The Most Beautiful Boat in Town

Original Illustration by Tony D. Clark

A young fool had spent seven years building a beautiful small boat by hand.

An entire year was taken sketching out the design, throwing away hundreds of ideas until he hit upon the flawless one.

He’d traveled hundreds of miles to find and fell the perfect cedar tree. He milled the strips himself. He’d planed and sanded for months.

Neighbors started coming to his home and sitting for hours, watching him labor. They were all amazed by his skill, focus, and passion.

Local blogs picked up the story and ran profiles about the young fool, and his ambitious project.

Even more people from the small town came, sitting on his grass, passing the time talking and eating as the fool came closer and closer to completing work on his now-famous boat. In the seventh year, the crowds swelled around his home, spilling out onto the street.

“Do you think she’ll float?” an old man asked, pushing his way to the door of the woodshop.

“Damn right she will,” the fool said, “She’s the most well-built and elegant dinghy ever made.”

Thinking that his childhood dream of becoming a professional boat builder was finally coming true, he carved a gorgeous wooden sign that read: “The Most Beautiful Small Boats Ever Made, Inquire Within.”

Though hundreds passed it every day, none seemed to care about the sign, or the fool’s offer as a shipwright-for-hire, but he didn’t let that grind him down. He continued on his chosen path.

Then the day came to bring the dinghy out of the shop and present her to the masses.

He threw the garage door open with a theatrical flourish. The crowd gasped. He slowly rolled it out onto his driveway, taking in every moment, every inch, every comment and exclamation.

When he reached the center of the driveway, the fool stopped and said, “I give to you, The Desert Soul!”

The crowd clapped and cheered, many came forward and congratulated the young fool on his accomplishment. Cameras snapped and children ran their hands along the sleek varnished lines of the boat.

And then, just as quickly as the praise had risen, it faded. And the crowd began to dissipate. Within a few hours, everyone was gone and the young fool stood there on his driveway, alone with his stunning creation.

Not a single person had inquired about a custom boat. And, no one ever would.

As the sun set on the remote and waterless desert town, the young fool rolled his perfectly crafted watercraft back into his shop and shut the door.

Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already-existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copywriter’s task: not to create this mass desire — but to channel and direct it. ~ Eugene Schwartz

Original illustration by Tony D. Clark

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