These Aren’t The Droids

Two Ways to Say It

One of these bottles says “PETROLEUM free” and the other says “this bottle is made from plants.” In one case, I’m thinking about a big plastic bottle of oil. In the other case, I’m thinking about how they could possibly turn bottles into plants and such.

I learned that a long time ago with my own requests for people to subscribe to my blog via email:

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address, and get ONLY the blog sent to you from that address (I respect your privacy):

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Instead of “We won’t SPAM you,” I learned to change that to “We respect your privacy.”

Sometimes, the art of marketing is in learning what not to say on the way to pointing out what it is we think is most important to our buyer.

What say you?

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  • Annasu763

     Well, the post is actually the sweetest on this deserving topic. I agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your incoming update

  • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

    Hi Chris,

    Learning what “not” to say is one of the foundations of life. Ask any parent, spouse, teacher, child…

    Thanks for showing us an example from business.

    PS. The “PETROLEUM free” people should have tested… or contracted with you.

  • http://www.howdoesthatmakeyoubuy.com Doug Rice

    Chris, great observation. The idea of telling a customer that you aren’t going to do something harmful to them is absurd. It should go without saying. When you say I won’t do this, that , or the other, you are putting it into their heads that there is a possibility that you would. It’s just bad PR.

  • http://www.cat-lovers-only.com/ Kurt Schmitt

    Huh? I don’t get it. One of the bottles says it’s made 100 percent from plants, so assuming I believe that, there’s no doubt. The other says “up to” <– nice marketing speak for "we can do anything we want" 30 percent plant-based. So, at the very least, it's 70 percent and maybe 100 percent non-plant (what non-plant substances it is I don't know). I'll take the 100 percent plant one please and thank you. What am I missing?

  • http://www.cat-lovers-only.com/ Kurt Schmitt

    Huh? I don’t get it. One of the bottles says it’s made 100 percent from plants, so assuming I believe that, there’s no confusion. The other says “up to” <– nice marketing speak for "we can do anything we want" 30 percent plant-based. So, at the very least, it's 70 percent and maybe 100 percent non-plant (what non-plant substances it is I don't know). I'll take the 100 percent plant one please and thank you. What am I missing?

    • Anonymous

      I think the point is that on first glance, the one that says “made from plants” is the more appealing one. A lot of people won’t take the time to read the labels. For the people that read the labels, it wouldn’t matter as much what the label did or didn’t say.

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    This is why good copywriters should be paid well….

  • Dewane Mutunga

    Knowing how to communicate your offering is just as important as anything else that goes into the marketing process. If you have a great offering but don’t know how to communicate with prospect how do you expect to sell anything? It’s like speaking a foreign language.

    Know Thy Customer!

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    Don’t we want to be free from Petroleum.. I guess for someone that thinks they are eco-friendly and drives a big SUV your point is very badly. I agree using positive message help out on many occasions! 

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Right, don’t think about the bad taste that ISN’T in this water. 

      • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

        the power of convincing me with a few words …. I agree.. I was only joking with the comment of wanting to be free from petroleum.. I just saw what I wrote about your point being very badly.. I meant you had a good point and for them the made out of plant message would be more appealing. That happens when you go on the 20 minute plan of answering twitter and blogs with other tasks at hand.. (what an excuse) I apologize for the inconvenience. 

  • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

    Yes. Imagine if instead of ‘free range chickens’ the label said “we don’t cage our chickens and let them eat their own poop.” Yes you won the comparison game, but now instead of thinking about a delightful meal of chicken, all I can think about is being grossed out… and the sale is lost! 

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    It’s definitely in the wording. It’s why I have a “Work With Me” tab as opposed to Hire Me – same idea, big difference in approach.

    Just outta curiosity, is something wonky with your design at the minute? In Chrome, at least, I get these weird side columns, and the main nav bar turns to white? (see attached)

    • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

      same here re the design issues

    • Dewane Mutunga

      I’ve also noticed these design issue when using chrome on this site.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Yeah, I broke something. Will fix it soon. Thanks for pointing it out. 

      • Jodi Kaplan

        Broken in Firefox too.

  • http://www.internetmarketingsource.net Sam Beamond

    Perfect Chris. I took your “we respect your privacy” line for feed subscriptions a few months back! I recently read a blog article that talked a little about this (cant remember where now). It focused on the “about” page and how to write it about the reader not about the writer. How can engaging this company help THEM.

  • Anonymous

    Chris, great point.  Often finding the right language is essential to getting people to take the next step in a conversation or with a purchase.  Organizations need to find the positives in what they offer and highlight them.  And that frequently means making decisions about what not to say about your product.  The challenge is to do this while making sure that you are being honest about what you are selling.  If you go too far you run a serious risk of losing the trust of your audience and turning your customers into critics.  

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

    Indirect vs. Direct. That’s be the question!

    I love operating under the premise of “The rule of communication is to NOT be misunderstood.” Sometimes to keep yourself from confusing people, you’ve gotta be direct and other times indirect says so much more than direct!

    I say, don’t get cute and get out of you and your product/service and into your perfect prospect/customer’s mindset so that you speak to exactly where they are in this moment in their life instead of where you are.

    This clarifies your message and takes it from Petroleum… to Plant Based.

  • http://bestresearchpaper.com/ research paper

    thanks for the pos! very interesting!!!

  • Anonymous

    This was literally the first thing I read this morning, and now here we are 8 hours later, and I’m coming back to comment. Forgot what my witty repartee was going to be. I hate when that happens….

    In any case, maybe the takeaway is figure out a way to ask someone to RT something, without actually coming out and saying, “Please RT,” as you said in a previous post. 

  • http://mogostyle.com Raiman Au

    I remember reading somewhere that the brain doesn’t process negatives. That’s why when you tell a kid “do NOT put your elbows on the table,” they hear “elbows” and “table” and end up doing it. So it’s better to say “keep your elbows at your sides.”

    Same thing with “don’t think about a yellow elephant.”

    Hmm, after writing that, it seems like kids process words like search engines, lol.
    And aren’t we all still kids?

  • http://mogostyle.com Raiman Au

    Speaking of kids, when I was a kid, if I saw that bottle, I would have thought:

    “Woah, so I can get petroleum for FREE?! Awesome!”

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    This is such a great post and loved it Its just an idea which makes a whole lot of difference the way we market our product.

  • http://www.d2moto.com/c-758-harley-davidson-accessories.aspx Harley Parts

    It was a nice blog. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. In fact your creative writing ability has inspired me.

  • http://www.simplyzesty.com Niall Harbison

    It’s a good point but having said that I do prefer the ice clean design of the white bottle and I rarely read what is on the labels and would have chosen the white one on cleanliness and design alone. I suppose the noce copy like you suggest combined with the nice design and they would be laughing all the way to the bank!

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    Who are at risk of losing the trust of your audience and customers to turn their critics.

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