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“I Invented Air”: What’s In It for Your Audience

Greg Kirsch

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Remember the Kristin Wiig character “Penelope” on Saturday Night Live who always tried to top the other character? No matter what claim or recognition the other character achieved, Penelope would claim something grander … to the point of ridiculousness. She claimed she “invented air” in one episode.

What makes the skit funny is that we all know people like that — people who have to be the center of attention, who only talk about themselves.

As I perused the healthcare advertising database on the other day, it struck me how many industry ads do the same thing. Take a look at the following examples … followed by my reactions to the message:

Don’t talk about yourself — talk about me. Don’t tell me how engaging and innovative you are. Tell me that by using your service, for example, I’ll be 50% more effective.

Don’t tell me you are a diversified healthcare company. Tell me you will save me time (benefit) because I can get vaccines and devices from one source (feature).

Don’t just shout your product name from the headline and ask me to try to figure out what you have to do with the proverbial happy couple on a bike. Tell me I will satisfy my customers by using your product (benefit) because, unlike the competitors, yours leaves no sticky residue (feature).

Why I should care? What is in it for me? Tell me how your product benefits me.

Showing What’s in it for the audience can be done, even in pharma. The following ad communicates to healthcare professionals that by prescribing this product, their patients will survive longer and won’t miss important parts of their life.

It’s hard enough to communicate effectively in the highly regulated industry we occupy. Don’t make it harder by just talking about yourself. Tell your audience What’s in it for them.


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