Breathtaking . . . or taking breath: The power of the written word in (Internet) marketing

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Two words, switch the order, and you have entirely different meanings and messages. Sometimes, with marketing, a few words count for a lot.  Consider the power of Groupon, which discovered effective copy writing can be the difference between a massively successful Internet enterprise, and just another web fad.

A recent New York Times story notes:

Groupon has nothing so special. It offers discounts on products and services, something that Internet start-up companies have tried to develop as a business model many times before, with minimal success. Groupon’s breakthrough sprang not just from the deals but from an ingredient that was both unlikely and ephemeral: words.

Words are not much valued on the Internet, perhaps because it features so many of them. Newspapers and magazines might have gained vast new audiences online but still can’t recoup the costs from their Web operations of producing the material.

Groupon borrowed some tools and terms from journalism, softened the traditional heavy hand of advertising, added some banter and attitude and married the result to a discounted deal. It has managed, at least for the moment, to make words pay.

IN 177 North American cities and neighborhoods, 31 million people see one of the hundreds of daily deals that Ms. Handler and her colleagues write, and so many of them take the horseback ride or splurge on the spa or have dinner at the restaurant or sign up for the kayak tour that Groupon is raking in more than a billion dollars a year from these featured businesses and is already profitable.

These observations raise some interesting issues.  Would a talented copywriter be worth his or her weight in gold (or more), turning turgid bureaucratic proposals into stories able to sell?  Would a thorough review of all of your marketing material with the eyes and mind of someone skilled with prose permanently change your marketing circumstances.  Could, plain and simple, good writing be your effective “unique selling proposition”?

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