Friday, October 20, 2006

Thoughts on Announcing a Big Event

I recently received an invitation to a friend's wedding. I have to admit to doing a double-take, however, as I scanned over the announcement. She was married once before but is now clearly, unequivocably -- and not entirely amicably -- divorced. Yet the announcement called her by her married name.

It took me a bit before I understood her logic: Her children still retain their father's name. And her friends who met her as an adult may only know her by her former name.

Still, seeing her first husband's last name there on her wedding invitation just struck me as odd and made me go "Hmmm?"

Announcing any Big Event -- be it wedding, graduation, new family addition, product launch, or new business venture -- is difficult. Oh, sure, it seems simple in concept. (Come to my wedding!) But it can be vastly complicated in execution. (Is it "Ms.," "Mrs.," or "Miss?" Do I use my maiden name, my former married name, or a combination of the two? Did we even tell Great Aunt Gladys about the divorce...?)

Lately, I've been spending my days thinking about what goes into announcing a Big Event (B.E.). The Special Bonus Event for Geoff Teall's book is only 4 days away. Much has gone into not only getting things prepared, but also announcing their existence. Every bonus needed announcement text. The book needed its own copy. In addition to all the specifics, the Event in general needed words tailored just for it.

In any announcement, every word counts. Though it's unreasonable to expect people to read everything that is written, you must be ready to stand behind what the text says about you and the B.E. Typos are anathema. Grammatical mistakes are only slightly less verboten. But there comes a time in writing the text for nearly every Event when the inevitable Maiden / Married Name dilemma arises.

My favorite general rule of thumb for writing Big Event marketing announcements is:

Draw In, Don't Bump Out

Anything that pulls readers into the text, gets them excited about participating in the Event, and makes them happy to tell their friends about it is good.

That's why phrases like "discover the secret," "don't miss out," and "guaranteed results" are so common. They work. They're especially effective when they're true.

It's also why you see things like "Here's why God Himself loves this product..." It applies the concept of Social Proof to the B.E. In essence, endorsements say that it's OK to join the crowd and take part in the B.E.

Pull the reader in, make promises you can keep, and let people know that they are not alone. That's a recipe for a great announcement.

But don't go so far as to make unsubstantiated, faulty, or empty claims. And don't threaten the reader. That just bumps the reader out of the nice, comfy chute of acquiesence your announcement is working so hard to create.

A very well known author, marketer, and educator actually used the following headline in a major promotion:


A few sentences later, he followed up with:

", instead of making mistake after mistake until you die, buy my product, and you'll be set for life."

Maybe it works for him, but for me it's a total bump out!

It all comes down to this: when announcing a Big Marketing Event, choose your words carefully. They will set the stage and, with any luck, will connect with your audience. Give your readers a reason to keep reading, rather than an excuse to go "huh?" and wonder how much Great Aunt Gladys knows.