*What’s up? I’m George. I used to work with Dave at Drift and now help to manage his content at DGMG. I’ve been known to sling copy from time to time, so Dave asked me to throw a blog in here and there.
Ok, really quick and really fun blog here. Well not like going to a casino during March Madness fun, but marketing fun. Whatever, I think it’s fun as far as blogs go.
So I write a lot of blogs, emails, social posts, etc. And, as any marketer will tell you, it can get really stale if you’re just creating generic marketing thought leadership content over and over. Not that there’s anything wrong with giving expert tips on popular marketing topics — That’s valuable information that young marketers want to know.
But there needs to be a balance. That’s why I strive to divide my content between high-level thought leadership and specific, real-life examples of marketing principles in action. It’s also why Dave keeps, and has now made public, a Swipe File.
A swipe file should be present on every marketer’s desktop and filled to the brim with screenshots of tweets, emails, ebooks, blogs, headlines, etc. that stand out to you. Swipe files are so effective because they take a concept like “Copy should be specific” and put it in context. Now instead of an abstract marketing principle, you have a tangible example of that principle and understand why it works. It’s engaging, it’s visually stimulating, and it appeals to viewers in a way that a simple thought leadership post never could.
So for this post, I wanted to take a look at a few examples from the DGMG Swipe File and pull out some marketing lessons that you can glean from each. Here we go:
Social Proof, Social Proof, Social Proof, Social Pr…
Want me to keep going? I can say social proof a million more times and it still won’t be enough.
Social proof is compelling because it’s unbiased and uninfluenced. I could write a sonnet extolling the virtues of my brand, all the wonderful benefits and features our product offers, and this, that, and the other thing. It won’t matter. No one will ultimately be swayed by what I say about my brand. Outside of Dominos that one time, no one is ever going to openly say that their own brand sucks.
You’re not credible because you have skin in the game. But customers, prospects, and third party viewers who have no stake in your success? Their word goes a long way. They have no reason to pump your tires other than to genuinely praise your work and how you’ve helped them. That’s why littering your website, social channels, blogs, etc with proof is ESSENTIAL for building your brand credibility. Check out this page from Basecamp’s website:
That’s an entire page of just testimonials! How compelling is that? Look at the way the page is structured. It’s not overly-stylized. There’s no graphics. It’s just quotes from “hundreds of customers about what changed for the better since they switched to Basecamp.”
You can’t come up with a marketing campaign anywhere near as strong as that. A 50-page pitch deck would be less effective at selling Basecamp than that single website page. It’s real. These are real people who used the product and had such a positive experience with it that they gave a testimonial. And it’s not 1 or 2 customers. It’s HUNDREDS of them. Really compelling stuff.
Let the Copy Tell the Story
There’s a lot of focus on design in marketing. And rightfully so. Finding a good designer is tough and having a marketing team without one is a recipe for disaster.
But sometimes when crafting an ad, far too much emphasis is placed on the design and the copy becomes an afterthought. Now obviously I’m biased because I believe the pen is mightier than the sword (metaphorically, do NOT test this theory literally). But while the design captures attention, the copy ultimately makes the sale.
That’s why I LOVE this NYT ad from Away, the popular luggage brand:
Yeah…there’s no graphic. Away chose to let the copy tell the story here. It’s simple, it’s compelling, and it weirdly captures your attention because the lack of graphic ironically makes it stand out.
Look at the headline. It’s intriguing, it’s contradictory on the surface. It compels you to read more. Then the copy is simple, short, and perfectly broken up for better readability.
Finally, the messaging itself is timely and brilliant. It subtly hints at recent American social unrest, calling out a need for more empathy and understanding of different cultures. It also plays into patriotism and a desire for a more unified country.
Not once does it mention the fact that they’re a luggage company. Hell if it weren’t for the logo in the bottom right, I wouldn’t have any idea who wrote this or why. It’s like how Michelin started a food guide encouraging travel across the country/world to various restaurants because they knew people would need new tires for their journeys. They never directly promote their brand, but still benefit from the guide.
Away is encouraging travel and implying that you should use their suitcases to do so, but in a context entirely devoid of any off-putting salesmanship. The copy is the hero here.
Highlight the Benefits
Ok this one is actually my example. I took this photograph literally yesterday from the window of my parents new Boston apartment (shoutout Kath and Steve):
That’s a billboard atop an apartment building a couple blocks over. I texted that to Dave the second I saw it and encouraged adding it to the Swipe File. He agreed.
Do you know how many apartments are available for rent in Boston? I’ll save you the Google search — it’s a lot. And in that part of the city, many of the nicer apartment buildings look and feel the same. The square footage is similar, the security is about the same, costs are fairly standard. They’re also all clustered near one another, so there’s no real geographical advantage to picking one building over the other.
In other words, none of those buildings stand out. Then all of a sudden you have that billboard. Wow, that place has a pool. I want to go online and look at the Hub50 House to see what other cool stuff they have to offer.
They’re obviously not the only apartment complex in Boston with a pool, but by highlighting that benefit so prominently they both stand out from the crowd, and build some positive brand awareness right off the bat. If I’m walking by looking for an apartment in that area, you can bet that place will be on my tour list.
Have a great weekend!