The house sat on the market with some interest from buyers, but not much. The copy in the realtor's listing and on their web site described the house with qualifiers such as: "The wood stove is a focal point of the living room, but the insurance company will not insure the house if a new owner uses the stove to burn wood" (not the exact words, but certainly the essence of them).
After some thought and review of some advertising principles* the following ad copy was substituted for the realtor's:
Wind Haven - more than a home, a lifestyle.
A ten minute drive South from town takes you to 20 wooded acres of secluded privacy, just one mile off highway. Relax by walks through the woods, horseback riding, roasting marshmallows, playing horseshoes, soaking in the hot tub or just curl up with a good book and enjoy the view of the mixed forest and, maybe some passing deer, through one of the many double glazed windows.
Low maintenance landscaping means you own the property not it owns you. The present owners have never felt the need to have a cottage with the relaxed lifestyle provided by Wind Haven. There's no lake, but there is peace and quiet that you won't find in cottage row and you don't have to leave home to get there.
Cedar lined family room with hot tub and sky-light Three bedrooms Ensuite bathroom Natural shake roof Attached two-car garage Natural gas furnace (new in 1997) 30 inch diameter, 54 foot deep, bored well has always provided an ample supply of soft water Two story tree house Log "trapper's" cabin makes ideal tack shed Metal roofed horse shed, room for two horses Corral and two small pastures Stone wishing well / planter
An interested buyer read the description on the web site, called the realtor for a viewing the day she read it and bought the house subject to her husband's approval and the sale of their existing house. They are very happy there and after a year and a half in the house say "we wouldn't sell it for twice what we paid."
Ad copy that works without distorting the truth results in both sales and satisfied customers.
1. Overt Benefit: Specifically, obviously,directly - What's in it for the customer?
2. Real Reason to Believe: Why should the customer believe you will deliver on the promise you made above?
3. Dramatic Difference: How revolutionary and new to the world is your combined benefit and reason to believe?
The realtor meant well. She wanted to ensure the benefits of the house were presented and she wanted to ensure a prospective buyer knew of any thing that was a potential problem. However, trying to do both at the same time in the same copy presented a confusing message to any would-be buyer.
All the normal disclosures and legal disclaimers were made at the right
times. A house inspection was done and any issues from that were
resolved, but the key is that there is a time and place for all things. "May
contain nuts" has it's place on the cookie package label and a prominent enough place
as well, but it is not the benefit the potential cookie buyer is looking
for, nor the reason to believe those cookies will live up to the promise nor how dramatically different those cookies are from all other cookies or snacks or other competitors for the buyer's appetite and purse. The time to read "may contain nuts" is after the package is in the potential buyer's hand.
I first saw Doug Hall on CBC's Venture some years ago. He is an inventor with a bit of a Canadian connection, having adopted PEI as a summer base and providing free small business consulting there as a break from his imagineering and product development for bigger companies like Tyson Foods. He seems to have a handle on the nuts and bolts of marketing and why some advertising works and other doesn't. I have only read the one book by him, but you may find his other books of interest:
A related book with a foreword by Doug hall:
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