The Monday Morning Memo: Left Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

I’m going to explain a sophisticated ad-writing technique to you today, but I have confidence you’ll understand it perfectly.

Memo-082310 Left-JabLearn to incorporate it into your writing and your ads will produce better results, generate more comments and make people smile.

Tight-asses will criticize you, of course, but hey, they’re tight-asses.

We’ll begin with a couple of examples from a flyer I edited recently for a fish market that donated $500 to help finish the tower at Wizard Academy. The flyer offered a complete fish dinner for 4 for just 39.95, including gourmet salads and side dishes. When I finished my revision, the last 2 points made at the end of the meal description were these:

Fresh-baked homemade bread.

(Be sure you’re sitting down when you take your first bite. This bread is so amazing that people have been known to pass out from the sheer wonderfulness of it.)

You got questions? We got Answers, and much better fish than you’ll find at the grocery store. No pesticides, No growth hormones, No color added. Fish so healthy you’ll live forever.

The left hemisphere of the brain wants facts, details, descriptions and benefits. Lefty is all about sequential logic and deductive reasoning. Lefty looks for loopholes and discrepancies and is full of doubt. 

But the right hemisphere cares for none of that. The right half of the brain is where fantasy lives. And Righty doesn’t know fact from fiction.

If you merely exaggerate, your customer’s left brain will shoot your claims full of holes. But if you go beyond mere exaggeration – so far beyond it that the left brain knows you’re just clowning – the right brain will happily embrace your glowing fantasy in all its positive glory.

This is the technique:

Open with 2 or 3 quick jabs of fact:

1. “fresh-baked” 

2. “homemade bread”

Then hit the right brain with everything you’ve got: “Be sure you’re sitting down when you take your first bite. This bread is so amazing that people have been known to pass out from the sheer wonderfulness of it.”

Again, 2 or 3 quick jabs of fact:

1. No pesticides, 

2. No growth hormones, 

3. No color added.

Then electrify Righty with an impossible dream: “Fish so healthy you’ll live forever.”

Yes, we’re speaking to the unconscious. We don’t need the customer to believe our silly, over-the-top promise. They don’t even have to think it’s cute.

All they have to do is hear it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is deep branding.

One last benefit of this technique is that Right Hooks often become “word flags” that are repeated by smiling customers. As they place their orders, they’re likely to say, “Make sure you give me some of that bread that makes you pass out!” And as they lift their fish dinners off the counter and turn to leave the store, they’re likely to smile again and say, “Fish so healthy you’ll live forever.”

You gotta love it when customers quote memorable lines from your ads.

Anyone who has been in advertising longer than 10 minutes knows that saying, “Mention this ad and receive 10 percent off,” doesn’t work. 

My theories are: 

1. It makes people feel like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of porridge. 

2. Customers fear they’re going to mention the ad and some mouth-breathing employee is going to say, “What ad?” If they answer, “The ad that says I get ten percent off for mentioning it,” they risk Mouth Breather saying with a snort and a sneer, “Nice try.” Or worse, MB throws his head back and shouts across the store, “Ralphy! Do you know anything about an ad that says this guy gets ten percent off?”

Play it safe. Plant a word flag with a Right Hook. Customers mention word flags because it’s fun; a moment of friendly connection that’s guaranteed to make 3 people smile: 

1. The witty customer who repeats the line.

2. The happy advertiser who hears it, and

3. The above-average writer who wrote it.

Be that above-average writer.

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