Like all three-year-olds, mine wants to do everything “by hisself.” Among other things, this means getting ready for bedtime.
Alex mastered taking his clothes off a long time ago and has just recently managed to pull on his top and bottoms (provided there are no snaps, zippers or buttons to contend with). But the night diaper that needs to be connected by delicately separating the pull-tabs from the backside and affixing them to the front side? Forget it. No way. It’s a degree of difficulty far too great for his fat little fingers.
Recently, I figured that perhaps it was time for pull-ups. For non-parents out there: These are diapers that function more like underwear. The child just steps into them and pulls them up. The downside is they’re not as absorbent as regular diapers; unless your child is pretty dry in the morning, you’re going to be washing a lot of sheets.
So there I was in the baby aisle of CVS, the target customer Huggies, Pampers and every other diaper company dreams of: a mom not loyal to a particular brand of pull-ups and ready to be sold to.
As a copywriter, I’m always aware of those moments when I turn into a Consumer with a capital “C.” So what did I do with all my insider knowledge of how the industry toys with our psyche? I promptly forgot everything I knew and let myself get suckered into buying the expensive diapers. It was two words that did me in.
Yes, Huggies had pictures from the Cars movie, which Alex loves. But I’m not going to spend 25% more just so he can have a picture of Mater on his butt. Instead, I’m going to spend 25% more because the diapers have “Leak Guard”!
Now obviously, consumers fall into this trap all the time. It’s not some big surprise that a mom was won over by clever diaper packaging copy. But here’s the thing: I should know better. It’s literally my job to come up with terms like “Leak Guard” that companies can trademark as “evidence” that their offerings are different and better.
So what’s the takeaway here for our friends in marketing?
You may already be in the habit of focusing on benefits, not features — but can you own any of those benefits? For example, Huggies now owns “Leak Guard.” We all know that Leak Guard isn’t a real scientific term, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it has real meaning for anyone buying diapers. How?
The term perfectly conveys the benefits of adding that extra little bit of absorbent material in the front of the diaper: Namely, avoiding nightmarish scenarios (“Crap! He’s got to go to bed in 10 minutes, and I forgot to switch the clean sheets over to the dryer!”) and approaching bedtime with confidence (“I won’t get woken up in the middle of the night to change a crying, soggy toddler.”)
So when evaluating your marketing efforts, take a close look at the language you’re using. What can you “Leak Guard”? It’s worth thinking about … assuming you enjoy dominating your competition. If not, just keep on keeping on and forget I said anything.