You’ve heard the old sayings: “The cream of the crop“, or “The cream rises to the top“. Well, I’m here to tell you that both the cream rises to the top and that the crap does too!
Henry Louis Mencken (1880 – 1956) is often quoted as saying: “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” However, his actual quote was: “No one in this world, so far as I know, and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”
He also said: “It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.” He was a pretty smart guy!
Dumb, Dumb, and Dumber!
You read and hear a lot (it depends on what you read and listen to) about the dumbing down of America. It’s true. For all our advances and progress, we’re drowning in not-so-smart people. Some people say this is an intentional process created by our own government to make us easier to govern. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but just taking a trip to the mall is enough to rattle any faith that we’ll still be around in 100 years. Just sit and watch people at any public place and it won’t take long to really question if, taken as a whole, we’re any smarter than the apes.
The Rich Get Richer, the Smart Get Smarter, and the Not-So-Smart Breed Like Crazy!
…And the poor get poorer and the dumb get… well, dumber. It’s sad, but it appears to be true. It looks like, and I’ll admit that I’m not quoting any scientific studies, just my own observations, that the more progress we make and the more we learn, the more intellectual distance we put between those with education and knowledge and those that just don’t give a rat’s rear-end about anything. Again, sad but seemingly true. I think it’s historically accurate to say that the population of less affluent, less educated people tends to propagate and expand faster than the wealthier and more educated. Social proof is big on the Internet these days, put it in action offline and just look around and you’ll see what I mean.
Put Your Thumb in the Dyke.
Don’t even try; the pressure will blow it off your hand! I don’t know what the answers to these observations are, but don’t try to fix it alone, it’ll kill you.
That’s the Law Son!
So what does that have to do with marketing? Simple. If you’re writing copy, or even if you don’t consider yourself a copywriter and you’re just making a simple web site to sell whatever it is you want to sell, you’re automatically in the upper groups I refer to. Why? Because you’re trying to improve your position in life and better yourself. That puts you into a different segment of the population than most people. You therefore think a little differently than most people, perhaps the people you’re trying to sell something to. Talk to them on your level, or, even on a semi-formal level and you’ve lost them from the first sentence. You have to make your message match the natural language and thoughts of your target.
So, here it is:
For example: If you’re selling a new sport shoe, you could make an ad stating all the technical specifications, all the research and development that went into creating a new inner and outer sole material that gives 80% better energy recovery, and how it also deflects angular momentum into vertical energy with 75% efficiency, blah, blah, blah. Now people like me want to know all that, but I don’t buy that many sport shoes. You’re much more likely to sell more shoes with a simple ad showing a sports star using the shoes and a strong but simple headline.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have the details available for those that want to know, but generally speaking: most people simply don’t care.
So there you have it. I know, it’s sad, but it’s true. Even those long, well thought-out sales letters that people create, and charge their clients thousands of dollars to create, are simple. They’re not scientific papers. Even when writing copy for a health supplement, the benefits of the product are spelled out in simple to understand terms that the average guy on the street will relate to, not the language off the label on the back of the bottle.
You might feel smart writing a really intelligent sounding sales letter, but wouldn’t you feel smarter putting bushels of cash in your bank account? I thought so!
Until Next Time,
P.S. This whole post was written as a reminder to me, so that I can read it over and over. This is my biggest problem when trying to sell something!