Categorized | Copywriting Tips


- by Jason Hart

One of the best ways to lead into the body of your copy is with a promise.  But how do you go about constructing a Promising Lead?

This is where research comes in.  It pays to know your product inside and out so that you figure out what it does best.  You’ve heard it all before…”features vs benefits” “features vs benefits.”  Here’s how it works…you study the product or service from every conceivable angle making a list of the products best features, once you have that in place you can begin to craft those into real tangible benefits for the customer.

Here is a classic example of this at work…

It starts with a young Forrest E. Mars growing up in his Father’s house.  Mars’ Father was a candy maker. And a pretty good one at that in fact he had some really big shoes to fill if he was going to be anything like his Father. You see Forrest’s Dad had a little home-based business that grew and grew.  He invented and sold some of the world’s most famous candy bars…names like Snickers, Mars Bars, and Milky Ways.

Forrest’s Dad didn’t want to build the business any more but Forrest, a recent graduate of Yale University, did. So what did he do?  He sold his share of the business back to his Dad and moved to Europe. While in Europe he fell in with a group of candy makers.

Over the course of his time spent there during World War II, he encountered something revolutionary; a breakthrough that he felt would forever change the chocolate business, and the out come of the war.  In fact he believed that it would totally revolutionize the birthday parties of millions and millions of kids.

What Forrest had uncovered was a tiny little pellet of chocolate…chocolate I might add that was wrapped in a candy shell.  Where did he uncover this little gem?  It was tucked away in the field kits of soldiers fighting the Spanish Civil War. Why?  Because these little chocolate pellets gave the soldiers a quick burst of energy and being wrapped in a hard candy shell it wouldn’t melt in harsh conditions.

Now we all know this revolutionary chocolate to be the M&M.

Fast forward to 1941…Forrest is back in the states and seeking a patent for his own formula of the candy.  It wasn’t long before the U.S. had committed herself to World War II. And guess what wound up in our soldiers’ field rations?  You guessed it, M&M’s. In fact the soldiers were hooked so that when they came home from the service the M&M’s came home with them.  The candies were a big hit with the general public.

But it doesn’t stop there…

The sales of M&M’s were about to be launched into the stratosphere.

It was 1945 and TV was making its way into mainstream America.  Forrest knew that if he was to grow his M&M empire the place to market them was TV so he hired a copywriter by the name of Rosser Reeves. Reeves, was already extremely successful. He had his hand firmly on the pulse of the nation and was well aware of the power of this new medium.  He was also both copy chief and vice president of his own advertising agency in New York. Now this is were the story gets really interesting, so please pay close attention.  When Reeves met with Forrest Mars to talk about this relatively new candy sensation, he approached it like he did all copy assignments…he listened and took copious notes as if he were a first-year copy cub.

As Forest spoke Reeves wrote and then he said one thing and they were done. Here’s how Rooser Reeves told the story, “He was the one who said it. He told me the whole history and then I pressed him and he said, ‘Well, the thing is they only melt in your mouth, but they don’t melt in your hands.'”

That was it, it was all Reeves needed.

Four years later, the Mars company was selling on average one million pounds of M&Ms per week. The M&M candy has a rich a glorious history.  They have since gone into space as part of the Space Shuttle flights. They’ve been the official candy of the Olympics. Business Week magazine has even stated that they’re the best-selling candy in the world.

In 1999 Forest Mars died at the ripe old age of 95.  He left quite a legacy…a $4 billion fortune. And a candy company that takes in over $20 billion per year, employing 30,000 worldwide.

But what about Rosser Reeves.  Oh he had quite a career in fact the character of Don Draper on TV’s series; Mad Men is modeled after Reeves.

He’s the fellow who came up with the “Unique Selling Proposition” or “U.S.P.”

And of course this all ties together and brings us back to the start because if you want TO FIND THE PROMISE YOU NEED TO FIND THE U.S.P.

There is this fabulous and RARE copywriting book that Reeves wrote called “Reality in Advertising,” in it he discusses the U.S.P. and wrote down a formula that you can use to write any effective Promise Lead.

Reeves broke his formula down into three parts.

Reeves being the son of a minister felt that all advertising had to be honest.  If the product didn’t do what you said it would do then he wanted no part of it.  So, the first part involves starting with the product. But the product had to actually be good enough to almost sell itself.

Reeves had another reason for starting with the product…this is the second part of the formula. Whatever the product or service does needs to be totally original…something Unique that the competing product don’t or can’t do.  This is the fundamental key to crafting a U.S.P.  The Promise you make has to be different in every way from everything your prospect has ever heard before.

Finally, and this is the part that is usually left out of most campaigns.  Leave it out and your Promise will fall on deaf ears. Every promise must zero in like a laser beam on your prospect’s core desires. It has to address a real strong want.

Desire can not be manufactured.  It can not be stirred up.  It has to already be there.  It might be dormant and asleep, but it has to exist in the emotional epicenter of your prospect.  You can awaken it but you cannot craft it.

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