It’s one of the most famous – and most successful – headlines ever written:
“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”
Written by the great agency head/copywriter David Ogilvy, it’s almost 60 years old now, but there’s still an essential lesson in there for marketers and copywriters.
It’s about how simple, distinctive details can put your reader right there with the product you’re selling…
Because it’s small moments like these that leap off the page and connect us emotionally to what we read.
See, when you experience an emotional response – from a story, a song, a movie…
…or yep, even from sales copy…
It’s usually one or two specific details that stimulate that feeling, rather than the overall message.
And in that classic Rolls ad (pictured below), the details act like ‘snapshots’ that bring the experience of the product – a fancy-ass ride – to life.
There’s a sense of movement (“At 60 miles an hour”)…
There’s a sense of sound (“The loudest noise… comes from the electric clock”)…
There’s a visual picture of the whole experience that seems to put YOU in the driving seat.
The headline is designed to conjure up a more exclusive, self-contained, classy driving experience…
Which was exactly what Rolls drivers wanted (and still do).
And it showed when sales shot up by 50% that year.
Consider also that, pre-Ogilvy, the headline used to sell a Rolls in 1957 was:
…wait for it…
“The best car in the world”.
…I mean, yikes.
Imagine trying to sell any product with “The best X in the world” these days.
You’d be laughed out of Ad-town…
There’s simply nothing unique or even interesting about that statement… there’s no evidence to back it up, there’s nothing about THEM (the customer) since it’s all about YOU (the company)…
This kind of empty bluster may get you elected president in our “post-factual” world (politics?!? He’s doing politics now? Nurse, the screens!)…
…but it won’t work in an ad headline.
To improve on that non-message, Ogilvy scoured research and technical reports before selecting his ‘snapshot’ from a motor mag write-up and turning it into a headline that helped boost RR sales by 50% in its first year running.
Some snapshots are created in a flash of inspiration…
Others are simply swiped straight from the mouths of your customers and reviewers… and that’s ok.
Sometimes the best copy is already written for you, after all.
Either way, ‘Snapshot Copy’ can be hugely potent when it comes to dragging your reader by the lapels (even if they’re not wearing a shirt) and dropping them right into the action.
It’s the perfect way to have them experience what they’re reading more emotionally, so they’re more likely to respond to your offer.
Snapshot copy transforms flat, easily-ignored, ‘meh’ marketing into a vivid, sensory experience that connects with readers on a deeper level.
And if you need help finding or creating the ‘snapshots’ that sell more of your product, drop me a line and let’s see what we can uncover together.
Will it work in your market?
Well, consider this:
In 1958 a Rolls-Royce would set you back $13,550 – that’s around $118,000 in today’s moolah…
If snapshot copy can sell $118k products, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll engage your readers too.
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