Distinguished copywriters do not tell—they show.
Don’t tell me something like, “Johnny is sitting angrily beside the bus stop.” If Johnny is angry, he should show us his anger. Maybe he slams his fist into the bench. Or maybe he refuses a ride from a friend. Properly contextualized, either situation will allow the audience to feel Johnny’s emotion because they participate in it.
Genuine emotion should be presented indirectly. It should be dramatized. Rather than tell us what's going on in Jack’s mind or Jill’s heart, show us what the characters say, see, and do.
If you read a line like, “She shoots him an angry glance,” you ought to know that you’re being cheated. Glances can neither be shot nor angry.
Smart businesses—like smart copywriters—utilize a variety of mediums, modes of interaction, selling methods, images, and experiences to paint indirect stories about their brand.
Nordstrom, the famous department store brand, often hires pianists to play live music in their stores to indirectly signal to its visitors that this is a luxury shopping experience like no other. This allows them to charge a premium for its products because the in-store experience you get while shopping at Nordstrom is unique.
"I love shopping at Nordstrom and hearing the piano play while I shop. It's relaxing and peaceful. Nordstrom is really upscale, they are one of my favorite department stores." —miamibeach1791 via YouTube
Oakley geometric performance eyewear is in a class by itself. The company owns more unique patents to their lens technology than any other eyewear manufacturer. They embrace customization. And they support the athletes and the sports that are fiercely loyal to their brand.
Rather that talk about how good their products are, the athletes who wear Oakley sunglasses in racing events SHOW consumers the benefits of their product rather than simply TELLING.
"Great shades. I've got the path lens shape in grey/black and everyhting he says is true. I can't fault them at all!" —MrPlanetOcean via via YouTube
But of course, positive reviews/testimonials like this never hurt!
One wonders if the age-old motivators of money and power drive consumer behavior at all. Perhaps our desire to be unique, to be the best, to have purpose—is the real, hidden motivator. A brand encapsulates both the tangible and the intangible—so brands that are able to tap into the aspirations and aims of its target customers are more like to become popular (assuming they have quality products or services as well).
Indirect 'storyselling' can effect the way consumers perceive, interact, and transact with any given brand. Let's all try to do a little more showing and a little less telling. Deal?