Sometime ago, I was experiencing difficulty in sales. Mind you I was making a lot of sales but they were unique sales; I needed to know how to convert these unique sales to repeated sales. I needed to know how to convert my first time customers to loyal customers. In desperation, I went all out looking for an answer that could help revive my dying business.
I came across a lot of answers but they all required a lot of money to implement and back then, my business was still in the startup phase; I was a young entrepreneur with limited budget. This experience left me with the ideology that a business will need millions to be able to get the required publicity. I also thought the marketing answers I seek can only be found in the hands of big advertising agencies and their wonderful ads.
Just when I was about to give up, I came across the book “Think Two Products Ahead” by Ben Mack and like a stroke of luck, I found my answers. Ben Mack is a brand strategist with results to prove it. My contact with “Think Two Products Ahead” changed my marketing approach and orientation. Just like the title states, the book contains branding tools the big advertising agencies don’t want you to know and how to use them to increase your profit. Below is the book’s table of content.
Table of Content
ASAP Please buy a small notebook
1 Pool Hall Wisdom
2 Brand Misinformation Versus Back End Thinking
3 The Common Thread & Think Two Products Ahead
4 Branding? Be Good To Your Gander
5 Branding Processes Are Strikingly Similar
6 What’s a Brand Essence?
7 Legendary Branding
8 Extracting a Brand Essence
9 The Kama Sutra of Marketing: Five Basic Positions
10 Framing To The Right Target Audience
11 Structured Creativity…Framing Tools
12 Creativity on Demand…Why Ad Agencies Can’t Brainstorm
13 Feed Their Passions
14 Plan to have Many Conversations
15 Everything Communicates
16 Storytelling: Letting The Genii Out Of The Bottle
17 Branding & Thinking Two Products Ahead
Since you have gone through the table of content, I think I should give you a feel of the book. Below is an extract from the book “Think Two Products Ahead.” Think Two Products Ahead: Secrets the Big Advertising Agencies Don’t Want You to Know and How to Use Them for Bigger Profits
An excerpt from the book “Think two products ahead.”
Storytelling: Letting The Genii Out Of The Bottle.
We learn more from stories than we do from other forms of teaching. I have seen data that proves this point for TV, and to a slightly lesser extent for radio, but not for other mediums. I know Direct Response practitioners have similar data. Simply bullet listing attributes and slapping a price on something doesn’t sell. So, if you are in sales, you’re in the business of storytelling. The more the stories leverage human truths, the more likely they are to resonate with your audience.
Real situations make suspension of disbelief easier because we can see ourselves in those situations. Find a way to be authentic and tell authentic stories. The stories don’t need to have happened to you…but if you’re writing the story, I bet it won’t feel real unless you can imagine the situation happening to you.
Drama is your friend. If I am completely happy…I don’t need your product…leave me alone. I don’t want to be interrupted when I’m in my bliss. Fortunately for advertisers, most people aren’t walking around in a state of bliss. People may be happy and want more…to feel satiated, but most people aren’t happy. What’s the most common type of story told? A love story. If you can sell Love, authentic love, I suggest you do. Reinforce their love.
A marketer of Elvis products asked me, “What is my brand essence?” —easy…Long Live Elvis. “Long Live Elvis” is like saying “For people who love Elvis.” I see great value in promoting love. Love helps people feel loved and unified and enfranchised and safe.
But, most legends aren’t love stories. Most famous legends are warnings of what can go wrong or tales of mavericks. Functionally, fairy tales often act as instructional tales for children that often scared kids away from doing things that might harm themselves, harm their family or endanger their village. Legends for adults are often about a hero who solved problems in cunning ways. For instance; Paul Bunyan, Gulliver, and James Bond.
Guess what…you solve a client’s problem in a maverick way and they’re telling their friends about you, too.
