As the landscape of social media constantly changes, it’s a good idea to have some core values in place that have stood the test of time.
In the 1880’s, John E. Powers had this way of writing ads and copy that was shocking and unique for his time. When other advertisers attempted to hide faults or scams through elaborate wordplay, Powers was so blunt and honest that he actually sold product.
Take this ad for neck ties at Wanamaker’s Department Store in Philadelphia:
“They’re not as good as they look, but they’re good enough — 25 cents.”
Another ad for the department store read:
"The price is monstrous, but that’s none of our business."
In both cases, sales surged and entire stocks of ties and gossamers were sold out by noon.
Powers had three simple rules that guided him in his copywriting. Despite the decades between his time and ours, they still hold true. Digital marketing and social media may look completely different than the ads our parents or grandparents grew up with (or even the marketing we grew up with). The fact remains, people are still people.
Powers’ three rules were:
Tell the truth
If the truth can’t be told, change it so that it can.
Those concepts used back in the 1880's still apply to today. You still have to be honest. You still have to be interesting.
If the truth is untellable, change yourself. Change your business so that you can tell the truth. Change how you communicate about yourself so that you are interesting.
If you have nothing interesting to say because your industry is dry, come up with a way to make it interesting.
Tell the story just a little bit different.
Look at what you do from a different angle.
Reverse engineer your story from the big picture your product or service is apart of.
And then own it.
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