Magazine article CRM Magazine

Cooking Up Marketing's Secret Sauce: Firms Must Concoct Copy That Appeals to the Customer's Taste Buds

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Cooking Up Marketing's Secret Sauce: Firms Must Concoct Copy That Appeals to the Customer's Taste Buds

Article excerpt

Before Internet search engines, marketers relied heavily on TV and radio to persuade customers to buy their products or services.

But as people became empowered with more tools and information, they resisted the influence of the outfits that stood to profit from them. And as they've become less impressionable, they've also developed shorter attention spans and become much harder to seduce, notes Harry Mills,

CEO of the Aha! Advantage, in his newest book, Secret Sauce: How to Pack Your Messages with Persuasive Punch. Associate Editor Oren Smilansky spoke to Mills to learn more about the recipes that work for modern marketers.

CRM: You write that fewer than 10 percent of today's marketing messages are "truly compelling." How would you describe those?

Harry Mills: Messages must pass a higher threshold than they have in the past. They have to pass the SAUCE test. To pack a persuasive punch, a message must be simple, appealing, unexpected, credible, [and] emotional. Compelling messages that pass the SAUCE test with flying colors do three things exceptionally well. What are those three things, and who's done them best? First, the core idea has to communicate its central truth in a way that is both simple and profound. There is no better example than De Beers's "A Diamond Is Forever," which was penned by the copywriter Francis Gerety way back in 1948. It is hard to think of a better way to say "I love you" or to remind men and women which brand the gift of a diamond conveys.

Second, compelling messages surprise. The message is intriguing and engages our craving for novelty. Kmart's "Ship My Pants" ad is a clever example. The ad offers free shipping for items not available in stores. The ad begins with a customer replying to a Kmart salesperson's news of free shipping with "I might just ship my pants." The ad shocked, amused, and turned shopping into a slightly titillating experience. It worked. YouTube views of the ad reached 20 million within four months.

Third, compelling messages have a strong emotional hook. Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, spent a decade on uncovering why emotional messages get shared. His surprising answer was physiological arousal. …

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