Little orange pills

Jul 19, 2022

Issue #159–July 19, 2022

In celebration of my milestone birthday just over a week ago (yes, the big 6-0, holy crap), I’m taking a trip down memory lane…

I’m sharing some of my earliest memories, and tying each one to a copywriting or marketing lesson you can apply right now.

Let’s start with “little orange pills”…

Anyone else old enough to remember those chewable orange-flavored baby aspirins your mom gave you when you were young?

Oooh, they tasted so good.

They tasted so good, when I was barely over a year old, I climbed up onto the bathroom counter via the toilet, opened up the medicine cabinet, and downed an entire bottle of them.

Back then, they came in an easy-to-open glass bottle. (Yes, you have people like me to thank for those “child-safe” medication lids that are impossible to open, even if you’re a grown-up).

Once I was done guzzling down those little orange pills, I carelessly dropped the glass bottle down to the floor, where it made a clinking sound.

A “clink” that my always-aware mom happened to hear from the living room in our single-story home. She rushed to the bathroom to find out what it was, and that’s when she found me.

She called an ambulance and hurried me off to the hospital where I had my stomach pumped, and here I am today.

I confess though, I still get an occasional urge for one of those little orange pills… especially if I happen to eat a piece of candy that brings back that flavor memory.

No worries, I won’t be tempted again. I was dang lucky… like a cat with nine lives, I’ve probably gone through at least half a dozen of them.

So what lesson am I going to possibly tie in with orange-flavored baby aspirin?

It has to do with structuring offers…

As a copywriter, you’re often in a position to influence the structure of the offer (or offers) for your sales promo or funnel.

Many times clients are looking to YOU to come up with the best offer to go along with your copy in order to maximize results… and, if you’re going up against an existing promo, beat their current control.

(This is one reason why copywriters also need to be good marketers, and understand the big picture of how their copy and promos fit in. In short, you need to be a good marketing strategist as well as a copywriter. I’ll be writing more about “the copywriter of the future” in some future issues.)

One thing I’ve seen… whether it’s for a health or financial newsletter, a course, an event, supplement, or other product mainly promoted to consumers… is that as marketers we get addicted to “little orange pills”.

We start with one or two bonuses or premiums in our offers and then start to think more is better. So let’s “beat” that newsletter control by offering 10 premiums instead of just 3… or let’s add 5 “irresistible” bonuses to our course offering (okay, I may be somewhat guilty of that myself at times)… etc etc etc.

But too many of these “little orange pills” can leave your offer comatose on the bathroom floor and actually lower response.

That’s because they can end up distracting away from the value of what you’re selling and–worse–create offer confusion at that crucial juncture when you need the prospect to hit that “order now” button and complete the transaction.

It’s one reason why I’ve seen supplement clients stop offering any premiums with their control offer. They, of course, tested out of those offers–which is what you should do as well… never just change anything in your current control offer without doing a head-to-head test on that one single variable first.

You also risk distracting from the value of your primary product or service that you’ve worked so hard in your copy to build up and create emotional and rational arguments for why it’s the best solution and, in many cases, all they need.

So as good as these “little orange pills” may taste, use them with caution. Don’t get carried away.

Avoid Mae West’s advice: “If a little is great, and a lot is better, then way too much is just about right!” It can definitely lead you astray when it comes to constructing your offers… and when consuming orange-flavored baby aspirin.

Speaking of which, I came across this “vintage” print ad for the baby aspirin that almost took my life decades ago…

They’re using “best-tasting children’s aspirin” as their positioning angle in the main headline. Luckily, at this point they were now using a safety cap, though it’s possible the bottle I took had one and I just managed to pull it off since I was so determined to get that “candy”.

The copy plays up the flavor and how it dissolves quickly… which is “why your children will take it so willingly”. Well, be careful what you ask for (-;

But see how it moves quickly from the main feature (orange flavor) and benefit (take it willingly) to a mechanism (dissolves quickly) which enhances or amplifies that benefit further.

It boosts credibility and social proof with the subhead “Recommended 4 to 1 by children’s doctors….” It then uses specificity to build belief in the quality of the aspirin (224 product-control checks).

Finally, it backs everything up with a “good taste” guarantee (I added the ‘good taste” in front… heck, they could have used me as a testimonial!)

That’s all I’ve got today. I’ve already voted in the Maryland primary election, hit the gym, and got my grocery shopping done for the week, and now this… so it’s been a productive morning!

In the meantime, I invite you to get busy filling out this VERY brief survey, if you haven’t done so yet. Please elaborate as much as you like about whatever it is you’re struggling with most right now and I can cover it in a future issue. Or share whatever else is on your mind!

Yours for smarter marketing,