Honey Copy

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Riffs on marketing and writing ––

Customer Promise.

copywriting blog

“A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan. It is a benefit for the customer. It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive. And the product must deliver the benefit you promise.” 

— David Ogilvy

If you have previously read one of my articles, you know that I work as a copywriter and content strategist for startups. 

When I write for these startups, (whether that be sales emails, landing pages, video scripts, etc) I notice one problem that comes up again and again ––

staying true to the customer promise. 

No, I am not calling you or any of the startups I have previously worked with “liars”. 

Most definitely not. 

But, what I am saying is that businesses aren’t telling customers the truth. 

Not because they are liars, but rather because they don't know what the truth is. In other words, they don't know their customer promise. 

Businesses think that the truth is a claim or a theme or a slogan. But, in reality, it’s just a benefit, and more specifically, a promise that the customer will get said benefit after using the product. 

A bad copywriting habit that has become common practice in Silicon Valley is saying your startup is the "Tesla of underwear” or the "Apple of smart shoelaces” or the "chipotle of Vietnamese food.”

When I read promises like these, I am always left thinking –– what the hell does that even mean? 

Generally speaking, the reason brands do this is because like an angsty adolescent, they don’t yet know who they are. And, in turn, aren’t fully aware of the benefit they offer the customer. 

Let's pick apart the "Tesla of underwear” example I used earlier.

If the "Tesla of underwear" really knew who they were and what their customer promise was, instead of referring to themselves as the "Tesla of underwear", they would describe themselves with the following promise –– “we are fusing tech and style to create the comfiest pair of underwear you have ever slipped around your loins". 

The "Tesla of underwear" has now made a very distinct promise to the customer: if you buy our underwear, they will be the comfiest underwear you have ever worn.

Of all the companies I work with, mattress companies generally understand the customer promise the best. A mattress maker rarely, if ever, sells the mattress. No, they sell the benefit of a better night’s sleep.

It’s your job as a brand to discover what your night’s sleep is and sell the hell out of it to your customer. Find a promise (not a slogan) and build an empire. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Cole Schafer