I recently saw an interesting TV commercial for the Olive Garden restaurant that's been running for some time.
The scene: Several generations of Italian-Americans are sitting together at a table in the Olive Garden, laughing, joking, eating, and generally having a bang-up time. The tag line is: "When you're here, you're family."
This is a purely emotional sell. The announcer doesn't argue that the meatballs are eighteen percent larger at the Olive Garden than they are down the street, or even claim that the food tastes better or costs less. The only promise is that "When you're here, you're family."
The Olive Garden campaign is designed to show that the restaurants are a locus of a deeply satisfying experience of affection and connectedness. It is this emotional nourishment (the Gemütlichkeit, not the gnocchi) that the Olive Garden is really selling.
So what does all of this have to do with the kind of advertising and marketing that we high-tech industry types are involved with every day?
Well, it's important to understand that we, in high technology, are often using very different techniques than those used by our packaged-goods friends on Madison Avenue.
You see, as high-tech marketers, we rarely rely on the emotional. We thrive on the rational. We care about specifications, bench-marks, facts, system requirements, and "solutions." Because what we have to sell is always new, often unique, and (sadly) complex, we have to explain what the heck our products actually do. It's difficult for us to harness the powerful human emotions that motivate consumers of packaged goods.
But some tech companies try . . . and some succeed. Brilliantly. For example, I think the original Apple Macintosh marketing communications materials produced when the Mac was launched were absolutely terrific and still stand up beautifully today.
It's no surprise that I think so. You see, I wrote a lot of those materials for Apple, including the first catalog of software available for the Mac -- all forty-eight applications!
In that "Summer 1984" catalog I didn't dwell on the technical features of the Mac or of the software. My goal was to create a sense that using a Mac and its innovative applications was super cool. That, in fact, you were super cool if you put your feet up on your desk, sipped a cup of coffee, and wrote that great American novel with MacWrite and 128K of memory.
The moral of all of this?
When in doubt, don't repudiate the "rational sell" that has served the high-tech industry so well. But at the same time, always stay on the lookout for creative new ways to humanize your marketing materials and push those emotional "hot buttons" that motivate consumers.
When you do, you'll move a lot of product; whether it's pizzas or iPads.
If you want to see what kind things Apple had to say about my role in launching Lisa, The Apple Information Center, and the Macintosh:
One more thing . . . Please don't typecast me as purely a high-tech copywriter. I write for all kinds of companies and would love to tell you how I can make money for you! Give me a call at 415-461-0672 and let's talk. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are my copywriting services expensive? Nope. In fact, they're surprisingly reasonable. Let me give you a quote and I'll prove it.