Copy Sells

We know that making a connection with the consumer can increase conversions through price points, warranties and guarantees and promotional freebies, but have we overlooked a more powerful connection?

Joshua Glenn is writer, editor and brand analyst and Rob Walker is also a writer and contributor to the New York Times. These two creatives came up with an idea to test how the value of an object, or one might say “junk”, is perceived when it is sold with a story. A fictional short story.

They named the experiment The Significant Object Project (nicknamed the quasi-anthropological experiment). They invested about $130 to purchase items like the Flannel Ball at second-hand stores, rummaging through junk drawers, garages that store garbage bags of who-knows-what to sell in their online Ebay auction. They invited over 200 writers to tell a story about each tchotchke, written without truth, but with a charm that becomes the emotional connection between the audience and the object.

Many of the auctioned items were marked with a starting price well under a dollar. The original price of the Tiny Message in Bottle was 33 cents (some may think 33 cents more than it was worth). The final bid was 19 dollars! That’s an increase of 5,757%.

Some examples:

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Story of how a TINY MESSAGE IN BOTTLE engrossed triplets over living life. Original price: 33 cents. Final price: $19.00.
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Story of the COW CREAMER named Norman. Original price: $1. Final price: $26
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Story of a FLANNEL BALL that is weighted and weightless. Original price: $1.50. Final price: $51.00

This project by Glenn and Walker emphasizes that we can’t discount the importance of creative copy. It can add significant measurable value.