Forgotten Marketing Stories - a new series(ep1).

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Hi WF community, I am starting a new series here, based entirely on some of the world's most successful marketing campaigns ever run. I will be sharing stories of GODS of copywriting - writers who passed away a long time ago, but their words and headlines still echo somewhere. Throughout the series, we will be discussing some of the basic rules of marketing that are still applicable today. So, let's not wait anymore and dive inside!

(I am sharing one mind-boggling and breath-stopping marketing story from one of the most Popular copywriters of all time: Bill Bernbach - if you don't know him, you are missing a gold mine.)

The famous headline: We are #2. So, we try harder.

This all took place in 1962, when the CEO of Avis, a rental car company, called in Bill bernach (who was a creative director in his own company - DDB), to get all the best heads rub together in a desperate desire to beat their competitor, Hertz - the market leader of rental car business. CEO of Avis, Robert Townsend, knew for the fact that Hertz is spending five dollars for every one dollar Avis is spending on advertising. And unless an extraordinary brilliance is put into marketing, Hertz will completely dominate Avis very soon.
And that's when Bernach's brilliance came into action...He convinced Avis's CEO that
"Most of the clients run our advertisement through rigorous approvals and suggestions, destroying our originality. If you promise to accept whatever our company recommends, every employee in my office will love to work on your account."

Fast forward 90 days, Bill Bernbach came up with this ingenious marketing concept of casually accepting that we are No.2, and then building an argument of "That's why we try harder" over it. As expected, there were screams of discontent all over the Avis work-place. Most of them equated it with company's suicide. Others considered it foolish. HOW ON EARTH COULD A COMPANY ACCEPT THAT IT IS RANKED #2? That's not what a typical marketing campaign do.

Since Townsend promised to stick up to Bill's recommendations, he went ahead with it. What next? Avis's "we try harder" campaign turned out to be the most exemplary, unique and most popular campaigns of all time (with companies profit soaring to 35% -a figure they once dreamed off.) The last line of the print ad posted above is considered "one of the best last-liners ever written". It goes like this "The line at our counter is shorter".

[Since, they were the second best, they had less workload (The line at our counter is shorter), and they give best customer satisfaction because they want to reach the No.1 spot (We try harder).]

The "we try harder" slogan remained with Avis for next 50 years to come. It was changed in 2012 due to evolving market trends and consumer needs.

What are the takeaways for today's internet marketers?

1). The most striking thing about "we try harder" campaign was its honesty. It clearly accepted the fact that it ranks #2. Although this concept won't work in every campaign (imagining Samsung accepting its 2nd spot to apple), the bottom line is: Whatever your product is, stay honest with your facts and figures. Establish a relation with your prospect based on trust, honesty, and commitment.

2). Understanding the art of angle. The campaign was a success because Bill Bernach viewed Avis with a different unique angle. When all they typical marketers go for conventional tactics, only those who view the product with unique angles stand out. Probably the best example in today's internet world is the way Buzzfeed crafts its news titles. Brad smith has done a whole blog post at ad expresso on how Buzzfeed is absolutely genius in crafting its titles. They present same news that is probably already all over the internet, but with different angles that hook up the brain and make it almost irresistible to click. Here is a typical buzzfeed news title:

You can read more about this in the blog post.

3). Sometimes, all you need is a good copy. No fancy graphics, No blinking buttons, No A/B testings on which 'color' converts more. Just a simple strong message.

Are there any additional takeaways I am missing? Are the simple marketing concepts of 1960's still applicable in today's world? I am curious to know. PS please let me know, should I continue writing this series or I just bored the shit out of you?

#copywriting #forgotten #internet marketing #marketing #seriesep1 #stories

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