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Does copy matter?

I sometimes go shopping in Chinatown, where stuff is cheap and marketing copy is considered an frivolous luxury. To see what I mean, read this packaging for an ice cream scoop I bought recently:

Icecrem Scope

“Up to snuff of export?” Nothing on this package influenced my decision to buy. Two other factors convinced me: 1. The price was low. 2. The scoop is heavy, which made me think it will last a while.

This buying experience made me wonder: Does copy matter?

I once had a job at a company that sold housewares products. Our manufacturers in China would send us fact sheets about the products. Part of my job was to take those fact sheets—which were usually in mangled English—and turn them into appealing descriptions of the products that would appear on packaging and in-store signage.

The thing was, these Chinese factories didn’t just make stuff for us. They also made products for our competitors, as well as unbranded products for discount stores. But we could sell products at a significant markup because of how we positioned it to customers. We attached it to a major brand with a popular story. The copy—as part of a sophisticated branding operation—made items more valuable.

Copy does matter. Copy is why most people would pay more for an “ice cream scoop” than an “icecrem scope,” even if it’s the same product. Copy can create a positive emotional connection where there’s no logical reason for one to exist.

Copy is sometimes the only difference between a cheap product and an expensive one. That’s why we copywriters have jobs.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Language, Marketing

3 comments

  1. Mark says:

    I know, I know whachu mean… I do the same critiques myself… but then WHOOPS >> there’s YOUR comment, “Our manufactures in China…”

    Don’t you just hate when that happens? :-) love ya, bro’

  2. Daryl Lang says:

    Good catch! Typos on a copywriting blog… inevitable, and always embarrassing.

  3. Deb says:

    I’m far more concerned about who the manufacturer thinks is heating the ice cream scoop. I’ve run a scoop under warm water to help dig out the ice cream, but never to such extreme temperatures that it could present a safety hazard!

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