Copywriting Tip: Is There a Story?

I recently drank a $12 bottle of water. It was pretty good.

Mahalo water

I learned of MaHaLo Hawaii Deep Sea Water in December during a tour of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA). MaHaLo uses one of NELHA’s pipes to draw the water out of the Pacific Ocean, and then runs it through a desalinization process.

Candee Ellsworth, the Executive Director of Friends of NELHA, told us that the water is marketed primarily in Japan, where it sells for 12 bucks a bottle.

What do you get for 12 bucks? From the MaHaLo website:

The Deep Sea Water used for MaHaLo bottled drinking water is very old.  It takes between 1,200 and 2,000 years for the water to travel from the North Atlantic Ocean through the freezing Arctic currents, under the vast glaciers of Greenland, where it gathers ancient minerals that leach down from the ice.

Then it flows around and back down toward the deep channels of the Pacific Ocean.  It is there, at the Water Rejuvenation Zone just off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, that the water is at its very purest.  This is why Koyo USA placed its processing and bottling plants on the Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawaii…

MaHaLo Hawaii Deep Sea® Water is drawn from 3,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.  At this depth the water is very cold, about 43° F (6°C), and is safe from surface pollutants caused by industry, farming, chemicals or human waste.

Ellsworth poured us some of this precious water, and it tasted like… water. Good water, and a huge step up from Kona tap water… but water. Although the company has gotten into some trouble for its manufacturing process, Ellsworth told us that Mahalo sells every bottle it can manufacture.

Why do people pay $12 a bottle when there is much cheaper bottled water available? Because a host who serves Mahalo water can tell a story.

For similar reasons,

  •  a collector in Greece paid $23,000 for a saltine cracker. It wasn’t just any saltine cracker — it came from the Titanic.
  • some people will pay $66 for a 35-gram package of coffee made from elephant poop. When it comes from an elephant’s butt, it ain’t just coffee.
  • I once ordered, and consumed, a plate of “Sauteed Ox Pennis” from a restaurant in Vietnam. It was spelled that way on the menu.

Copywriting Tip: Look For the Story

advertising copy should use stories

Seth Godin put it this way:

The story we tell ourselves is actually what is being sold. The challenge is not how to be successful, but how do we figure out how to matter. And the way we matter is by connecting people with a story. A story that resonates, a story they care about and a story they’ll tell other people.

When you are looking for a way to set a client apart from the competition, look for a story.

  • How was the business founded?
  • How is the product made?
  • Is there anything compellingly different that can capture the audience’s imagination?

A few years ago I met with the owner of a restaurant in Nevada. The food was good, and the family that ran the restaurant was very nice. I was struggling to find a hook until I asked the owner what dish meant the most to him. It was the quiche.

Why the quiche?

Because the family that owned the restaurant had a farm. With chickens. And every egg that went into the restaurant’s quiche came from the family chickens.

Sometimes the commercials write themselves. It did not take me long to write this one after I got back to the hotel. The ad ran for almost two years.

Consumers will go out of their way, and pay more, if they hear the right story.

Does your client have a story to tell?

Coming very soon: a new networking site for television/digital sales professionals. Be looking for information about TV Sales Cafe™ later this month!


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