Why ‘Explain Your Obvious’ is the Secret of Persuasive Writing

Here’s a passage from a genius book called Scientific Advertising, written by Claude Hopkins in 1923:

“In the old days all beers were advertised as "Pure." The claim made no impression. The bigger the type used, the bigger the folly.

After millions had been spent to impress a platitude, one brewer pictured a plate glass where beer was cooled in filtered air. He pictured a filter of white wood pulp through which every drop was cleared. He told how bottles were washed four times by machinery. How he went down 4,000 feet for pure water. How 1,018 experiments had been made to attain years to give beer that matchless flavor. And how all the yeast was forever made from that adopted mother cell.

All claims were such as any brewer might have made. They were mere essentials in ordinary brewing. But he was the first to tell the people about them, while others cried merely "pure beer." He made the greatest success that was ever made in beer advertising. “

To summarise in snappier, more contemporary terms: explaining what’s blatantly obvious to you, could turn out to be advertising gold.

One of the reasons I tend not to accept work from potential clients who don’t want to chat with me first, is because the resulting content must then be sourced from other people’s websites. 

That makes the writing unoriginal, which in turn makes it weak and dull…

… which in turn makes me question: why am I writing this at all?

(For anyone thinking, because you’re getting paid, stupid, there’s usually a direct correlation between client stinginess, and a flagrant lack of interest in the work being done on their behalf).

For the best results, go back to basics

If you want to try coming up with some original copy for yourself, do a Craig David and re, re-wind.

How?  Try asking yourself:

- How and why did I start my business?

- What happens from the moment a potential customer gets in contact?

- How, exactly, do I produce my work?

- Where do I choose to work from, and why?

- If I refer to anything in my business as ‘great quality’, ‘unique’, or ‘exceptional’, what do I mean?

Break down and explain your processes, until you hit on something that makes your tummy fizz.

Not sure what findings you could use in your writing?  Chatting with someone who doesn’t know much about your business could help shine a light on what has the potential to interest people most.

You could use the same techniques to reveal business aspects that make you truly original. 

For example, one of my clients owns a vintage clothes shop.  She carefully wraps each online order herself, and she pops a little hand-written thank-you note into every package.  She also contacts her regular clients personally, if she stumbles across a great vintage find that she thinks they’ll love.

She didn’t think this aspect of her service was special or different – in fact, she assumed all independent shop owners did the same. 

But they don’t, do they?