I love the new Volkswagen Jetta commercial with the slogan “Safety Happens”. Two guys are riding along yacking. You have no clue what the commercial is about or what the point is. Suddenly they slam into a pickup truck and the airbags deploy. In the closing scene, the two guys are standing unscathed looking at the Jetta. Why do I love it? Because it cuts through the clutter on television and hammers home the point that the Jetta is a safe car. That puts it in the top 1% of commercials.
Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth (OK–the mid 80s), I taught advertising at San Francisco State University and used as my text a book by Hank Seiden. It was titled “Advertising Pure and Simple”. The book was an astringent alternative to the pointless, fluffy approach to advertising that was common then and now.
Seiden’s main thesis was that television was the great demonstration medium. It’s power relative to other media was that it could show you how a product works and why it is superior. That resonated for me. When I took writing classes in college at Santa Clara, Professor Jim Degnan used to hammer us “Don’t tell me, show me.”
When you are selling your product, it’s worth the extra effort to think about how you can “show” your customers why it’s better. Features put people to sleep. Benefits get them excited. Trying to be everything to everybody meanst that you’re really nothing to anyone. Decide what your major selling point is, commit to it, and then demonstrate how that aspect of your product or service can make your customer’s life better.
Words and ideas have power. Use them to sell your product.