Here’s a radio commercial copywriting lesson taken from a direct mail piece.
Recently I received a letter from the Skeptics Society, inviting me to attend a 3-day conference.
Although the left third of the envelope has lots of stuff — return address, 10 thumbnail photos, text intro to the block of photos — your eyes immediately are drawn to this doggie command:
“Compare the expertise of our speakers to those at any other conference.”
I have but one question regarding the marketing for this event:
“Are these people insane?”
Is that how they believe people select a conference to attend — based not upon the topics covered, information to be learned, contacts to be made but rather upon whether there is any other conference, anywhere, devoted to any area of interest, whose speakers have expertise at least equal to this conference’s speakers?
Let’s assume that people attend such a conference because they want to learn something.
1. Have you ever encountered someone who is expert in his/her field but you’d never want to have to listen to?
2. Have you ever encountered someone who is expert in his/her field but is a poor communicator?
3. If the ideas around which the Skeptics Society coalesce appeal to you, will you be less likely to attend their conference if you discover another gathering devoted to…oh, say “Electrical Engineering,” and that conference has guest speakers whose expert credentials are more impressive than those of the Skeptics Society’s speakers’ credentials?
A cursory review of the speakers’ bios indicates there’s not a single Nobel Prize winner among them. Meanwhile, that Electrical Engineering conference might have two, maybe even three Nobel Prize winners. So, I guess we all should go to the Electrical Engineering conference, huh?
Much of the expertise of the speakers at this conference is substantiated by their many appearances in the media — hardly proof of “expertise.” Although to be fair, one of their outstanding speakers “was a scientific consultant for Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
If there’s anyone reading this who thinks Star Trek: The Next Generation represents a bastion of scientific advancement, please raise your hand. Now take that hand and — not too forcefully — smack yourself in the face.
Hey, my conference features a guy who was a scientific consultant for both Superman and Batman Returns. That’s expertise!
But wait. It sounds as though I’m mocking those guest speakers. I’m not.
I’m mocking the inane attempt at advertising the value those speakers presumably will bring to the lives of conference attendees.
Advertise the Results the Product/Service Promises.
If those expert speakers will be saying something worth hearing, they deserve an advertising campaign that captures the attention of the people who would be most interested.
Based upon this terrible, full color, multi-fold direct mailing piece…
Frankly, I’m skeptical.