Beginnings and Endings

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

Matthew wants a career writing miracle-producing ads, so he goes to college to refine his skills. Journalism instructors teach Matthew to present the facts in an objective manner: “The goal of the journalist is always to inform, never to persuade.” Creative writing instructors teach Matthew how to use words to thrill and entertain. Matt graduates with honors, and for the next thirty-seven years makes a good living by writing ads that inform and entertain the public. But rarely do Matt’s ads persuade. (No college in America offers a course called “Persuasive Writing.” Why is this?)

Unlike news stories and entertainment, ads don’t receive the committed attention of the public. Therefore, the ad writer must engage the imagination of an unwilling mind and transfers an entirely new perspective in less than sixty seconds.

Which writer conveys an entirely new perspective in a tight economy of words? Who always opens with a commanding First Mental Image and summarizes with stinging simplicity? Who can teach us to write ads that truly persuade?

While the journalist seeks to inform us and the creative writer entertains, it is The Poet who changes how we see the world. Using unpredictable words in unusual combinations, The Poet seizes the mind with an engaging First Mental Image, then leads us sharply down his path of words to a stunning, Last Mental Image and a whole new way of thinking.

Words are the most powerful force there has ever been. If you will illuminate the mind, win the heart, inspire the public and change the world, you must drink deeply from the well of Poetry. Only by gazing into those deep waters can you see the place where miracles begin.

Roy H. Williams

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Words at the beginning of a list are more easily recalled than words which are in the middle. This is known among psychologists as the Primacy Effect. Words at the end of a list are more easily recalled as well, due to a phenomenon known as the Recency Effect. Primacy and Recency make it essential that ads begin and end memorably. The worst possible way to begin an ad is with small talk, yet this is exactly how you and I begin nearly every conversation. Even more rarely will we conclude our talk with a poignant and stinging summary, yet this is exactly how we must end our ads if we want our information to be remembered.

“When his ad writer is a Poet,
the business owner will be a King.”

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