Pay Off the Problem Opening to Powerfully Position Your Product
Use the 'Wizard of Oz technique' to really take things to the next level
These last few weeks, I’ve been elaborating on my basic formula for scripts that sell. Step three of the formula is to explain how your product solves the problem you articulated at the beginning of your advertisement. I call this “paying off” the problem, and it’s another thing I make sure I do in every script I write.
You’d be surprised how often advertisers miss this opportunity to powerfully position their products.
They start with a compelling dramatization of a real problem. ✅
They present their product as the solution, answering my three key questions. ✅
But then they fail to reprise the negative opening in a positive form. 🤷🏻
One of my favorite ways to nail the payoff in video advertising is something I call the “Wizard of Oz technique.” I recently described it in my podcast interview with Amazon guru Carlos Alvarez. Here’s the transcription of that excerpt:
In the infomercial world, we go to great lengths to make every problem seem as painful as possible. This is that [scene]. It used to be black-and-white, now we do it desaturated. It’s sort of like The Wizard of Oz. You know [how] The Wizard of Oz is black-and-white in the real world, and then she goes to Oz and everything becomes color? We used to use that technique, and to some extent we still do, to portray a problem.
This is the poor housewife. She’s sweating and blowing her hair out of her face and struggling to do…whatever. Scrub a pot or clean something or whatever it is that we’re going to solve. And then, Wizard of Oz, everything turns to Technicolor and your hero product is presented as the solution.
(By the way, you can listen to the whole interview by clicking below.)
To see a real-world example of the technique, check out this commercial from our new Ultimate Irish YouTube channel. Take note of the desaturation of the problem scenes followed by the payoff of each problem in the solution scenes.
Now let’s look at some other recent commercials and see if my peers are also powerfully positioning their products with a problem-opening payoff. (Try saying that five times fast!)
This time around, I analyzed one hit commercial from the DRMetrix (Week 37) report and then performed a similar analysis on a new commercial that most of you haven’t seen yet. (See ‘Recent Tests’ for that critique.)
By the way, I’ve been getting lots of praise for these analyses. Thank you! Just the other day, a premium subscriber even told me that a critique of his commercial had inspired several new ideas for improving his results.
Wait, what?! Potentially game-changing critiques for just $5 per month? That’s right. Don’t miss out!