How to Promote Something
With Limited Appeal …
John Wood here, with a writing tip from direct response legend Gene Schwartz.
But first let me ask you a quick question …
Imagine you're tasked with selling a simple spark plug.
How would you do it in a way that connects with the maximum number of people and generates the most revenue?
According to Schwartz, you'd use something called "escalation."
It's a technique that's ideal if the product you're promoting does not, as Schwartz says, “have a broad enough appeal to assure it a mass market."
The idea is that you redefine the role the product plays in the prospect's life. Your goal is to amplify the benefits your reader will receive by showing him the various ways and situations where having your products will be beneficial.
So how would you increase the importance and benefits of a mere spark plug and make a mere spark plug a must-have?
Schwartz suggests something like this:
"Yes. You pay $2,000 … $3,000 … $4,000 for your car. And a single 99 cent part robs you of the real power and enjoyment that car should give you."
You're no longer buying "just a spark plug." You're buying worry-free driving.
Here is another example Schwartz offers up in his legendary book Breakthrough Advertising. It’s promoting a course that teaches people to speak English correctly:
"Revolutionary new Word Power Machine makes you a master of English overnight.
“Automatically gives you a power-packed vocabulary – to make your ideas crackle with excitement … to hold others spellbound with the power of your speech and your written word.
“Automatically spots embarrassing errors in grammar, spelling, pronunciation you didn't even know you were making. Clears them up at once. Frees your mind from worry … lets you feel at ease in any company … gives you the blazing new self-confidence you need to make anybody like you – to win people over irresistibly to your point of view … "
In this piece, Schwartz frames the benefits of the English course not as knowledge of obscure grammar rules but rather as increased self-confidence and an ability to influence people.
There are two main approaches you can take with escalation with your own copy projects.
The first is to shift your reader's focus from a less desirable product attribute to a range of benefits that are more desirable to the reader.
The second approach is to show the reader that something he wants and needs is directly connected to him buying the product you're promoting. Doing so increases the importance of the product in your reader's mind.
Now, of course, using "escalation" is important when selling any product or service. It's just especially relevant when you're promoting a product that at first glance has limited appeal and a limited market.
A great way to inject your copy with maximum "escalation" is to use the "So what?" method of coming up with benefits. You take a feature and list a benefit, after which you say "So what?" You write the response and continue saying "So what?" until you run out of answers.
For example, let's say you're promoting a mask that helps you sleep. It would work something like this:
This mask helps me get a good night's sleep. So what?
That means I will be more rested and less tired every morning. So what?
It means I will be less grouchy and more effective at work. So what?
That means I will do better work and be in line for a promotion sooner. So what?
It means I will make more money and meet my work goals a lot faster. So what? And on like that till you run out of answers.
Then you sprinkle as many of the "so what" benefits as you can into your copy.
Do you have any examples of escalation that you'd like to share? If so, please share with me and your fellow AWAIers below.