Hype has many guises or nuances. Unfortunately, today, hype has become an indiscriminate catch-all-phrase for any type of copy that anyone objects to, for whatever reason.
Well, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is hype.
And so, for ease of understanding and with a bow to those who either adore or loathe hype–I will divide hype into two broad categories:
Hype that always converts and hype that rarely will.
We’ve all been exposed to copy that exclaims in absolutely superlative fashion the benefits of an advertised product. For example, we’re constantly bombarded by hypey modifiers screaming: best, biggest, fastest, easiest, greatest, amazing, unique, revolutionary… and so forth.
And then there’s the army of entertaining and flamboyant similes and metaphors: “so powerful it’ll suck the chrome off a trailer hitch”, and “faster than a streaker running down-field at the Super Bowl”.
And, finally, the ever obligatory and tired: “your income will skyrocket” or “you’ll feel like a teenager again”.
Of course, these examples stand out as hype–primarily because they’re easily recognized as less than believable, factual or authoritative. And are, therefore, quickly discounted and ignored by most consumers.
But yet, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with employing such words and phrases to extol the virtues of a product… if indeed they’re accurate descriptions.
Where we run into problems though–and where hype gets a black eye, is when hype stands by itself–naked and exposed to ever-vigilant consumer skepticism.
How to turn bad hype into good hype
If you were to write within an ad, either in the headline, body copy or as a subhead, the following:
All your wrinkles will miraculously disappear overnight!
Do you think such a claim will be believed or, more importantly, that the ad containing it will convert?
Personally, I doubt it.
Even if the remainder of the ad were written impeccably–and by impeccably, I mean, you immediately provide undeniable, authoritative proof, confirming that wrinkles will indeed disappear overnight–that claim will still be the rusty nail that blows out the ad’s tires.
Of course it might gain your ad a moment’s fleeting attention–but the ad itself won’t convert, because the remainder of the ad, much less its call to action, probably won’t be read.
But now you protest and say: I provided proof! It’s true, absolutely true–so why wouldn’t it be believed?
Why wouldn’t it convert?
Well, proof and credibility are of course essential to any claim in any ad–without it you clearly have written hype of the bad kind.
But even with proof–if the proof is not “placed” wisely–it’ll be ignored… along with the ad itself.
“The consumer is not an idiot–she’s your wife.” ~ David Ogilvy.
Consumers learn quickly–they have to. By one account, the average American is deluged with over 5,000 advertisements in one form or another every single day.
And, it’s probably fair to say, most of these ads are poorly presented, either in concept, design or execution.
Hence, the unavoidable consequence: skepticism and disbelief abounds in the marketplace.
So… while in the past, making a claim and immediately following it up with proof may have been a wise, prudent and necessary tack to take–times have now changed.
And marketers must adapt.
No longer do you, as a marketer, have the luxury, or more to the point–the time to prove your claim–once you make it. So what’s the answer?
Avoid the ad-killing claim
You avoid the ad-killing claim by making it instead an unavoidable conclusion.
While the following is not an inviolate rule–it’s certainly worth testing…
Before making any concise and memorable claim to unparalleled excellence—prove it first.
Assemble and present your credentialing elements, your evidence–your entire body of incontrovertible proof–in clear and linear fashion.
Allow your proof to lay the groundwork for what is to come. Create strong and overwhelming direction and momentum.
In other words…
Turn hype into an undisputed conclusion
So when you finally do present your hype–your claim to have the biggest, baddest, best product on the planet–it won’t be mistaken for or accused of being hype (of the bad kind)…
…But rather it will be seen as a descriptive and accurate statement of the obvious and the proven (hype of the good kind). If executed skillfully, your hype will also have the added benefit of becoming sustainable and actionable.
And that’s the best hype of all–when your customer agrees with, acts upon, and even advocates on behalf of–what otherwise would have been a wild and unbelievable claim.