you sit up.
One example. One of my favourite pieces in the 2011 edition of The Copy Book is a piece of direct mail sent by Bloomberg to media buyers for major airlines advertising Bloomberg TV. It was written by copywriter Steve Harrison and each letter was accompanied by a label-less champagne bottle.
It starts with some discussion of whether the champagne is the 1992 Dom Perignon or the great ’66. To find out you’ll have to give us a call. Or maybe ask a Bloomberg viewer, since they’re partial to good champagne, especially during long-haul flights.
And then come the killer facts – 96% of Bloomberg viewers took an air trip in the previous 12 months; 78% took between 3 and 5 flights; and 54% took over 6 flights.
Now if you’re the media buyer for an airline you’re starting to think we need to be sure we’re attracting these frequent flyers who love quaffing champagne whilst following the markets. Better get Bloomberg shown on your flights.
No surprises, then, that 22 interested media buyers came straight back to Bloomberg.