Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Power of Small Statements

We put a lot of power into small statements.

They're an end result of work. Oftentimes this work is an overwhelming amount of time. So much so that it can't all be described. It has to be encapsulated in a bold "small statement."

Months of study. Hours upon hours of coding practice. Constant fiddling around. Neverending knowledge upkeep.
Result = "I know C++."

Reading dozens of books for tips. Thousands of hours writing. Page after page of edits. Research days to check all the facts. Constantly fighting down the urge to revise one more time.
Result = "I wrote a book."

Their power comes from the effect they have. People nod their heads. If it's an achievement, they express congratulations. We subconsciously acknowledge the gravity of what's been said.

Sound a little metaphysical? It's really not. It's all a part of language. A part of the words we use. There's a shared headspace where people get their understanding. We all recognize such statements as following great amounts of work. Once our brain catches it, we assign value to what we're being told.

The same principles apply to copy. Small statements can and should hold incredible meaning behind them.

Think of them as sticking a dam into your copy. Behind it roils a torrent of factoids, data, timeclocks, sweat and brain-drain. But all you see is the dam. The end result. Holding back the tide with a quiet, stately presence. Customers recognize the level of work that went into your statement on its placid face.

I'll give you some example copy. Which sounds more powerful?

1. XYZ worked for 5 years to collect the right people and do all necessary development. We conducted 43 tests so we could be absolutely sure there'd be no problems. After 13 years in business, we've reached the #1 mark in California and stayed up there since 2001. You're sure to be satisfied with XYZ Software's amazing products.


2. Get #1-ranked customer service with XYZ Software. Zero complaints, 5 years running.

Pow. No ambiguity. Statement #2 punches you right in the face. And you can tell what it took for XYZ to get there.

The value of "small statements" come from letting the customer put their own meaning into what you've said. In one sense, you're telling them about the product they're interested in. In another, you're letting them sell themselves by filling in the subtle gaps. If their desires match to what your statements speak for, you've got a hot lead.

Now, a little test for you. Every part of this article has a "small statement" in it. Can you figure out where each one connects in your head? When you do, write those statements down. You've just profiled some of your desires. Try the same process in your copy and see what happens.



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