Sunday, January 13, 2013

Is Your Marketing Message A Diamond in the Rough?

In his book, The Marketing Imagination, Ted Levitt famously said, "people don't buy things; they buy the meaning of the thing. Value of a product or service is not in the thing, but the meaning with which our target market imbues it. 

I conceptualize and develop marketing communications in traditional and new direct marketing media.

Clients come to me for assistance writing a more effective brochure, press release, press kit, sales letter or web site. They want insight about how to use social media. They want help with email marketing.

I often start from the ground up and excel at taking a concept from blank page to publication. More often than not, I do strategic rewriting.


More often than not, the medium doesn't work because it has no message. It's bait without a hook.

Consider the diamond. It's a rock, okay?

In the hands of a master jeweler, a diamond's beauty comes to life. The cut. The clarity. The color. The carats. Now it's a pretty rock. But of itself, a diamond is no prize until it's beheld by an appreciative audience. Moreover, its value varies depending on who's looking at it.

A diamond wholesaler sees resale value. A jeweler sees a way to add to his merchandise selection, enhance his reputation for quality and profit. A man who wishes to marry sees an investment in his future happiness. And the woman who eventually wears it sees love forever.

In fact, the marketing of diamonds and the branding of De Beers is one of the advertising triumphs of the last 100 years.

Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the company, engaged in many unethical marketing practices to control the supply of diamonds, making them rare. But he nailed the emotional appeal of a De Beers diamond with a slogan coined in 1947 by Frank Gerety, a young copywriter working for N. W. Ayer & Son.

"A Diamond is Forever," perfectly captures the significance of a diamond as a symbol of enduring love. On the mark. At a glance. In a single take.

In my experience, rare is the company or entrepreneur that offers no distinctive value - or that cannot develop it through thoughtful analysis. It's there. Sometimes it just takes objectivity to recognize it and a little strategic creativity to clarify the significance and polish out the rough edges.

We don't add up benefits to a sum that's greater than our competitors. We boil them down to its essence. Not the thing; but the meaning of the thing. Not the words, but the music. The sizzle, not the steak.

The effect is synergy - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Results are exponential.


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