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Have you seen the new Poland Spring packaging? They added a bright yellow box that said,
Skip the Sugar
A typical 12 oz soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar: Water has no sugar: Replacing one soda daily with one water can cut 3,650 tsp. of sugar a year from your diet. Be Healthy.
We know sugar is bad, but how much of it is bad? Will 3,650 tsp make me gain weight? Is it that unhealthy?
Poland Spring confused their customers. Instead of providing inspiration to drink more water, they created several unanswered questions.
In the remaining part of this article, I will show you how I would improve Poland Spring’s message. Please note, you can apply this to anything including: small business advertisements and blogging.
Poland Spring’s Problems
We all know that the key to persuasive communication is to stress benefits. Tangible benefits. Poland Spring didn’t do this. Additionally, here are some other problems with their message:
- “Healthy” is Intangible – I’m willing to bet that if you ask 10 different people to define “Healthy” you will have 10 different answers. How can we desire something that we can’t define?
- 3,650 is Insulting - Poland Spring told us that there are 10 teaspoons of sugar in a typical 12 oz soda. You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that 365 times 10 equals 3,650. Yet, they wasted a full sentence on doing the math for us.
- Water Has No Sugar - Really? Who would have thought…
- Why Save Sugar? - Is there a reason why we should cut 3,650 teaspoons of sugar from our diet? It sure sounds like a lot of sugar, but what does it mean?
In short, Poland Spring wasted a ton of words to communicate what we already know. They didn’t promise any tangible benefits or give us concrete reasons to drink water.
Poland Spring’s Solution
Anyone can point out something wrong with a marketing campaign, but not anyone can point out the wrong and make it right. So, here is how I think Poland Spring could improve their message:
Skip the Sugar
A typical 12 oz. soda contains 160 calories of sugar — water has no sugar. With around 3,500 calories per pound, replacing one soda daily with one water can cut 16 pounds from your diet in one year.
Isn’t my revision much better? Now lets take a look at how I did it.
While I switched the scope of the message from “healthy” to “lose weight,” it just sounds more appealing, but why? What makes my revisions much more “sticky” than Poland Spring’s original?
Let’s refer to Chip and Dan Heath’s communication handbook, Made to Stick.
There are six characteristics of ideas that stick and they are:
Poland Spring’s original message was simple. If you want to be healthy, you should drink water because it doesn’t have a lot of sugar like soda. However, it lacked every other characteristic on the Made to Stick scale. They talked about vague benefits, 3,650 tsps. of sugar, and insulted their customer’s math ability.
To fix this, I incorporated three “Made to Stick” characteristics into Poland Spring’s message.
- Unexepectedness - Not many people know that 3,500 calories equals one pound. It would be a surprise and it would teach people something new.
- Concreteness – While we know 3,650 tsp of sugar is a lot, we don’t know what it means. So I went with what people know and that’s calories and pounds. Over the course of 1 year, 160 calories per day on soda can add 16 pounds to your diet.
- Emotional – Who wants to gain 16 pounds in year? No one. So talking about 16 pounds appeals to someone’s desire to be fit and healthy.
What Else Works?
While this is a great case study, you are here to learn how you can improve your messages. So, in addition to the “Made to Stick” scale, here are two other traits of persuasive messages.
1. Action Oriented – While thought provoking can be entertaining, you need to include an action for your customers. You want to explicitly state what you want them to do and then convince them to do it.
2. Benefits and More Benefits – While reading I came across this great analogy: “People don’t buy grass seed, they buy a greener lawn.” In other words, customers don’t buy products, they buy benefits.
My Open Invitation
Do you want me to help you make your short message much more “sticky?” Either leave a comment or send me an e-mail. I will be glad to help.
Please note, I am in no way affiliated with Poland Spring or their marketing team. However, if anyone from Poland Spring comes across this article and wants to talk about it some more… send me an e-mail using my contact page.