So, I’m flying from Costa Rica to Ecuador this afternoon.
I like to leave these little announcements on the blog in the event of my sudden (and unreported) death, kidnapping, violent torture and just to give my ex-boyfriends a little extra something to be bitter about.
If I never post again, will someone at least throw a birthday party in my honor? It’s on the 24th. Just stay away from serving smoked salmon on those evil little crunchy tostadas. Those are just awful. AND they hurt my teeth. AND salmon is on Ashley’s barf-if-ingested list, right along with lobster (we’ve been over this), cow tongue, scrapple, things evilly covered in mushrooms, mushrooms themselves, stuffed mushrooms, magic mushrooms, or anything on the menu at fancy places with dishes I can’t pronounce (often with mushrooms)–JUST TO GET BACK AT THEM FOR THEIR PRETENTIOUSNESS. (As an expatriate constantly in foreign countries, you’d think I’d be used to not being able to pronounce menu items. I will not attempt to justify this blaring contradiction.)
For those of you thinking, “Holy smokes, is Ash going to attempt teach the copywriting workshop from a blazingly hot and hormone-drenched* hut in Ecuador???”–
…the answer is no. I will be in Chile by then. I can, however, find a hut if you think it adds appeal.
(Just so you know, I thought about making that whole last paragraph huge and centered, just to mess with you. And then I decided not to. I suspect a thank you is in order.)
I’m actually writing today not because I’m leaving for Ecuador (though I am, baby, with my dear friend Kyle Hepp, international wedding photographer extraordinaire, who Chris just featured in his $100 Start Up); rather, I’m writing because I saw something today while driving in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica, and I wanted to share it with you, because it will help you sell your services or ideas more effectively:
What the what, right?
That was my first reaction, too. The sign reads:
6,000 bottles were used to make this piece.
In Costa Rica, EVERY 15 MINUTES, a wave like this one ends up in rivers, beaches and oceans.
Recycling isn’t enough.
Choose returnable glass containers.
Impressively depressing, right? That said, I’m not telling you this to encourage you to use returnable glass containers. I’m telling you this because this sign can help you sell more.
This sign is an excellent example of a tactic that you’d use when you want your message to BE REMEMBERED and INSPIRE ACTION, and it has everything to do with taking an abstract concept that’s too far beyond our current comprehension to even imagine (let alone care about or feel compelled enough to take action) and turning it into something that instantly communicates the message in a way that’s tangible–with a little shock value for good measure.
They could have just said that X number of tons of glass is deposited into the earth’s rivers, beaches and oceans every single day, and rallied for your help. The problem with that? No one knows what the hell a ton looks like, or feels like, or is. We know it’s big, sure, but we don’t encounter real tons of anything in our every day lives, and therefore that lack of contact makes the term unrelatable. In turn, when we hear it? It doesn’t register. We can’t feel the word, so to speak–we have no emotional connection to it. And when that happens, words–and messages, mind you–fly right over our dense little heads.
On the other hand, the way they did do this was brilliant, and here’s why:
- Nothing’s left to the imagination, because there’s a physical (and attention-calling) representation right in front of you, helping both draw attention to the message, but also tangibly illustrate the point
- The physical representation aside, the more compelling component are the words–they broke down the facts and figures into bite-sized chunks that real human beings can understand (15 minutes, 6,000 beer bottles). (Since 6,000 is still a relatively large number, in this case the physical representation was a good supplement.)
- Since the facts are bite-sized and carry shock value when broken down into simple terms, the message becomes memorable
- The wave concept not only ties into their message of glass going into bodies of water, but also plays off of our emotions–big waves scare us (think tsunami), and because waves can be intimidating, using a wave in this context helps make us feel a sense of urgency.