Basics of All Advertising and Selling: Why!


Don’t argue with me. There are only two reasons why anyone buys anything. Period.

The only reasons why you or anybody else buys anything, anytime, anywhere is to either get something new or protect what you already have. That’s it, baby. Ain’t no other reasons so don’t go scratching anything trying to find more reasons. Let’s get specific.

Your 6-year-old BMW needs work. Do you fix it or buy a new one? Likewise with your favorite sport coat. Spend more than it’s worth with the tailor or buy a new one? Some purchases do cover both bases: a new insurance policy protects your home? A mutual fund protects your financial assets and helps them grow for new wealth. But basically all purchases are to either get something new or protect what you already have.

Why’s this so important if you’re already using the other “Hi-5 Eternal Truths” of Benefit, Seduction, Verisimilitude and When that have already made you a better copywriter? Knowing the “Why” something will be bought helps the copywriter select the words and themes relevant to the reason. If selling a new BMW model, use words like “new,” “state of the art,” “hi-tech,” faster, but safer,” “improved mileage,” “more interior room,” and “be the first kid on the block to have one.”

Let’s protect that 6 yr old BMW. The dealer or independent shop should use words like “keep your car running longer,” “restore original pep,” “protect your BMW,” “save money with proper maintenance” and “how to keep your car running longer.” See the difference? Use the words that emphasize the reason behind the buying decision (new or protect) and your copy will acquire an exciting new life and have more impact, press more hot buttons of self interest (remember that one?) and be more effective.

Lewis R. Elin
Lewis R. Elin Consulting
Lewis R. Elin spent most of his working career selling work uniforms and flame resistant safety clothing via direct mail and catalogs. He is a recipient of the DMMA “Direct Mail Spokesman” award and participated in panels and lectured for the DMMA and the DMA. He co-taught a course on Direct Mail Basics at the Indiana University extensions in South Bend and Indianapolis. He has also lectured at the Merit Direct Business Mailer’s Summer Co-Op. Mr. Elin is best known for his “Hi-5 Eternal Truths of All Successful Direct Mail Advertising.”

About Nate Marks

We live and work in a world of visual images.
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