Maverick wisdom sells products. I get why John Carlton positions himself as a maverick marketer…if most of the people in the United States don’t think of themselves as happy…then we’ll be well served by maverick solutions. Not only does John Carlton provide maverick solutions to his clients, but the sales letters he writes frame the maverick solutions of the products being sold. But what are these problems of ours? Sure, there are tactical problems like needing to get from A to B, but we just do those things. Our tougher “problems” are getting our emotional needs met.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie
Emotional creatures…Our problems are often unfulfilled passions. Passion sells. What emotion can you tap into? Emotions are labels for human energy. You chime an emotion and you bring forth this energy in your target.
The 7 Deadly sins are a decent source of energy and inspiration…
o Bayer Advanced lawn care products sells pride…the pride of having a great lawn—most lawn care sells pride.
o Many products promise to make your neighbors envious of you…this makes you the object of envy.
o Romance novels…Consume as much as you want without regrets or repercussions…a number of fake diets claim similar results with food.
o Lust is so common that prostitutes have lost control of their market and now everybody is selling sex.
o Watch Fox News and feel righteous…fair & balanced…we know.
o Fortune Magazine sells the proper face of greed.
o Corona sells vacation…many products sell less work, which equals sloth.
Your narrative doesn’t need to be warm and fuzzy, but you need a story to engage and bond with your customers. Even Wal-Mart has evolved from advertisements that only pound low price to commercials that tell a little bit of story.
The narrative in an effective ad reinforces your basic selling points, whether reinforcing why a person purchased or why a prospect should purchase, these are common reasons to believe your brand essence. The narrative appeals to the non-rational part of your customers. If you didn’t need stories you could just send prospects your PowerPoint presentations or put the slides directly on TV.
Telling a story might not seem rational, but storytelling has been proven to be a consistently effective means of persuasion. Furthermore, you should be grateful your customers aren’t more rational. You are asking something very irrational of them. You want them to be completely loyal to you while you go out there and seduce other customers. Try this one on your spouse, “Honey, I want to sleep with other people but I want you to be completely faithful to me.”
Great copy is engaging
I’ll read any John Carlton DR letter on golf…I don’t even play golf. I just enjoy reading his prose. Call
me sick, but I like reading his words. He’s a world-class storyteller. Same goes with copywriter Michael Morgan! Michael has fun with his text and I have fun when I read his words. http://www.outsourcecopy.com. Since you’re reading these words, chances are you read Michael Morgan’s sales letter that introduced you to this book.
Being a good brander is about being a good storyteller. However, just like innovation is applied creativity and not purely self-expression, selling is applied storytelling and not simply the traditional three-act structure. In some ways, copywriting can be seen as a morality play, where the point of the play is to teach a lesson…Nobody ever got fired for choosing AT&T.
In other instances, copywriting can be seen as a mystery, where the point of purchasing may be to improve your golf swing, but it is also to find out…How a one- legged golfer can drive a ball that far. For toys, copywriting can be seen as a fantasy, where the point of purchasing is to become par t of the fantasy and a license to be absurd…Feel the force. For candy or alcohol, it can be a comedy…That’s brilliant!
Yesterday, I was in a grocery store and one twelve-year-old boy said to another, “I feel like Skittles.” And the second kid made a sheep noise and said, “Stop that jibber jabbing.” And they walked around a corner each grabbed a pack of Skittles. Then they started making absurd connections between things, which weren’t funny to me, but they were cracking each other up. They weren’t saying they were craving the flavors…they were craving the energy they associated with the product from the marketing. Skittles gave them a prop that enabled them to act a certain way. Without these props most folks just won’t get that silly.
As a final note, I believe you have felt the book enough so let the book speak for itself. This is definitely not a book for big corporations, it’s a book for smart, result driven entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, let me share with you one of the many lessons I learnt from this book. The lesson I learnt is this: There is more to business than just selling to customers. Some businesses find it easy to attract new customers but they can’t just seem to retain these new customers. This book offers a solution to this problem and the solution is this:
“Sales is about identifying a thirsty prospect and selling them a glass of water. Branding is about selling your 2nd glass and the 3rd glass and the 4th until when they’re thirsty they want to buy your water. Branding is finding out what you stand for and then communicating and delivering what you stand for.” – Ben Mack
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