June 4, 1940.
It was the most troubled time in our history.
Almost the entire British Army was enclosed by Nazi troops in Dunkirk, and a German invasion of Britain looked imminent.
Civilian morale was at rock bottom. Churchill had no support from his war cabinet to fight back—they all wanted to negotiate with Hitler.
So, Churchill was tasked with telling the public the truth about the military disaster at Dunkirk. He knew he had to warn them of a possible German invasion attempt—without casting doubt on eventual victory.
Here is a segment of his famous speech to the House of Commons:
“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall NEVER SURRENDER, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and a liberation of the old.”
Churchill could easily have told the public that Belgium and other countries had already surrendered, that the Germans were close to conquering Western Europe and to expect an invasion any day.
Instead, he created a vision of German troops landing on the beaches and in the hills, and the British people fighting them off with all their might.
He also painted a picture of Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, India, and other allies coming to Britain’s rescue if they needed it.
This proved to be a great turning point in the war; the allies battled to victory five years later.
But what does this all have to do with marketing?
Well, Churchill masterfully spurred people into action in the worst of circumstances, by painting a vision of a positive future.
And guess what?
Painting vivid pictures in the minds of others is a powerful tool of persuasion in war… in negotiation… and in advertising.
If you can capture your reader’s imagination and show them how your product will improve their life, you’re sure to increase response and pocket more moolah.
The best example of this I can think of is the letter direct marketing legend Bill Bonner wrote to launch International Living, now a nine-figure business.
It starts like this:
“You look out your window, past your gardener, who is
busily pruning the lemon, cherry, and fig trees… amidst
the splendor of gardenias, hibiscus, and hollyhocks.
The sky is clear blue. The sea is a deeper blue, sparkling
A gentle breeze comes drifting in from the ocean, clean
and refreshing, as your maid brings you breakfast in bed.
For a moment, you think you have died and gone to
But this paradise is real. And affordable. In fact, it costs
only half as much to live this dream lifestyle…as it would
to stay in your own home!
I’d like to send you a FREE copy of a unique – and invaluable – report.
It’s called How to Retire in Paradise on $30 a Day. And it tells you about the best places in the world for retirement living.”
I think I’ve made my point.
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