Sell The Story

This is a guest post from Stephen Dean. Thanks Stephen!

How do you make a normal product special?

Simple, sell the story.  And if you don’t have a story to sell, find one.

If you’ve ever read Claude Hopkins’ book, “My Life In Advertising,” then you know what I mean.

Let me share a story from the book.

Ever heard of a carpet sweeper?  The carpet sweeper was invented in the late 1870’s, and were used quiet frequently until vacuums largely replaced them.

They were popular, but boring.  Like baking soda, many homes owned one but only needed to replace it every 10 years.

Still, the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company needed to sell more sweepers if the business was to grow.  Their plan, like many businesses today, was to simply create a better sweeper. And hopefully consumers would drop their old sweeper for a new and improved one.

Claude Hopkins was their ad man. And he had a different idea entirely.

After learning about an exotic wood from India, harvested in Government camps by convicts and hauled out by Elephants… he demanded the new sweepers be constructed from this wood.

The businessmen laughed at Claude.  Carpet Sweeper’s could be made from any wood, why import wood from India?

Because Claude understood the power of a story.  Where a better carpet sweep had failed, a tale of convicts working with elephants to cut down trees in a foreign land won.

Claude got his way and new carpet sweeps were made of vermilion wood.  The subsequent advertising campaign featured pictures of the Indian Rajah, elephants, exotic forests and told tales of the foreign wood.

It worked.  In Claude’s words:

“The response was overwhelming. The Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company made more money in the next six weeks than they had made in any year before. They had vastly increased the number of dealers handling carpet sweepers. And they had multiplied the interest of women in a device which was then in but limited use.”

The lesson again: if you have a normal product, sell the story. And if you don’t have a story, find one.

Claude Hopkins did it by changing the way the sweepers were manufactured.  You may be able to do the same.

Or you could find a customer of yours with an interesting story and borrow it.

Or you could find an interesting person and associate them with your product. (One-Legged-Golfer anyone?)

All it takes is some imagination combined with curiosity to find a story to sell.

Once you find it, writing a winning ad will come as easy breathing.

Copywriter Stephen Dean writes sales copy that demands champagne celebrations – specializing in health, wealth and product launch copy. He regularly reveals his secrets at his blog, Copywriting Dean.

One Comments

  1. Troy says:

    Choice! You gotta hand it to Uncle Claude. I think this is why good copy is so captivating – it tells a story that drags you in. It is almost like a whodunit. That is why Gary Halbert was so good; he could spin a yarn. I recall those who used to receive Halbert’s letter commenting on how darn interesting his mailed letters were.