A couple of weeks ago, an old TV clip resurfaced – and went viral.
It was just a few minutes from the original, British series of House of Cards from 1993.
The scenario: A gas explosion on the fourth floor of a run-down building block in London causes a massive fire, which kills 72. The reaction of the prime minister, Francis Urquhart, seems cold and unfeeling compared to the reaction of the king, and government policy is blamed for the disaster.
The similiarity to the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower was uncanny.
Here, too, a faulty fridge on the fourth floor of a run-down building block in London caused a massive fire, which killed dozens of people.
Here, too, the Prime Minister was – fairly or unfairly – perceived as reacting in a cold way, particularly when contrasted with HM the Queen. And here, too, government policy was blamed.
You can watch the clip here:
All over the Internet, viewers marvelled at the “breathtaking coincidences”, “eerie accuracy” and “amazing parallels”.
And indeed, the drama could practically have been a current news report.
So how did House of Cards do it?
Well, they weren’t prophets – as some have claimed. And I think it’s too easy to put their prescience down to dumb luck.
Here’s what I think the real answer is.
Michael Dobbs, who wrote the original books, understood the political scene inside out. He was an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, government special advisor and Conservative Party chief of staff.
When you know your subject matter and your industry that intimately, it’s easier to imagine scenarios that strike so true, they actually happen one day…. To create scenarios so realistic that truth and fiction are indistinguishable.
That’s exactly what we should aim for when we market out companies online, as well.
To really be effective, the copy you write has to resonate completely with your target market.
Every word you write about why they need your product or service, what it’s like to work without it, and how their lives will be different after they hire you has to strike true with your audience.
They need to feel that you understand exactly what their problems are, and that you know them so well that you are not just writing marketing waffle – but talking personally and directly to them….
….That the scenarios you’re describing might as well be true – even if they’re not.
This is easier said than done. You may think you know your target market, but don’t actually know it as well as you think.
Or your marketing copy may simply not reflect the deep knowledge you have of your audience – so it doesn’t feel as real and as immediate to them as it might.
So take a look over your latest marketing copy.
Does it meet the House of Cards standard?
(And no, the correct answer is not, ‘You might think that, I couldn’t possible comment’ – for those who remember the original series!)
If the answer is ‘No’, then you’ll need to develop an (even) deeper understanding of what matters to your leads, and start writing copy that really hits home for them.
And if that’s something you’re not sure how to do alone, contact us and let’s talk. We’d be delighted to help your company build much stronger relationships with your target market online.