In the insurance world, I often read the line ‘we are very pleased to announce.’ It is usually followed by something else that is of little interest to me but is of great importance to the seller.
Maybe they are delighted or even thrilled – but why should I be?
I’m selfish like that, but then we all are. That is because we want to know ‘what’s in it for me’? More on that later.
Insurance has been built on tradition and its own language. So too has the advertising and communications business. It made me think about the principles of communication and how these apply to print and video.
If you haven’t met them, let me introduce you:
AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action are the four basic steps of the advertising process. You could call them pillars. An attention-grabber, followed by some more detail to hold your interest. Then throw in a need – you know, the kind of thing that Apple are so good at. Finally, wrap it all up with a call to action. Yes, the world has moved on in sophistication, but the way we are motivated has not. Which is why I should introduce you to WIIFM or What’s In It For Me?
WIIFM drives our thinking around what we see, hear, read, buy… and watch. I am sure you are a very nice person and self-interest is a nasty failing you only see in others. But, when you looked at that family group photo at the weekend, who did you look for first? I thought so. Worth remembering, eh? No, not the part about you looking at yourself – the part about seeing it from the other side.
If you have never watched Mad Men, you really should. If only to wonder at Don Draper and company downing Bourbon at 10am and pondering if any of their livers survived the decade. But behind the drama was David Ogilvy, the father of advertising. Some of his wisdom illustrates my point:
“I don’t know the rules of grammar … If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”
“Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone.”
It seems obvious when it is put that way, talk to people personally and in their language. It’s just that, without thinking, we start to take on some kind of corporate speak dialect that is not our language and is certainly not the customer’s.
Confession time. Yes, I too search for myself first when I look at that group photo, that is what’s in it for me. So what will your audience be searching for in your message? I genuinely try not to announce anything, not with pleasure at any rate.
Written by Declan O’Brien, Director, brandformula