Marketing, truth and lies

Here’s a thought.

Tony Blair basically walked all over the Chilcott Enquiry. One reason he did so is because he’s so damn persuasive. He’s so persuasive for a good reason: he’s sincere.

Tony Blair has this gift of believing he’s telling the truth, even when he’s not. OK, he won’t tell an outright lie and believe it. But he’ll twist things and create a version which suits him and he’ll be convinced by it. He believes he’s right.

Sincerity shines through. It’s quite hard to disbelieve someone who’s shiningly sincere. That’s got to be one reason why he’s been very effective at face to face negotiations.

Another reason is that, like Bill Clinton, he can apparently make people he’s talking to feel like they’re the only ones that matter. He focuses right on them and makes them feel special and privileged and important. (I think probably Bill Clinton is the true master at this, from what I’ve read; sounds as though he’s got charisma in spades and lights up a room when he walks into it.)

I think those gifts that Tony possesses make him a model for marketing people. If you truly believe what you’re saying, you’ll be way more convincing. If you’re cynical and detached, it’ll seep through.

And then if you can make the people you’re talking to really feel that you’re focusing on them, you’ll be far more effective. Carefully targeted customer emails, talking to people in a way that recognises their situation, their interests, their experiences, will connect.

And I have to say, one of the traits of the best creatives I’ve worked with is that they get enthusiastic about a new project or a new client. They get under the skin of the thing and get a bit of a crush on it. I find that too – I feel a sort of loyalty for a product I’ve done some copywriting for. I like getting the hang of a new area of business and I’ve found myself getting enthusiastic about something as unsexy as clever ways for businesses to save money on calls to mobiles. But especially pies. When I’ve been a writer writing for a client who makes pies, I’ve been as sincere as Tony Blair. More so.

One other thing. The importance of truth. If you can say something true about a product then you’re onto a winner. That’s the best kind of copywriting. More on that another time.

Marketing and advertising succeed best when they’re both true and sincerely meant – and when they make the person they’re addressing feel recognised.

What Blair says is certainly sincerely meant. Whether it’s true or not is another matter.

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