We copywriters and designers like to think of ourselves as artists.
We sell product, but we do so with the artful placement of visuals and copy, with the tasteful and delicate dropping of copy points, with the masterful balance of color and weight.
But there’s also a science to it.
I recently ran across an article on buffer.com, a social media management service, about the science of copy, and how to write ad copy in a way that provokes curiosity and makes readers and users more likely to read and remember.
One of those points jumped out, and reminded me of an article I read about two men, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, who wanted to resell cheap knickknacks on eBay. Rather than merely describing the products, they wrote personal stories about them.
They were testing a theory that emotional stories increase the value of an object, and so they could sell the products for more money. They purchased around $130 worth of thrift-store items, like a ceramic horse bust. Accompanying the ceramic bust, for example, was a rambling story that took place in Paris during the mid 1970’s about the author’s drunken father being sewn temporarily inside a dead horse’s belly, which inspired her mother to paint that ceramic horse years later.
They sold every item and netted nearly $8,000.
Which brings me to the scientific point of the article I first mentioned which is this: story-telling activates our brains. An ad (or anything) that tells a story is much more likely to be remembered. For example, you are much more likely to remember this blog post because of that horse story I just wrote about. Telling stories to make a memorable point is true on the political campaign trail, in a TV commercial, and in a B2B print ad. As reported by the Harvard Business Review, Nick Morgan, author of the book Power Cues says, “Facts and figures and all the rational things that we think are important in the business world actually don’t stick in our minds at all. Stories create ‘sticky’ memories by attaching emotions to things that happen.”
And, from an article in Inc. magazine: “A story can make a complex business or technical issue much easier to understand and comprehend at a deep level even by a lay person. … It is ideal to create a visceral reaction in your audience—they can actually ‘feel’ the pain associated with the problem, and that they feel the ‘relief’ associated with your solution.”
Here at Pepper Group we’re always looking at new and better ways to promote businesses, get them noticed, and compel customers into action. When we do it well, our clients have their own stories to share—success stories.