Why your products should be like ladders

Sometimes copywriters wonder how much they have contributed to the more negative aspects of internet marketing.

I’ve pondered that too from time to time and, specifically, I’ve wondered at times if I’m merely selling feelings instead of products.

There’s that great line from Don Draper (head of the creative department in a 1960s ad agency) in Mad Men where he says, “I sell products, not advertising.”

He wasn’t interested in just selling clients on slick marketing campaigns… he wanted to actually sell their products.

But like Don also says to one of his copywriters, “You are the product. You are feeling something. That’s what sells.”

So there’s no avoiding feelings in copy. The key is to avoid contributing to the never-ending festival of hype that only helps create Ralph Wolves instead of Sam Sheepdogs.

Also, I’ve taken encouragement from what Brian Eno said last year in an interview about how he works with U2 in the studio:

They feed on their own excitement… the point is to keep offering ladders that people can climb up to another place and then you can throw the ladder away afterwards, it doesn’t matter.”

So even if your product isn’t the greatest or most unique product out there, as long as it’s a ladder, then it’s OK, because ultimately it’s not your product itself that makes the difference but how it motivates customers to use their own strength to climb up to another place.

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  • Luke

    The ladder is an important symbol for me in my marketing, particularly email marketing.

    Determining rungs on a ladder is the responsibility I have to subscribers.