The Word Works

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Seduced into Buying, It Sounds Familiar

Published By: John on 02/19/13
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In the previous essay, Nakahata describes advertising as an uninvited guest. How does the salesman get his foot in the door?

A senryu (comic haiku) says, “We buy because of the salesman’s hometown dialect.”
Like door-to-door salesmen, ads are uninvited guests. It’s no secret what they are trying to do. But perhaps we can learn something from this poem.
When a product has an overwhelming edge, we can simply list the sales points. Hardly ever, however, do we see such a product. Unless the price is amazingly low, this kind of sales talk doesn’t work.
What is missing?
The local flavor.
But what is that?
Why does that sturdy straightforward approach make us feel secure?
What is it about it that opens the door?
In it we sense the persistence when confronting adversity that we always admire in someone else.
That gets to us, we feel compassion.
If the dialect reminds us of home, that’s an extra plus.
There are, however, two points to note here.
First, tone and manner. The dialect adds no material value whatever. It is clearly just atmosphere. But most products these days aren’t that different from other products. Our likes and dislikes are rooted in aspiration or familiarity. These are what drive sales.
Second, careful attention to detail. From the salesman who happens to ring the doorbell of someone from his hometown, we have nothing to learn. Our model is the one who may have been born in an upscale neighborhood in Tokyo but has taken the trouble to learn where his customer is from and worked hard to be able to casually use words with the right hometown feel.  This is an acquired skill.  Not easy but the ability to touch a consumer’s heart requires this level of skill and service.
Does the ad you are working on display this kind of skill? This kind of service?

From Nakahata Takashi 2008 Want everybody to love you, everybody will hate you. pp. 16-18

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