F.O.C.U.S. I.T. for Great ACBs

The ACB communicates the unmet need or frustration that your target consumer feels. It provides a fundamental context for the entire concept. Get it wrong and the concept becomes confusing and irrelevant. Get it right and the concept will flow forward effortlessly. Of course, this forward flow also assumes that your benefit and reason to believe (RTB) provide the solution and information required to fulfill the consumer’s needs and complete the logic in a believable manner.

You need to keep seven primary areas in mind when writing strong ACBs. You can easily remember these using the acronym “FOCUS IT.”

F: Favorable tone
O: Once
C: Conversational
U: Unadorned
S: Statement
I: “I”-first person
T: Terse”

While you can read a lot more about this in my book, Marketing Concepts that Win!, here’s a primer to get you started.

Favorable Tone – Even if you are setting up a problem, which is likely negative, you still need to keep your target interested in your product or service. If you are too overtly negative, your target will disengage.

Once – Restating the benefit is a natural tendency when we write concepts, but resist it and give the information one time only. Repetition happens primarily when a writer tries so hard to set up the benefit that he says the same thing twice.

Conversational – Your target must relate to what you are communicating so say it in their language. You wouldn’t talk about the pharmacology of a drug to a consumer the same way as a doctor; they have different needs.

Unadorned – When you write ACBs, you should subscribe to the idea of “less is more.” It’s important to communicate what you need to say, but it’s just as important to be economical with your words. When an ACB includes too much information, it often encourages the reader to dismiss particular elements and respond with, “That doesn’t really refer to me.”

Statement – It is very important that you write a declarative sentence rather than pose a question. This is not advertising and you don’t want to risk having your target answer “no.”

First Person – Your goal is to make a personal connection with the reader of the concept and to show empathy for the situation. Using the first person in the ACB helps to create that interpersonal context.

Terse- It is critically important to focus on just one area of insight at a time, keeping it terse and single-minded. If you load up the ACB with multiple problems it becomes unbelievable that the product or service you’re offering could resolve so many issues.

So there you have it. Next time you’re writing a concept, make sure you FOCUS IT to get started!

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