“Diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill.” – Nicky Oppenheimer, Born Jun. 8, 1945.
The former chairman of DeBeers says diamonds are worthless. Yet go to a jeweler and see what this worthless item sells for. Certainly not at a price that reflects the worth.
Why the markup? Solely due to the intense psychological need it fulfills.
To be wanted? To be committed to? Forever?
Whatever psychological need a diamond fills – the REASON it fills that need, is because of storytelling.
The concept that a ring is a symbol of love? That's a story. At some point the past, someone was the first person to do the ring thing, and people just imitated the shit out of it.
Then at some point, DeBeers had the bright idea to popularize the DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT ring. Via advertising.
A diamond is forever. Two months salary. Permanence = Commitment. It's a metaphor. But a powerful one that creates a value of thousands of dollars that is entirely based on perception.
Diamonds aren't even that rare. Diamonds are the second most commonly owned household item, behind TVs, but before children. And there are vaults full of them, being kept off the market to create a perceived rarity and scarcity.
Now, how do YOU transform the thing you sell from a worthless chunk of carbon into a sparkling goddamn diamond?
First, take the problem your product solves, and ask yourself WHY a person wants to solve that problem. Keep asking why, again and again to each subsequent answer you get. When you hit bedrock is when you know you've hit on the deep, psychological need.
So then back it up and figure out how you can show your product operating in such a way as to fulfill that need. It's that simple.
This is how you get car advertisements built around child safety in crashes. This is how you get cell phone service ads based around love for distant family. This is how you get practically everything being advertised with sex.
Sex is a deep psychological need, therefore sex sells.
But so does angst. Ecstasy. Agony. Justice. Acknowledgment. Schadenfreude. Etc.
What is the need you fulfill? And how deep does it go?
<!—- lagniappe It’s sort of hinted at above, but let’s dive a little deeper into one of the most powerful persuasive tactics possible. There are whole hierarchies of needs that humans have. Look up Abraham Maslow if you want to read more about that but for us. There is really only one core need we need to focus on as advertising writers. That is the human need for acknowledgment. Recognition. Confirmation. Validation. Etc. Various names that all circle around the simple concept that human beings want to be recognized by other human beings for existing. Which is why it’s so important that you write as though you are speaking to a specific person. And we speak to that desire - connect our offers to it. When they buy, how will they be seen? How will it change compared to now? Who will notice? What will they notice about our prospect when they become a buyer? How does the thing we are selling fulfill this desire mechanically? Connect the steps. Lay them in line like dominos that easily tumble in their minds’ eye. Try this next time you wrote an offer. Make the offer not just for your products or services, but offer recognition from others that the buyer has become something more, worth recognizing and acknowledging. Let me know how that goes. —->