The great Claude Hopkins (Author of Scientific Advertising) once said, “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. They leave no impression whatever.”
To say, “Best in the world,” “Lowest price in existence,” etc. are at best simply claiming the expected. But superlatives of that sort are usually damaging. They suggest looseness of expression, a tendency to exaggerate, a careless truth. They lead readers to discount all the statements that you make.
— A Dog & Pony Show
It’s true that people accept a certain license in ‘sales talk.’ A person may say, “Highest quality” without seeming a liar, although you realize other brands are just as good. We expect a sales person to ‘sell’ and we excuse some enthusiastic exaggeration. It’s for that reason general statements count for very little. And a person inclined to grand statements and superlatives must expect their claims to meet a healthy dose of scepticism.
However, someone making a specific claim is either telling the truth or lying. We know advertisers cannot lie in the best mediums, so a definite statement is usually accepted. Actual figures are not generally discounted. Specific facts, when stated, have their full weight and effect.
— Just The Facts Ma’am
This is very important to consider in written or personal salesmanship. The weight of an argument may often be multiplied by making it specific. Say that one brand of light bulb gives more light than another and you leave some doubt. Say it gives 354% more light and people realize that you have made tests and comparisons.
A dealer may say, “Our prices have been reduced” without creating any marked impression. But when he says, “Our prices have been reduced 27 per cent” they get the full value of their announcement.
— The Pre-emptive Advantage & Specificity
In the old days all beers were advertised as “Pure.” The claim made no impression. The bigger the type used, the bigger the folly. After millions had been spent to impress a platitude, one brewer pictured a plate glass where beer was cooled in filtered air. They pictured a filter of white wood pulp through which every drop was cleared. They told how bottles were washed four times by machinery. They he went down 4,000 feet for pure water. How 1,018 experiments had been made to attain a yeast to give beer that matchless flavour. And how all the yeast was forever made from that adopted mother cell.
Now don’t misunderstand – any brewer might have easily made these claims. They were mere essentials in ordinary brewing. But this one company was the first to tell everyone about them, while the others simply kept repeating the worn out statement “pure beer.” This one brewer made the greatest success that was ever made in beer advertising.
— The Art of Leverage
Remember, one advertising statement may take as much room as another, yet a definite statement is many times more effective. The difference is vast. If a claim is worth making, make it in the most impressive way you possibly can.
All these effects must be studied. ‘Salesmanship-in-print’ can be very expensive. A salesperson’s loose talk matters little when it’s simply one-on-one. However, when you are ‘talking’ to many at great cost, the weight of your advertising claims is important.
Remember, no generality has any weight whatever. It’s like saying, “How do you do?”, when you have no intention of inquiring about one’s health. And specific claims when made in print are taken at their value.
So the next time you are dreaming up adverts and offers for your business – BE SPECIFIC!