Banter As A Tool Of Selling


(By Roy Williams)

“Yes. This is another interesting fact that will broaden your horizons.”
“Okay, let’s get this over with. So tell me, what in the name of King-of-the-Sea Poseidon and Chicken-of-the-Sea tuna is repartee?”
“Repartee is the banter between interesting characters.”
“Great. I appreciate you sharing that with me.”
“But I haven’t told you why you need to know.”
“I don’t know that I do need to know.”
“You need to know.”
“For the record, your little whale-puke story still hasn’t done me any good.”
“Someday you’ll be glad you know about ambergris.”
“Can you name that day for me? I’ll put it on my calendar.”
“You need to know about repartee today. Right now, in fact.”
“You’re about to start advertising.”
“Yeah, and?”
“Yankelovich says the average citizen is bombarded with more than 5,000 selling messages per day.”(1)
“Yankel who?”
“Yankelovich. It’s a consumer behavior research firm.”
“Five thousand a day, really?”
“Yeah. So what are you going to do to make your message stand apart from those other 5,000?”
“I think it might be easier to find some whale puke.”
“Repartee works because people naturally turn their attention toward interesting interactions. Ever heard of Elmore Leonard?”
“Novelist, right?”
“When he was asked if he had a secret formula for writing bestsellers, he said, ‘I try to leave out the parts that people skip.’”
“Dewey Crowe is my favorite character of his.”
“Yeah, Dewey’s awesome. But then the interviewer had a followup question.”
“Did they ask, ‘What are the parts that people skip?’”
“Yeah. How did you know?”
“It’s what I would have asked.”
“So, do you want to know what they skip?”
“Actually, yes.”
“Everything that isn’t dialogue.”
“So you’re saying all I have to do is turn my ads into a conversation between two people?”
“That’s not what I’m saying at all.”
“How is it not what you’re saying?”
“If you write an ad and put it into the mouths of two people, it’s still an ad. It’s not dialogue. It’s not banter. It’s not repartee.”
“What is it then?”
“It’s Ad Speak.”
“It would still sound like an ad?”
“Of course it would. Real people never talk like that. Repartee is the personality-revealing banter between characters who actually have personalities.”
“Like me and you?”
“Mostly me.”
“I’d have to do this repartee thing on radio or TV, right?”
“Why do you think that?”
“I mean, it’s people talking.”
“But we’re not doing this on radio or TV. We’re doing this in a magazine.”
“Is repartee a French word?”
“I think so. Why do you ask?”
“It sounds pretentious, and that usually means it’s French.”
“You can call it banter if you want.”
“Banter. My ads are going to be known for banter. I’m going to be the Banter man.”
“I’m glad I could help.”
“Wait a minute. Did you say we were having this conversation in a magazine?”
“Yeah. It’s a column written by a guy named Williams. Calls himself the Wizard of Ads.”
“The Wizard of Ads?”
“Must be French.”
[Both men start laughing.]
# # END # #

(1) This number includes “brand exposures” along with ads.
The average number of true ads we encounter daily, including online, is 362.

Roy H. Williams is president of Wizard of Ads Inc.



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