Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sell the sizzle, not the steak

You've probably heard the saw, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." What this means is that most consumers buy a product not because of what the product is, but what the product will mean in their lives. People don't buy insurance, they buy its benefits such as freedom from economic ruin and peace of mind.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, like when you're selling to experts.
For example, if you're pitching a commercial auto policy to commercial dry cleaners with a small van fleet, describing trailer interchange coverage may not be necessary. But if you're pitching a trucking firm, experts at switching trailers, the trailer interchange coverage becomes a policy benefit and you'd better be able to talk about "dead-heading," "pigs," and "gross vehicle weight."

Your direct mail attempts to the general public must focus on benefits. There are several ways to do this creatively and good direct mail copywriters can help you through the process. If you aren't specific about what benefits you offer in your copy, you'll end up with "puffery." Puffery is overblown phrases like "We provide the best customer service" or "We offer the fastest claims service." Wikipedia offers a great definition of puffery.

Puffery is a waste of copy space. It's always better to state a specific benefit. "Because of our outstanding customer service, last year, 95 percent of our customers renewed with us," speaks to readers more than phrases like "the best customer service."

Top direct-mail copywriters agree: The best direct mail copy is written by writers familiar with the product you are trying to sell. I'd love to help you with your direct mail projects. Contact me via my website, Insurance Writer.

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