In his classic book, Scientific Advertising (Harper & Brothers, 1936), Claude Hopkins wrote, “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck.”

But it’s the sentence that followed, that we, as marketers trying to build profits, need to imprint into our brains.

“They leave no impression whatever.”

When’s the last time you slammed on the brakes because you saw an ‘Our prices have been reduced’ in the window of one of your favorite stores?

Best in the world. Supreme in quality. Faster than the competition.

Blah, blah and blah. In fact, by being so general, you almost set yourself up for marketing failure.

Specifics, on the other hand, sell.

And here’s why:

Your sales argument can often be amplified when you make it specific.

Say that your toothpaste makes teeth much whiter than another brand and you leave doubt. Say it whitens by removing up to 90% of stains in just 14 days for a noticeably whiter smile and people realize that you have made tests and comparisons.

So, if specifics are so much better at attracting a prospect’s attention and getting him to buy, why don’t more marketers do it?

There are two reasons.

First, it takes effort to research and understand information about products and markets. It’s difficult work. It takes time. Often the writer takes the easy route and writes the sales copy from a brochure without taking time to dig out the little known facts that often tip the scales in favor of a sale.

On their website, Tilley Hats offers a 4-page owners manual for their Raffia hats. Four pages! For a hat!

Check it out and you’ll almost feel obliged to buy one after you see the detail some copywriter has pulled together so you will be convinced of the value of owning a Tilley Raffia hat.

Stuff like this: The raffia palm plant from Madagascar has the longest leaves in the plant kingdom – up to 20 metres (over 60 feet) in length.The long fibres obtained from the raffia palm are braided by hand. Each braid is then sewn together into a ‘form’ which is ‘blocked’ using presses, steam and molds. The result is a beautifully shaped hat with a tight weave that provides excellent sun-blocking protection without losing its breathability. It is these wonderfully flexible fibres that make it crushable and easy to pack.

Second, some writers are not research oriented. Some do not believe specifics are important. Many feel tone and emotion are enough to carry the day and that consumers do not want facts.


Keep in mind, your prospects have no idea what goes into delivering your product or service. It’s your job to communicate the specifics behind your great offering and present them to your prospect in the form of benefits.

Go back and re-read how the writer used specific facts about the making of the Raffia Tilley hat to explain to the reader how it would benefit him. Pretty convincing.

Wouldn’t you be more likely to pay extra for a Tilley hat when the value behind it is presented in such an compelling way?

And there’s an added benefit for those who take time to write more specific copy.

Not only will it help you sell more, you can charge a premium for your product or service because the prospect understands the value he is getting.

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