By APNWLNS payday loans
April 16, 2013
Two cynical definitions of language neatly describe many marketing communications:
The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another’s treasure …
The source of misunderstandings.
Marketing’s job is to charm people out of their money, preferably by articulating the true value of necessary products. Yet many marketing managers slip straight to snake oil salesmanship and leverage a ton of text and bunkers filled with buzzwords to attempt recruiting prospects. Misuse of language is a chief cause of unhappy customers and board members.
The first task in marketing communications is to promote value. Here at Silicon Strategies Marketing, we defined (copyright alert) value as “the intersection of need and differentiation.” Value intersections tend to be precise, and the language used to describe a particular value must be as well. Generalized and buzzword-heavy statements like “the most cost-effective, easy-to-use, and universally accessible” detract from precise value articulation. The results are customers who see no specific value and thus have no specific motivation to further investigate a product.
The lure of easy buzzwords is obvious. Clear market messaging is both science and art, and few folks (outside of Silicon Strategies Marketing that is) have both skills. Marketers lean on what seem like obvious value points, which is the problem. If the “value” point is obvious, then it is likely (a) universal or (b) universally claimed. Either way it violates half of the value equation, namely that your product is somehow different. Weak messaging also has the negative habit of putting readers to sleep, which makes communications even more difficult.
When crafting your value propositions, and from those your value headlines, take four steps, none of which are fast or pain free:
Understand the real value: Using our definition of value, be 100% sure that you have any. Keep in mind that the value delivered is likely different for each market segment and buyer genotype.
Customer language: Customers have their own language for their needs. Use their language, not yours, to describe the value you provide. This creates instant cognition.
Explore your thesaurus: These books exist for a reason. The word you dream-up to describe value may be good, but not precise. Find the best words.
Compare competitors: Make sure you are not saying what your competitors are. Doing so eliminates perceived differentiation.
On that note, I have to end this blog and create alignment to establish clear goals that expand diversity and empowerment in order to leverage organic growth in our new paradigm and thus create a win-win scenario.
April 2, 2013
The worst thing you can do to a good bar is to make it popular. Once everyone goes there, it isn’t worth going there anymore.
Email advertising and online surveys used to be good bars. When email first commercialized, it was a great and inexpensive tool for lead generation, prospect follow-up and brand reinforcement. But as emails popularity exploded, so did the number of marketers who abused the process. Today people dread reading their morning email – it has become a disappointment filled chore. Email open rates have been dropping. This has caused some marketers to get smarter and create better and more targeted emails.
Lousy marketers just find bigger lists and thus annoy more people, which will continue to drive down open rates.
Something related is occurring to surveys. Once online survey tools became cheap and easy to use, every man, woman and hermaphrodite with an email account started receiving survey invitations … hourly. The result is that participation rates, which were typically low before the Survey Lounge became popular, have dropped to rates less than 0.1% of invitations. People have started to auto-reflexively ignore emailed survey invitations unless the subject line is well targeted and offers some reward. A recently conducted survey went to a very tightly targeted audience with a combination of incentives (personal and charity donations) and managed a 0.2% response rate, which these days is better than average.
Anything that becomes frequent creates fatigue. Sending too many emails to one prospect, without adding new value at each step, will cause your email address to be added to a spam filter black list. Sending to people uninterested in your offering will only speed the process. To make email marketing effective again, you need to take a few logical steps:
Make it count: Emails must be meaningful, from the subject line through the last message and calls-to-action. Refine, refine, refine until it is right.
Target precisely: It is always a temptation to cast a wide net, but that has become ineffective and can land your email server on a black-hole list. Buy good lists with great hygiene and segment them relentlessly. Treat your house list the same way.
Eliminate barriers after contact: I have started abandoning pages that require registration for simple “Five ways to …” type articles. I’m not alone. Reduce friction everywhere, and raise barriers only after some form of commitment from the recipient has been made.
Keep trying alternatives and shift budget accordingly: Email is only one tool. If it is becoming less effective for you, then be bold and shift budget to places where you will get better results.
February 19, 2013
Perception is reality, until reality overrides perception.
Marketers are branded as liars in no small part because many of them are. So pervasive is the trait that certain smart people have made good money writing on the subject. Marketers are charged with promoting products, which entails setting public perception about the product. In modern use of the word, this often devolves into propaganda instead of persuasion. Effective in the short term, setting unrealistic public perception about a product will eventually backfire.
This happens to politicians all the time.
Since perception is reality, at least in the short term, you need to have a clear notion of the reality you create for the market. Like the elastic in a fat fellow’s waistband, it can only be stretched so far before it fails. Since product disappointment is the essence of negative buzz, the greater the degree of potential disappointment you create, the harder the fall once the market commences complaining.
And they know how to complain. I recently read a restaurant review where one consumer said “If they offer to pay you to eat there, Sweet Jesus, don’t do it!”
