I don’t typically include Craigslist to my list of tools to discuss in Written Communications, but I think it is worth discussing here. This week I found an interesting Craigslist ad that’s got me thinking about writing.
I once thought of business writing in terms of just paragraph construction and grammar. Sure, there is a creative writing part, but that’s more in word selection and placement. I’ve often termed business writing as cut n’ dry, even boring. As I’ve grown as a writer, I know that I was wrong. Actually, I think business writing is fun! I like analyzing the effect depending on where I put words or sentences in a piece of writing.
Lately, I have been thinking even more about how I can weave marketing and business communication. I’m not a marketing teacher, so I’m thinking more about how unique product placement and design might be used to achieve a goal. I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” It is a fantastic read about why certain products and messages can reach the masses with a fury.
How do some communications become viral and others sit stale?
Sure, the actual writing matters, but I think writers need to be thinking about how to craft their overall piece in a way that will not cause the message to sink to the bottom.
Here’s a great example of what I mean. Take a look at this Craigslist ad. The writing is adequate. Sure, there’s a fragment and I’d rather see the date written out, but if you’ve seen Craigslist ads, you know that this writing is fine. What I find interesting is note the images.
Look closely. What do you see?
The writer used the social media fad known as “photobombing” to rent his apartment. The subject of the photobomb happens to be a cute dog named Otis. The apartment was rented in 24 hours and Otis is now a rock star. The ad has since then gone viral. I emailed the owners and did get a response. They have been bombarded with questions. Within just days news spread of this adorable dog.
What sold the apartment? The nice cabinets and hardwood floors? Nope.
Here’s a nice article about Otis. His efforts even made the New York Daily News and now he’s a bit of an internet phenom. I bet he becomes a meme like Grumpy Cat by the end of the month. These two examples represent a strange happening in culture today. The plainest of individuals can rise to fame or even monetary success by a stroke of what seems to be luck. I really want to understand how that luck works. What is that formula? Gladwell’s book explains the tipping point very well. This all relates to business communication. After all, in our over-stimmed digitally wired society, what brings some communications to the top and others to be deleted or marked as spam?
All business writers should study how writing and design can attract customers and bring a message to the top of the digital tornado that crosses our computer screens. What people can transmit ideas in such a way that makes them tip?