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The most persuasive tool in advertising and how to use it.

My friends, star marketers Alex Mandossian and Yanik Silver, recently paid me a compliment by calling me, "The world's greatest living reason-why copywriter."

I consider it such high praise because my mentor, David Ogilvy, was in my view the greatest reason-why copywriter of all time. In fact, when asked by a reporter if he was a strong proponent of "reason why" advertising, Ogilvy responded, "Is there any other kind?"

Thinking of Mr. Ogilvy (or "D. O.," as we staffers at Ogilvy & Mather called him) has prompted me to once again offend every English teacher whose classes I endured, and inspire everyone else who speaks the King's English to cringe, by penning another of my infamous poems, this one entitled ...
The Most Persuasive Tool in Advertising

"How can I sell more product?" is the marketer's eternal question.
If you sincerely seek the answer, just follow my suggestion.
When it comes to creating advertising, most advice is for the birds.
But the greatest secret of success can be found in two little words.
No, they're not, as some have written, those standbys NEW and FREE.
Neither are they NOW and SALE, or even YOU or WE.
No, to open minds and wallets and have prospects eagerly buy,
The most persuasive words in advertising are simply, REASON WHY.
Whether you spread your message on TV, the internet or by letter.
You must explain the REASON WHY your product is much better.
And while you're at it, don't forget that your audience won't believe
Unless you give the REASON WHY what you claim is true.
To close the sale, these two little words once again point the way.
Just give me another REASON WHY I should act today.
There you have it, clear as day. If you want to sell, here's how:
Give good reasons for these three questions--why you, why true, why now?
This little secret works like magic, for all products, in all seasons.
If you want to sell like a superstar, just boldly state your reasons:
First, the reason yours is best. Second, a reason to believe,
And third, a reason to act right now--give these and you'll receive
More sales than you can imagine, gold and riches heaped on high.
The world showers you with treasure when you give the REASON WHY.

Could this be verse? I doubt it! But maybe a couple of quick examples will make the point.

Soft drinks are one of the most difficult industries to break into with a new product. The number of times it's been done over history is very, very seldom because people are loyal to whatever soft drink they like.

Not long ago, Slice soft drink came out with a campaign that said it's a better-tasting soft drink because it contains 10-percent fruit juice.

It gave a little reason in the headline--the 10-percent fruit juice--to explain why it tastes better than the average fruit soda.

And that made all the difference in the world. In a product category that's renowned for a sky-high failure rate among new products, Slice quickly captured 7 percent of a $30-billion-a-year soft drink market.

Today, that same soft drink market is probably worth more than $50 billion per year. That means that right out of the box, Slice created $2 billion a year in sales on the strength of this one little proof element, 10-percent fruit juice.

To see how critical that line is to its success, try taking it away, and what do you have? "Slice, a better-tasting soft drink." Nothing there but a bland claim.

But because it contains 10-percent fruit juice, if you're a soft drink afficionado, you think, maybe I'll try it. There's a good reason to.

Let's look at another example. The headline of one of the most successful direct response ads of all time is:

How to win friends and influence people.

Wisely paying off that key word "how," the body copy of this ad gives many, many reasons in support of this powerful headline.

Here's another classic reason-why positioning that built a fortune.

Kleenex towels absorb 50 percent more because they're two layers thick.

"Well, that makes sense," you say to yourself. You can buy into the promise because it gives you its proof element, its reason why, right in the headline.

Half Off Sale!

We've all seen half off sales and, by and large, they slide off your mind like water off a duck.

But give it a reason why and look what happens. Imagine if you say instead:

Fire sale! 50 percent off everything in our store because of our recent fire.

See what a difference that makes? If I'm going to buy a stereo, I don't care if the box smells a little smoky. The reason why--the recent fire--gives me a rationale to buy into it, a believable explanation of why I might really get 50 percent off, rather than just another garden-variety, totally unbelievable and unmotivating "half price sale."

Take a hard look at your most critical marketing materials, especially any that are underperforming. Ask if you are giving reasons why in each of these three areas:

1. Compelling reason(s) why your product is superior to other solutions your prospects might choose, including doing nothing.

2. Compelling reason(s) to believe that what you say is true.

3. Compelling reason(s) to seize the opportunity today.

When you examine the most successful examples of salesmanship-in-print, you'll almost always find these three reasons-why in full force, which is why they are so profitable.

Gary Bencivenga, 100 Hilton Ave., #410E, Garden City, NY 11530, 516-742-5304, fax 516-742-5306,
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Title Annotation:Promotion
Author:Bencivenga, Gary
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Oct 18, 2004
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