By Erika Turan
I’ve been a PR and marketing practitioner for more than 20 years now, the past seven years at this awesome, award-winning marketing and public relations agency in Cincinnati. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve done a lot. Some things have worked. Some things have failed miserably. Much like anything in life, there are lessons to be learned, and time proves out those things that are always successful.
When we go through a marketing audit with our clients, it’s not uncommon to find messaging, collateral and web copy that smack of braggadocio, chest-thumping and clichés. It’s rarely done intentionally, but it’s such an easy trap to fall into. Following that tried-but-not-true pattern, communications can sound like, “We’re the best! We are state-of-the-art/innovative/high-tech/insert-cliché here. We are your best option. We are the first/biggest/only …” Yawn.
And to consumers, it’s a total turn off. There’s no effort being made to connect, no compelling reason being given to try the offered product or service. It sounds like so much else being advertised and just fades to the background like small talk at an overcrowded cocktail party. Forgettable and tired.
Take a look at your own marketing materials. Are you guilty of this marketing sin? If so, you’re not alone. The good news is that there’s a fix. It takes more time and effort, but doesn’t everything worthwhile?
For every claim you make, ask yourself why your target audience should believe it, and, more importantly, why they should care. If you’re claiming the title of “best,” then you should be able to point to objective accolades, awards and achievements that got you there. If you’re claiming the title of “biggest,” your marketing needs to consider why that should matter to consumers, and explain it.
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, exterior restaurant signage at McDonald’s included an ever-increasing number of hamburgers sold. Drive by your local McDonald’s and it might say “100 million sold” one week and “101 million” the next. By the time the ‘90s rolled around, those that still had signs just said “billions and billions.” But somewhere along the way, that mass mentality became a turn off to consumers. Quantity no longer related to quality, and we were wise to it. McDonald’s abandoned that messaging and turned to new tactics, but they never told us why we should care that they’d sold millions (or billions) of burgers. Perhaps it could prove satisfied customers. Or maybe efficiency if you’re in a hurry. Or that they’d perfected burger-making to the point that everybody wanted one of theirs. Whatever the reason, it was an opportunity lost.
One big, international client I worked with was facing static growth and stale marketing materials. They’d always advertised themselves as the biggest, first, best. And they were. But that’s where their efforts ended. Their customers were falling away, and new customers weren’t signing on. In a major re-vamp of their messaging, they turned their marketing on its ear. Their copy now focused on empathizing with the challenges their customers faced and how their products and services could help. The company was energized, and growth ticked upward again.
Impactful reasons to believe change everything. They take into account why your product or service will meet the needs or solve the problems of your customers. They are considerate of intelligent consumers who aren’t just going to take you at your word. And they should be at the very core of everything you write and communicate.
Need help with your reasons to believe? Give us a call.