March 31, 2011

Do the same old clichés motivate your audience?

How does your audience respond to the same old clichés? Are you finding fresh ways to make your points and persuade them to act, or are you relying on decades-old (or older) concepts?

I received a marketing e-mail today with the following excerpt:

"I'm excited to offer you a full year of "Magazine" for just $1 per issue. Click here to snap up this limited-time bargain today!

For less than the price of a cup of coffee per month, you can join our circle of friends ...."

I was using this coffee appeal 20 years ago when I worked in nonprofits writing fundraising letters. Is there really nothing more current or relevant that can take the place of this old-timey reference? And does anyone resonate with this any more? Even if you do buy coffee every day (or even once a month, which seems to be what the magazine is getting at), it seems that we've heard this one so many times that it's lost all meaning.

I like to hold up a concept like this to the Heath brothers' SUCCESs model, from the book Made to Stick, to see how likely this idea is to "stick" in the audience's mind.

Is it simple? Yes.

Is it unexpected? No.

Is it concrete? Yes.

Is it credible? I suppose so, although I don't know how much people are pay for coffee around the country.

Is it emotional? No.

Does it tell a story? No.

So this idea of spending less per month on this magazine than what you spend on a cup of coffee meets three of the Heath brothers' criteria. Unfortunately, it meets the three least emotional criteria. That is, it has no shock factor, no story, no emotional engagement. If you're going to use a clichéd appeal like this one, it should at least have some emotional claws to it.

I'm no marketing genius, and I honestly don't know if there's a better way to say this, but I'd love to hear what you all think.

Is there a more original cost per month idea that could be used instead, like "for less than the cost of a manicure" or "for less than the cost of a fast food meal"? What else might work here in place of the tired cup of coffee?

And what are you doing to ensure that your audiences are not subject to the same old meaningless clichés that they've heard a million times?

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