If in doubt, focus on relevance

If our story isn’t relevant, it doesn’t matter how beautiful our slides are, how elaborate our body language is, or how eloquent our wording is.

If our audience can’t relate to us, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s a story it doesn’t relate to, a beautiful design, or eloquent words.

If, on the other hand, we manage to make it highly relevant, our audience is willing to tolerate quite some frustration.

That’s why – if in doubt – I’d always work on relevance before I begin working on the show. I’d always work on substance before I begin working on the delivery.

Copywriting legend John Caples put it this way:

“If I had a year to create an ad, I’d spend 11 months working on the appeal, and a month – or even a week — on writing the ad. In other words, what you say in your copy is much more important than how you say it.”

Sales deck? No, thanks!

“No, thanks!”

That’s my answer when a salesperson asks me whether I want him to walk me through his sales deck. “No, thanks, I’ve already researched your company info before the meeting.”

Time’s precious. I don’t want to waste time with info that I can more efficiently get before a meeting. I invited that person because I already believe that there might be common ground and that it might be a fit.

So, when we meet, I want to dig deeper. I want to understand how this service or product would be just the right solution to my problem. I just don’t have time to figure that out myself after suffering through 27 slides of generic marketing messages. I don’t care for how large your building is and how many other departments you have.

John Caples, the famous copywriter, said it like this:

“The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments that they forger to tell us why we should buy.”

Sales decks are often full of own accomplishments and the only thing they talk about is themselves. Yet, when you want to sell something, it’s not about you. We know that you want to sell. It’s about us. It’s about why we should buy. Why is this for us? We care for whether you understand our business. Whether you see our problem and feel our pain. And whether your medicine will work. We don’t want a lecture about how great you are but a conversation about why we are a great fit.

Wer zuletzt lacht, hat nachgedacht

„Sie lachten als ich mich an’s Klavier setzte. Aber als ich zu spielen begann!“ So beginnt einer der berühmtesten Werbebriefe des letzten Jahrhunderts. Er wirbt für einen Fernkurs der U.S. School of Music. Geschrieben hat ihn der Werbetexter John Caples. Und er funktionierte so gut, weil er ein Gefühl auf den Punkt brachte, das viele Menschen kennen.

Caples prägte das Texten von Werbebriefen mit seinen strengen Methoden. Er glaubte nicht an sein Bauchgefühl oder den spontanen Geistesblitz. Nach seiner Überzeugung basiert erfolgreiche Werbung auf harten Fakten. Deshalbt testete er konsequent seine Werbekampagnen auf den erzielten Werbeerfolg (was bei Werbebriefen gut funktioniert, weil man die Anzahl der Antworten zählen kann). Seine Erkenntnisse fasste er in mehreren Büchern zusammen.

Caples wichtigste Botschaft lautet: Du brauchst einen guten Küchenzuruf, der die Bedürfnisse deines Publikums anspricht, wie z.B. den des Möchtegern-Klavierspielers. Nur wenn sich die Leser – gleiches gilt für die Zuhörer eines Vortrags – angesprochen fühlen, reagieren sie auf die Werbung – bzw. nehmen etwas aus dem Vortrag mit. Für Caples besteht daher der wichtigste Teil seiner Arbeit darin, den richtigen Küchenzuruf zu finden:

There are usually many seemingly effective appeals to choose from for a given product, but only one right one. If I had a year to create an ad, I’d spend 11 months researching the appeal, and a month – or even a week – creating the ad.

In other words, what you say in your copy is much more important than how you say it. That would be the biggest thing.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz

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