November 30, 2006

The Promotion of Selfishness

Madison Avenue has a new strategy for consumer advertising effectiveness... the promotion of selfishness. There are many examples on the airwaves, but the one that sticks in my craw, is a television commercial for Kohler where a husband and wife race each other home to see who can be the first one to use their high-tech Kohler shower. In winning the race, the husband not only gets to have the shower all to himself but also locks his wife out of the house, not only denying her access to the shower but also leaving her standing on the porch in her skivvies. Great marriage, right? I guess the intimacy of sharing a shower with one's spouse must have gone out this marriage a long time ago. What does this little excerise in selfishness have to do with white papers? Many authors take a similar route by writing their white papers in the first person. Authors that use first person take a self-centered approach to their writing by assuming that their reader will view the information as credibly as the author does. Instead of building credibility, a reader becomes completely turned off by it, resulting in an entirely opposite effect than originally intended. Statements such as "I believe that...", "Our company view is..", "In my opinion...", or "Our solutions have..." are clear examples of first person selfishness in a white paper. Unfortunately, the only one that notices is the customer. To ensure success, rather than posting that white paper to your website it can deposited instead to another highly popular Kohler bathroom fixture. How do you react when you read a first person white paper?

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