Marketing thrives on uncanny abilities

Marketers (that’s what I do for a living) are people who can simplify complex processes as well as complicate simple ones; it is all part of one’s daily work. Seth Godin (who is a marketing genius, notably in marketing himself) said something interesting about markets and marketing, “I think” he said “that while markets are conversations, marketing is a story… great marketing is storytelling.”

The art and craft of marketing must have been born with culture and perfected with each artefact that made it into the marketplace. Objects did – and still do – come with an attached story (real or concocted) – pedigree, historical relevance, spiritual relevance, personal – often emotional – relevance, are all woven into the teller’s yarn.

In truth, the story – the yarn – is sometimes better than the object it serves. Copywriters are the wonderfully creative brains behind the catchy, sexy, inspired and inspiring adverts we see. In his book “Ogilvy on advertising“, David Ogilvy had this to say about copywriters:

“The most difficult people to find are those who have the capacity to become good copywriters. I have found that they always have well-furnished minds. They give evidence of exceptional curiosity about every subject under the sun. They have an above-average sense of humor.”

Naturally, quality copywriters with great stories generate a deluge of clever quotes. Godin and Ogilvy have a way with words, as the quotes I used above clearly show. Godin’s quote, above, is copywriters’ Master Class. It can apply perfectly to any topic imaginable:

He said:

“I think that while markets are conversations, marketing is a story… great marketing is storytelling.”

Let’s scrum:

“I think that while marriages are conversations, each relationship is a story… great communication is storytelling.”

“I think that while football matches are conversations, playing attacking football is a story… demonstrating great footballing skills is storytelling.”

“I think that while museums are conversations, each work of art is a story… great artwork is storytelling.”

.. and so on, absolutely word perfect.

The inspired copywriter will successfully sell shoes today, guns tomorrow, flowers the next day and peanut butter on the day following that because, you see, the copywriter loves the idea behind the product (any product) he sells – and rightly so, since copywriters make a living from the strength and freshness of their writing. A good showpiece is AdSlogans – a database holding more than 200,000 slogans. The latest ones have a few lines that stick to one’s memory: Levi’s “Originals never fit“, Virgin Holidays’ “Looks like your ship’s come in” and Mercure hotels’ “Meet the Mercures” tickled me, while Fiat 500’s “You are, we car“, Toilet Paper manufacturers Cottonelle’s “Be kind to your behind” and Sunsilk’s “Make your hair happen” look like real clangers. In 2003 AdSlogans used to vote for the best slogans in the world.

Nick Padmore, a British digital copywriter, who shares some of my passions — such as the interest in the way language works, writes for Web Content website A List Apart. Padmore took AdSlogans’ 115 greatest slogans, and tried to find out what makes a really great slogan. He found that great slogans should:

1. Be five words in length
2. Not mention the brand name
3. Be declarative
4. Be grammatically complete
5. Be otherwise standard
6. Contain alliteration, metaphor, or rhyme

Check your favourite lines — do they ascribe to Padmore’s rules? Mine are:

My goodness, my Guinness! (Guinness)

Betcha can’t eat just one (Lay’s)

and

When it rains, it pours! (Morton Salt)

The Guinness piece mentions the brand; otherwise, they snugly fit Padmore’s half-dozen.

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