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How Hey Whipple Translates to Better Marketing and Sales Strategies

How Hey Whipple Translates to Better Marketing and Sales Strategies

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! is required reading for some marketing students. Read on to learn how a few of its principles can be applied to sales, too.

For some people who study marketing, or those looking to learn more about advertising, Luke Sullivan’s Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! is a fun alternative to a textbook. This book, now in its fourth edition, guides readers through the art of creating advertising, and it all starts with Mr. Whipple.

In 1964, Charmin introduced a spokesman, Mr. Whipple, in its commercials. For 20 years the character was present in the toilet paper company’s advertising, along with the slogan, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” In its heyday, both Mr. Whipple and his catchphrase were widely known and popular. Sullivan writes, “I’ll wager if Whipple were to air today, there would be a hundred different parodies on YouTube tomorrow.”

The first edition of Hey Whipple is approximately 20 years old, and it’s now in its fifth edition. Although it was originally written for traditional advertisers, this advertising tome is chock full of guidance for all marketers, and many of its lessons resonate with salespeople as well. In this article we’ll explore some of its classic guidance, much of which is echoed in popular blogs and articles online.

2015 State of marketing. Insights from over 5000 global marketers. Get the report.

Some of the Lessons Marketers and Salespeople Can Learn from Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!

  • Great ads are intelligent, clean, witty, beautiful, and human.
  • Your brand should be an adjective.
  • Your marketers and salespeople need to know your product inside out.

Great ads are intelligent, clean, witty, beautiful, and human.

Sullivan is talking about Volkswagen’s ads from the 1960s, but these adjectives should apply to your social media posts, paid ads, and email marketing too. And, just like the print ads written by the Mad Men of pre-internet advertising, memorable marketing that meet these same parameters takes time, effort, and strategy.


Intelligent online marketing, especially on social media, is well-planned and well-written. “The best social media campaigns start with a carefully developed plan,” Sonny Ganguly writes for Marketing Land. “The campaign should be a good continuation of your brand’s existing social voice and style.” Whether it’s a Facebook post about a new product, or an email campaign targeted toward leads on the cusp of converting, you must have a clear, defined strategy in place.


Do your landing pages have a clear call to action? When your visitors follow your instructions and land on your website, they need to know exactly what you want them to do. Every link, every button, every design element needs to be perfectly in place. As Megan Marrs writes in 17 Best Practices for Crazy-Effective Call-To-Action Buttons, your calls to action need to “appear in appropriate places that align with a user’s experience.”


Not every ad needs to be funny. But every piece of marketing material needs to be “clever in perception and expression” (especially when it comes from a salesperson). The function of the copy in anything you present to a lead or customer is to catch the reader’s attention. Demian Farnworth at Copyblogger says copywriting “requires creativity, a sense of beauty and style—a certain aptitude, mastery, and special knowledge.”


Amy Cowen explains this perfectly: She writes that content can be beautiful in different ways. “One example of ‘beautiful content’ is well-researched and organized content that has a structure and a flow. Another example is richly illustrated content that speaks to visual learners . . . A page of content completely devoid of grammatical and style errors is also beautiful,” Cowen says.

You’ve no doubt seen the statistics on the use of images in marketing and sales collateral. But not all visuals are created equally, and a healthy combination of a carefully selected images, graphic design elements, and proper formatting will set your materials apart. Your audience doesn’t want to be bored; serve them a visual treat.


Social media has given companies an invaluable opportunity to have real, personal conversations with their customers. Marketing especially has shifted from a selfish, attention-grabbing endeavor to a more intimate relationship. Sure, commercials and print ads still exist to increase public awareness. But content marketing—through social media, email, websites, and other online marketing—demands companies be more human.

“It’s about creating camaraderie and accountability that inspires us to build better products and workplaces, to live more healthy and meaningful lives,” Ross Crooks says in his article for Forbes. Content creation has taken over the internet, but the most successful, like GoPro’s, is user-focused. Sullivan declares, “If content is king, conversation is queen.”

But how?

