The Power of One
Australian author (and former advertising man) Bryce Courtney wrote a brilliant book called “The Power of One” about the experiences of a young boy growing up in South Africa.
The book became a film. Bryce was the only Australian author to be paid $1 million for the rights to the film before the book was completed. It’s a powerful story.
The reality is that ONE does have power — power which generalities completely lack in marketing.
So often, we see letters written that begin something like this:
As all of our customers know, this is the 53rd year of our business …..
As you know, this is the 53rd year of our business …..
See the difference. In the opening of the second of the two letters, you’re writing to me. The Power of One. Or what about …
As all Australians know, it’s just a few weeks away from our National Day…..
As you know, it’s just a few weeks away from our National Day…..
Let’s go further.
I remember once getting a call from a client. “I’m having enormous difficulty writing an advertisement,” she said.
My response? “That’s because you’re trying to write an advertisement.”
I went on to explain that although the advertisement she was writing was being inserted in a newspaper with 1,000,000 readers, each page, each advertisement, each word was only read by one reader at a time.
Therefore, direct the advertisement at me! The Power of One.
Let’s go further again.
All advertisements, mailing pieces, or commercials need a headline. A headline is an advertisement for the advertisement.
Its purpose should be to cull out only those who are most qualified to be a prospect for your proposition. Without exception, humorous, abstract, or circuitous advertisements and commercials are a waste.
If you run advertisements in general interest publications, TV, and radio, and their product is pest control, you should not use headlines or opening statements like, “Got the bug to clean the house?,” or “This problem affects every homeowner.”
Instead, create a headline or opening that states the purpose of the advertisement and qualifies the reader. (By the way, we can help you with this.) For example: “If your home is plagued by ants, roaches, mice, or rats, we can eliminate the problem in less than four hours, and keep it that way, with this new monthly maintenance service.”
If you want to reach people interested in furniture, don’t use a "cute" headline. Instead try: “Looking for a $1,500 sofa value for just $475? We have 150 in stock right now.”
Whatever you sell, and whomever you want to reach with your story or message, be specific. Telegraph your message directly to your prospective customers and tell them what you’re offering.
Here’s a strategy that might help you do it better:
1. Attract the attention of your target audience in your headline or opening remarks.
2. State your proposition or offer.
3. Use the rest of the advertisement to develop, support, and present your offer and reasons why the prospect should embrace it.
4. Finally, tell that prospect how to act.
From now on, always to telegraph the message only to the people who are primary prospects — the Power of One. (And never again be content with humorous, non-specific, or abstract headlines or advertisements.)
So next time you see Bryce Courtney’s book on the shelf of a bookstore somewhere in the word, think about whether your advertisements, letters, and brochures build on the Power of One.