This was my first copywriting job, straight out of the R&D lab. (Please note: These are NOT my graphics or typography, just the copy.)
Objective: Strategic market repositioning. AA’s dominance is openly challenged by ICP-AES. In most quarters, this was outright heresy if not blasphemy!
This ad broke the stranglehold of Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy on its virtual monopoly market, opening the floodgates for $100-200+ million/year ICP/AES/MS market on a global basis over the last 30 years.
See more for Background on Ad marketing approach [click here].
I begged then president of ARL, Dr. Phillips W. Smith, to let me write the copy for this ad. Phil bought my pitch. I wrote the copy, but had to argue with Corporate Communications over the grammatical correctness of those three words “Simpler than AA!”
I won that battle. But the graphics folks totally botched the art (fiddled with the plasma appearance to make it look more familiar, like a flame) and placed small text in a black background making it virtually unreadable. If you’re interested in the actual text details [click here].
It’s a miracle the ad worked. However, the headline alone did its job with a simple three word statement challenging the reader. In turn, my call to action asked readers to challenge the ARL sales force, to put them on the spot. People were incredulous, asking “Simpler than AA? How is that possible?” Some were even indignant. This was heresy of the highest order!
Inquiries began to flood in.
Prospects for ICPs took up the “Simpler than AA” challenge with the ARL sales team, who began howling for more technical support. Now, I really had some copywriting to do!
The Black Book was quickly pulled together for them, but these copies soon disappeared. Sales were leaving them behind with prospects “by accident.”
Next, the White Book was expanded to 75 pages and printed in much larger quantity. They were made available to anyone who even looked like a prospect.
The white book quickly evolved into day-long seminars translated into five languages which were presented world-wide on six continents.
The technical contents were presented on six screens with two digitally controlled projectors using multiple slide carousels and stereo sound tracks. The local sales folks presenting the seminar gave it their own local color and took “ownership” of this production to their prospects.
This was theater, and event, not your small screen stuff on your laptop with a dispersed audience. When attendees left these seminars, they put on their white hats and six-shooters, and bought ARL ICPs.
Finally, in 2008, based on objective Science Citation Index data, and review by four past editors, my 30- page feature article ranked in the top 10 “all-time breakthrough ‘blockbuster’ papers” published by Applied Spectroscopy over their entire 65 year history of publication. [Click Here] for free PDF copy.
Now we jump forward a few short years to the desperate need for productive copy.
Lab Support (LSI) ended its first year with $70,000 gross revenue and blown-out personal credit cards.
A wizened and wise old copywriter (not Yoda named) once stated, "Any business problem could be solved by a good sales letter."
Fortunately LSI was able to attract seed investment of $300,000 from Sierra Ventures. $30,000 of that was used to create LSI’s initial brochure set. “ … best money we ever spent!” Bruce R. Culver, past president, co-founder, Lab Support, Inc.
That material made puny little Lab Support look like the 30 million dollar company it quickly became, and able to grow another order of magnitude to 300 million dollars.
The time for change was ripe. Memories of long unemployment lines were fresh, and even gigantic IBM ended their ‘lifetime hire’ practice. Lab Support challenged status quo and pierced the idea barrier.
For the first time, management could easily find and employ scientific-technical personnel on a temporary basis. Necessary staffing fluctuations could be buffered with flexibility and economy.
LSI grew from a single “donated” office, climbed the rungs of the INC.500 ladder, covered cities across America, and issued an IPO in a few short years as On Assignment (ASGN – NASDAQ).
You can click on the following figures to enlarge.
Please browse the column to the right for examples of the copy you might need created for your company or organization. If you don’t immediately see what you want, give me a call or e-mail. I’m not at all bashful and will be as helpful as possible, and very glad to speak with you. Thanks. –Raf
Footnotes to above follow:
Atomic emission spectrometry had been dormant for years without any significant practical advances for the analytical chemist, although war-time production of alloy analysis was expedited from weeks of wet chemistry down to 60 seconds or less.
Along comes a bright Aussie named Alan Walsh with a new idea. Let’s replace those barn sized and expensive emission spectrometers with low cost bench top instruments. We’ll use narrow line sources as the primary resolving element. It will be called Atomic Absorption (AA). It was such a clever idea, that Her Royal Highness, the Queen, knighted him as Sir Alan Walsh.
Sir Alan succeeded in selling the idea to Varian and Perkin Elmer, but not Dr. Maurice Hasler, founder of ARL, who insisted on simultaneous multielement capability. Apart from arc/spark metal alloy analysis, single element at a time AA came to rule the world.
Stan Greenfield of Albright & Wilson, England had a serious analytical problem with accurate assay of concentrated phosphoric acid. Classical solute vaporization interferences common to the flames used in AA prevented free atom formation necessary for quantitative analysis.
Thomas B. Reed at MIT had developed an inert-gas inductively coupled plasma (ICP) with no electrodes, which thus was contamination free, and perfect for growing high purity refractory crystals.
Greenfield thought that because of its high temperature, this ICP might be useful for analysis of concentrated phosphoric acid. Within a few short weeks he had a very satisfactory simultaneous multielement atomic emission spectroscopy solution to his problem. No chemical flame interferences whatsoever were observed.
Claude Veillon and Marvin Margoshes at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) evaluated their own version of an ICP and concluded that such plasmas would have little analytical use in the future.
Despite the harsh conclusion at the NBS, I fathered the first commercially available complete ICP AES instrument system and ARL introduced it at Pittcon in 1974. Next, I validated its utility in a peer-reviewed record-breaking 30-page feature article in Applied Spectroscopy in 1978. VelmerFassel called it an epic. [RETURN TO TEXT ORIGIN]
Faster, and more versatile too. That’s ICP, the most advanced method of elemental analysis available. Better than Atomic Absorption because it’s simpler. And the best ICPs are from ARL. That’s saying a lot. But then, ARLs complete line of ICPs do a lot. Here’s what we mean:
FASTER – simultaneous multielement analysis – up to 60 elements at once, and 3000 determinations per hour means speed and efficiency unavailable with AA.
INCREASED VERSATILITY – for changing requirements you simply select the elements of interest at any time with ARL’s ICP. What could be simpler?
GREATER SENSITIVITY – Superior to flame AA across the periodic table. Up to a million times more sensitive than flame AA for rare earths and refractory elements. You get boron at 5 nanograms/ml, and sulfur at 40 nanograms/ml among others.
MORE RELIABLE – Simple, yet solid. ARL design requires fewer instrument settings to adjust, less sample preparation, and therefore, less chance for error. Greater accuracy!
So, whatever your analytical task – water quality, soils, foods, pharmaceuticals, petroleum, biological or geological – use ICP. And when you do, chose ARL, the first to introduce a commercial ICP system, and the company whose sole business is spectrochemistry. We’ve got a network of manufacturing plants, sales and service engineers, and technical support specialists on six continents ready to serve you.
We’re ARL. The company whose ICP makes solutions … simpler. Ask us to show you how!