Creating anything worthy of all those adjectives is hard. That’s why Sullivan wrote Hey Whipple, an entire book about how to make a great ad. But you can start with these steps:

  1. Have a strategy for every post and every email, every time you reach out as a marketer or salesperson.
  2. Make sure your audience knows exactly what you want them to do, and can do it easily.
  3. Catch people’s attention with your words—and choose those words wisely.
  4. Create visually appealing content that draws your audience in.
  5. Encourage a relationship between your reader and your company.

How to Create Effective Online Marketing

  • Have a strategy for every interaction with your audience, every time you reach out as a marketer or salesperson.
  • Ensure your audience knows what you want them to do, and can do it easily.
  • Catch people’s attention with your words—and choose those words wisely.
  • Create beautiful, appealing content that draws people in.
  • Foster a relationship between your audience and your company.

Your brand should be an adjective.

As you create your relationship with leads and customers, you need to be in charge of your reputation. Your website, social media posts, emails, sales calls, in-person visits, and all your interactions with the public need to fit into the description you choose for yourself.

“It is up to you to make your brand stand for something,” Sullivan writes. Charmin, with its Mr. Whipple commercials, wanted to be known for having a soft product. Sullivan shares a few examples with cars:

  • Jeeps are rugged.
  • Porsches are fast.
  • BMWs perform.
  • Volvos are safe.

If you don’t decide what your company stands for, or what its mission statement is, consumers will. And if your customers use different adjectives to describe your company than you prefer, you need to perform reputation management. Thanks to sites like Yelp and Google, people can share their opinions quickly and easily. Your goal is to have their opinions match your chosen description.

Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton further delve into this topic in “Why Your Brand Should Speak Human,” an article they wrote for the Content Marketing Institute. “What impression do you make when a person first meets your brand through screens, a retail store, or a magazine? Like a face-to-face encounter, each of your channels is a potential handshake moment. Except you don’t have 30 seconds to make a first impression. You have maybe three seconds. How do you want to come across?”

What impression does your marketing make? What impression do your salespeople make? Make sure you don’t have an identity crisis: Ensure your interactions, collateral, and brand personality all match up with your chosen adjective.

Your marketers and salespeople need to know your product inside out.

In order to honestly reach leads and customers, your marketing and sales departments must understand your products and services. In fact, every member of each department should be able to use your products and services as your customers would. There’s no better way to run a business.

How to Get to Know Your Product or Service

Adapted from Luke Sullivan’s Process for Ad Brainstorming

  • Question everything
    • Ask seemingly dumb questions
    • What would make you want to buy the product?
  • Try your competitor’s product
  • When you talk or write about your offerings:
    • Make the benefit relatable
    • Avoid style and focus on substance
    • Make your claims incontestable

Sullivan describes the process of ad ideation. Much of the process is just as pertinent to understanding what you’re selling.

  • Try the competitor’s product.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions.
  • Ask yourself what would make you want to buy the product.
  • Dramatize the benefit.
  • Avoid style and focus on substance.
  • Make your claims incontestable.

Of course, you need to know your audience just as much as you know your company’s offerings. Successful marketers create personas and segment email lists to focus on a particular audience, but the same idea goes for salespeople, too. In the informative, long-form article “Your Product Demo Sucks Because It’s Focused on Your Product” on First Round Review, the author writes, “Good demos don’t have to be perfect for the product. They have to be perfect for the audience.”

Your audience is your top priority.

Sure, making the sale is important. Your metrics, ROI, sales figures, and financial statements are all key elements in determining your success. But your audience—leads, prospective customers, and customers—deserves your utmost respect and attention.

Communicating with your audience is the theme of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!, and Luke Sullivan has important advice for aspiring and tenured copywriters and marketers. But much of his advice carries over to sales, too. No matter the size of your company or your budget, focus on how you communicate with your customers, who you are to them, and knowing your offerings and customers as well as you can. These priorities will help you succeed.

2015 State of marketing. Insights from over 5000 global marketers. Get the report.

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