Monday, April 30, 2007

Hypodermic model still sucks



Being always slightly behind the zeitgeist, I've only just gotten around to picking up Freakonomics.

So far there's one passage that delights me particularly. The authors give a list of ten words often used in real estate ads and ask the reader to pick which correlate with higher sale prices and which with lower:

Fantastic
Granite
Spacious
State-of-the-art
!
Corian
Charming
Maple
Great neighbourhood
Gourmet

Unsurprisingly, the list breaks down as follows:

Terms correlated to higher sale price
Granite
State-of-the-art
Corian
Maple
Gourmet


Terms correlated to a lower sale price
Fantastic
Spacious
!
Charming
Great neighbourhood

Admittedly, the authors have a much more sophisticated explanation, but what's important to me is that those terms that convey concrete information (granite, corian, maple) sell, while those that simply assert virtue (fantastic, charming, the dreaded screamer) either do nothing or actively work against the sale, because consumers assume that if you actually had something persuasive to say, you'd be saying it.

Copywriting may not be poetry, but its nice to see the two needn't be entirely antithetical.

2 comments:

writer said...

It's just that when selling a crap house, the copywriters turn to generalities because there's not a whole lot else to talk about.

Cleaver said...

Yeah, I figure that consumers realise that and apply it as a rule of thumb across all advertising: if you have something to say, they expect you to say it; if you use superlatives like "fantastic" and "amazing", they assume you don't have anything to say and switch off.