“Nibblin’ on sponge cake, watchin’ the sun bake…wasting away again in Margaritaville”
Jimmy Buffet is a better copywriter than you. Are you kidding? No.
Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Changes in Latitudes/Changes in Attitudes are all songs from Jimmy Buffet that conjure up visions of boat drinks, a palm thatched hut, escapism, and if just for a fleeting moment, an unconventional life.
However, did you know that Buffett has written three No. 1 best sellers?
- Tales from Margaritaville
- Where Is Joe Merchant?
- A Pirate Looks At Fifty
Two of his books spent over seven months on the New York Times Best Seller fiction list and his autobiography, A Pirate Looks At Fifty, went straight to No. 1 on the non-fiction list.
In fact, he is only one of seven authors in that list’s history to have reached No. 1 on both the fiction and non-fiction lists. (source: Jimmy Buffet Wikipedia)
What is it that creates such loyalty to the Buffet brand?
The other day a guest of mine asked, “So do you listen to Jimmy Buffet and drink piña coladas every day now that you live in the Caribbean?”
Of course, in order to keep up appearances, I told her, “Absolutely and most days I walk around in a grass skirt and put a foam shark fin on my back too.”
And then I realized, you know, since I left snowy, cold, and blustery Worcester, Massachusetts over ten years ago I haven’t wanted listen to Buffet at all.
But her question got me to thinking… there must be something to this guy’s music that we, as business owners and online marketers, should pay close attention to.
What’s Buffet’s secret sauce for success?
How has he been able to create a tribe of cult like followers who attend his shows en masse and consistently make his live shows sell out within hours?
Moreover, how does Buffet get typically rational folks, from normally conservative young professionals all the way up to near retirees, to dress up in ridiculous outfits like coconut bikinis, grass skirts and parrot hats?
It’s not mango salsa, rum drinks, or even the promise of Captain Cook’s buried treasure!
Could it possibly be quirky, brandable phrases like – ‘parrotheads’, ‘ fins up’, and ‘land sharks’? Well, that might be part of it.
By his own admission in his book, “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” Buffet is not an exceptionally gifted musician and he surely does not have model-esque good looks. As for his writing, certainly, Buffet is no Mark Twain.
So what is it that has allowed him to dominate his niche and succeed on such a grand scale, where others have failed? And perhaps, most importantly, how can Jimmy’s formula for success help you to enhance your writing and increase sales?
Here are eight irrefutable ingredients that Buffet uses, which can help you improve your copy:
Ingredient 1 – The power of story
Whether you like his music, or not, Jimmy Buffet is a master storyteller and this characteristic above all else has led to his success. The tales and stories that are weaved through his lyrics, such as, being adrift in the Caribbean ocean and finally reaching the sandy shore to discover the perfect cheeseburger and cold beer. Or how a change in latitude to a warmer climate will instantly bring a change in attitude are the stuff of legend.
I dare any of you to tell me that on a cold and miserable winter’s night you haven’t broken out the blender, made some margaritas and cranked his music, if just for a little while, to be transported someplace warmer. Whether drafting a blog post, an ‘About’ page or writing an eBook, a great story sells every time, guaranteed.
Ingredient 2 – Clear vision
Buffet knows exactly where he wants to take people with his songs, “But there’s this one particular harbor/So far but yet so near,” and he writes his lyrics accordingly.
For the small business owner and marketer who’s using the internet to drive traffic to their business, product, or service it is awfully hard to craft a compelling story if you don’t have a vision.
Ingredient 3 – Unabashed passion
Not only does Jimmy embody the flip-flop and sand in the toes mentality through his music, he has lived the life and loves it. You can hear it in his composition and he really makes people believe that we should all be living this way.
Most consumers can smell a fake and fraud. Are you injecting passion into your message?
Ingredient 4 – Tap into emotion
Buffet’s music and lyrics are supposed to make you feel good and meet you on a visceral level. His emotional pitch; the sun is out, the piña coladas are fresh, and it never rains in paradise. The people tailgating before his concerts might not be able to afford a vacation, but he makes exotic dreams come true because he makes people feel good about themselves.
Most purchases are driven by pure emotion and buyers don’t always buy what they need or want. Do you want your buyers to be excited, happy, or motivated? Then make sure your writing delivers.
Ingredient 5 – Clutter free message
The lyrics to the song Margaritaville, “nibbling on sponge cake and watching the sun bake” are not going to win old Jimmy any Pulitzer prizes, but his message is crystal clear.
In his article on American writing, William Zinsser states perfectly, “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.” Enough said.
Ingredient 6 – Serve your niche
Buffet writes his lyrics like he is an expert on escapism. He doesn’t say, ‘You might enjoy the sand and surf’ he tells you with conviction. Additionally, he does not write songs in an effort to win over the heavy metal crowd or the classical music snobs. And you certainly won’t hear him singing about the heartwarming qualities of Bill Lumbergh and attempting to sell you on the benefits of office life.
Many online marketers struggle because they try to serve everyone. If you can’t define your niche in sixty seconds or less, I am not sure you have narrowed your focus enough.
Ingredient 7 – Fill a Purpose
There are many unhappy professionals and office workers out there and unfortunately many won’t move beyond fear and pursue their true passion. For most they simply can’t quit their job and move to paradise. Jimmy’s music fills the need for people who dream of a slacker lifestyle and warm weather escape.
Are you adding to purpose to your copy and examining what need(s) your product or service fills?
Ingredient 8 – Trust
Buffet’s “every man” style lyrics and music create a connection and bond with his fans. People feel like they know him, and most importantly, they feel like they can trust him.
If you are writing targeted information for Internet sales, would I trust you enough to give you my credit card number if I read your content?
As a small business owner I am primarily concerned with effective copy that draws in more customers, but Jimmy’s formula can work equally well on your about page, your blog, or a landing page that is designed to sell your information product.
In Jimmy’s own words…“It’s a magic kind of medicine that no doctor can prescribe…”
About the author: Mark Hayward hates the snow and cold! But he loves living in the Caribbean, owning his own business and is a co-founder of the nonprofit, Train for Humanity. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.