Reason Why: The Most Persuasive Tool in Advertising
An excerpt from my longtime copywriting mentor, Gary Bencivenga in Marketing Bullets
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Originally shared in The Graphics Grapevine, October 2010 (!!)
EXAMPLE The Slice soft drink campaign claimed that Slice is a better-tasting soft drink because it contains 10% fruit juice. That little reason in the headline made all the difference in the world.
In a product category that's renowned for a sky-high failure rate among new products, Slice quickly captured 7% of a $30-billion-a-year soft drink market on the strength of this one little proof element,10% fruit juice.
To see how critical that line is to its success, try taking it away, and what do you have? "Slice, a better-tasting soft drink." Nothing there but a bland claim. But because it contains 10% fruit juice, you think, maybe I'll try it. There's a good reason to.
In his book The Psychology of Influence, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini writes, “a well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason.”
In two studies cited in his book, 93% and 94% of subjects were persuaded to let someone jump to the front of the line, solely by the word "because," even when the "reason" that followed wasn't particularly rational or logical. Without that magic word only 60% cooperated.
With written words, I believe the bar is raised a little higher because people are more deliberative when they read. So, when using the written word, you'll enjoy maximum results when you use lots of "becauses," followed by compelling reasons.
EXAMPLE I could encourage you to read these Marketing Bullets regularly by saying, "Read the Bullets—you'll be glad you did!" But you'll probably feel a stronger pull of persuasion if I urge you to read these Bullets:
...Because they are based not on opinions but on solid research of the most effective ways to influence others, as well as literally thousands of scientific split-run tests.
...Because they will help you become a master of persuasion in any medium.
...Because they are the best gems of persuasion and direct response wisdom I have gleaned from almost 40 years of hard work, passionate dedication and relentless searching for the best ways to make others respond favorably ... and because you can profit from all this free.
...Because they are shortcuts to whatever you want in life—money, fame, status and the freedom of financial independence, all of which can be yours once you know how to persuade others to do what you ask.
These excellent reasons, framed by "because," are infinitely stronger than a lame claim like, "you'll be glad you did." When you give people rational, logical and honest-to-goodness reasons to act in their own self interest—voila—they do! “Because” lets you open almost any heart, mind or door.