Writing About Intangibles

To help you create messages that sell more of what can’t be seen, we are sharing an article by Pat Friesen that appeared in Target Marketing Magazine. Whether you sell insurance, toilet tune-ups, home loans, teleconferencing, investment services or other intangibles, we hope these tips help.

  • Call to action. This is basic, but often overlooked and undervalued. Tell people what you want them to do and why they should do it. What action do you want your customer to take as a result of receiving your message? What can you do to motivate your customer to call, click or complete an application?
  • Humanize benefits. Show people enjoying the end benefit of what you sell. For example, most parents want their children to get an education. So, if you market loans or insurance, show a smiling graduate in cap and gown with a benefit caption below it.
  • “You can’t say that.” The next time your attorney or compliance officer utters these words after reading your copy, respond with, “OK, what can I say?” It may mean changing just one or two words, and may make your copy even stronger.
  • Engage them with something unusual. Providing toilet tune-ups is more attention-grabbing than saying you check for leaks and rusted parts.
  • Focus on customer benefits, not company history. Nobody really cares that you are headquartered in Omaha, Neb., and have been in business for more than a hundred years unless you tell them why it’s important. Such as, you have a hundred-year history of paying claims promptly, and customer service calls are all taken in the heart of America, not offshore.
  • Create an offer with value that supports what you sell. Instead of giving away pricey tangibles such as iPods or free dinners, provide an easy-to-use calculator or a free checklist. Consumers value information that educates and empowers.
  • Keep it simple. Intangibles are often perceived as being difficult to understand. Confusion slows down decision making and results in avoidance. Your marketing mission is to make your product simple and understandable.
  • Never use the words “applying is easy” … unless it’s true. When was the last time you completed your company’s application? Give it to five people who fit your customer profile but don’t work for your company, and ask them to fill it out. Watch them do it. Simple-to-complete applications/forms combine the right words with good design, simple organization and readable typefaces.
  • Write in plain English. Yes, insurance and financial services do have regulatory content that must be included. However, don’t pepper your marketing copy with killer words like “undersigned” and “the party of the first part”. Instead, use plain English that’s easily understood.
  • Have your creative team work as a team. No matter which media you use, you get the best, most effective end product when you have your writer, designer, programmer and others involved in the creative process work together. Don’t isolate them.
  • Cross-sell. Cross-sell to both customers and prospects.
  • Reactivate. Policy holders lapse and account owners close their accounts, but this doesn’t mean they don’t want to do business with you again. Did you know that customers that previously had a relationship with you are more likely to buy than cold prospects? However, they need reassurance that you still love them. And they need to be asked. This applies across all industries, all products and services, tangible and intangible. In economic times like these, reactivation is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate new business.

How can we help you deliver a message about the intangible benefits that you bring to your customers?

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