The market ultimately decides reality, and in doing so redefines your brand. No amount of remessaging or repositioning will change the soiled mind of the market once it has been misled. Criminally insane marketers (no, that is not a redundant phrase) often double down on deceit once their preliminary propaganda pops. Large amounts of otherwise good money is wasted in trying to force a market to disbelieve what it already believes, which is slightly more difficult than changing the moon’s orbit. It also tends to invite mockery and an accelerated decline in brand value.
It is up to you to define reality. But keep in mind that the market is not composed of idiots, despite the outcome of some elections. Your product promotion should nudge people in the direction of the desired perception, letting the market accept the possibility of your chosen product position. The distance between reality and the reality you try to create should be short … so short that you could easily augment the product into that condition. Making reality and positioning one and the same is even better, but foreshadowing your eventual position through current promotions is not unthinkable.
The marketing lesson is that honesty is one of the better policies. The backlash from setting unrealistic expectations is often and deservedly disastrous. “Keep it real” has real meaning.
December 18, 2012
Media ain’t what it used to be … thank God.
The internet has made everyone a publisher, and as such has completely rearranged from where information and power emit. Dead is the quaint era when all info rained like fetid manna from centralized sources. Today you, the marketing ground workers, have seemingly endless avenues for promoting your products, your brand and your profits.
Which is why some of you have been driven to drink (though for a few it was just a short stroll).
The reason self-medication is becoming popular in marketing circles has nothing to do with Mad Men or three martini lunches. It derives from needing to orchestrate outreach through all these media channels. Wherever such seeming chaos ensures, it is best to take a deep breath, a shot of something, and distill your options into a manageable set. In media, there are three basic categories through which you communicate to the world:
They Broadcast: This is traditional media – television, radio, newspapers, magazines – the rapidly fading Fourth Estate. Traditional media still has a place in modern marketing and is suited for when you need to cast a wide net over large tracts of market turf (product launches, corporate branding, etc.).
You Broadcast: Using content marketing, email and other means for directly connecting to target audiences. This approach is always cost effective, often targetable and, when done right, effective in promoting your stuff.
Everyone Broadcasts: Mainly social media, this is the leveraging of other people outside of traditional media to carry your messages and content to others.
What is maddening is that the means of manipulating each category is different, requiring different skills, tactics and teams. Yet common foundations – such as a consistent brand – must appear in all. Yet this rarely works for most companies. Small firms typically have one person in charge of media operations, and they are never savvy with them all. Large companies have different teams for each area of outreach, but stumble in cross-team coordination. It is never easy and never perfect.
Yet it is essential to do all three of the broadcast types, if for no other reason than your competition is already doing so.
Regardless of small or large operations, leadership and base lining consistency is the start. Small and large companies alike need to clearly document their brand, their core marketing messages, the position they wish the market to perceive them, and their communications objectives, then force reviews of all outbound activities against these documents. Small companies can outsource what they lack with in-house staff, but need to perform these documenting and enforcement steps as religiously as larger firms do with internal teams.
So put the bottle back in the desk drawer and wrap your mind around the three classes of media. When you launch any outreach, ask yourself which of the three should be involved, then breakdown the categories therein. This will sooth your aching head, shorten your work for the day and allow you to take that three martini lunch you had in mind.
October 23, 2012
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Simple declarative statements communicate most effectively.
Kinda like the one above.
Marketing messages need to be simple, yet marketing “pros” routinely make them complicated. Nowhere is the situation worse than in tech marketing. Perhaps lingering “feeds and speeds” mindsets pervert messaging. Or worse yet, maybe marketing types are budding authors who use marcom materials to practice their literary skills (there is a novel in every marketing director, which is a damn good place to keep it). Weak marketers rely on buzz words when copywriting skills and product differentiation do not exist.
Even I suffer from an alienating allegiance to alliteration.
Complexity sucks, and sucks the life out of messaging. People don’t have time to think, and forcing them into unsupervised thinking is dangerous. Keeping messages simple, even sparse, leads buyers rapidly to cognition, self-qualification and motivated interest. Slowing them down with needless and distracting verbiage does the opposite. Yet tech marketers love to ramble, spewing endless product prose without delivering the essential information:
- What do you sell?
- What is the value?
- Why I should care?
Think about any PowerPoint torture session you have endured. Most begin with several slides discussing who the company is and why they are great – and none of that is on the three-question-list customers ask. Most landing pages are the same way. Some landing pages fail to communicate any of the three essential items, forcing folks to hunt for links that may (but typically do not) reveal the important info.
Your job, after editing yourself, is to edit any marketing copy created by staff, PR agencies and even your CEO (I once created a keynote for the chairman of Novell. It was a model for clarity and thought leadership. He immediately turned it into unintelligible muck.) To be effective, watch for the major sources of marketing sludge:
- No value statement, especially missing in headlines
- Using unnecessary words
- Substituting massive text for meaningful information
- Talking about your company and your product, not the customer and his needs
- All buzzwords and regurgitated phrases (anyone caught saying “market leading” will be sacrificed … Aztec style)
This is marketing, not a presidential debate. We don’t need to fill our allotted time limit. We need to give customers a reason to care and do it quickly before their digital ADD takes over. Keep it simple to avoid being stupid.