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Marketing Guide – Here’s How To Avoid Sending A Meaningless Message

Marketing Guide – Here’s How To Avoid Sending A Meaningless Message

Have you ever read a brochure and paused for a moment, just to make sense of the words? You read it again and eventually accept that the informational value to you is not there. 

Marketers have a tough job. They constantly have to bring so many ideas into the copy to enhance its appeal. It takes a feat of brilliance to capture the essence of a proposition in a simple, compelling and relatable message, without compromising on novelty. This has its risks. The ideas that don’t make the cut are sometimes the ones that would have tied it all together, elegantly. 

This growing phenomenon is fast approaching crisis level. The pursuit of creative messaging is costing marketers the message entirely. 

In this thought, we consider three reasons why marketing messages fail spectacularly. We also explore strategies – guideposts if you will – to help keep things on track, and ensure that the right message is delivered to its intended audience.

Verbosity Is Not A Virtue

One common reason for marketing fails is simply saying too much. As a result, the real message is lost in everything else. 

It’s a fixable fault. However, the idea of trimming down a message to a shadow of its former self is hardly delightful, and marketers notoriously resist it. This shows up in several formats. The most obvious are TV and radio ads that feel like they’re at 2x playback speed. I’ve always wondered why anyone would want to rush a message this important, one meant to create a connection with their audience. It feels like a counterintuitive approach to building relationships.

There’s no way around it. For a marketing message to be clear, it has to be as concise as possible. That trimming down process is necessary. In the writing world, it’s called “killing your darlings” because it takes the cuteness out of a message. But that’s a good thing. Because clear and concise is better than cute and confused. No pun intended.

Say The Needful

We’ve established that there’s no need to max out the word count. Let’s move on to the next big thing: word choice.

In conversation, one can ask clarifying questions about what’s being said. This feature is absent from marketing messages, because marketing normally happens in a one-way channel. The meaning of a message rests entirely on the marketer’s word choice. Things can and often do go wrong here. 

Here’s a common reason why that is. Marketing messages have to be politically correct, socially relevant, and culturally appropriate, all while having great optics. It’s a long list of checkboxes. Once again, there’s a real risk of losing the message in all the added extras. This pressure is especially felt with marketing initiatives in an inherently polarised space like social justice.

See Also

There is a song I recommend every marketer listen to once in a while. Admittedly an unlikely source of truth on the subject. It does, however, underscore the importance of saying the needful, confidently. Say, by John Mayer, is packed with nuggets of wisdom. Its chorus repeats the central message – Say what you need to say – eight times for emphasis. 

If a message is inherently audacious, sugar-coating it doesn’t make it any less so. This only obscures its meaning. Marketers need to learn this and say the needful, especially when this calls for courage. 

Speak To The Right Needs

I’m slightly perplexed when a shaving stick manufacturer markets their products as being “for the discerning man who knows his worth and place in the world.” Such aspirational messaging is far removed from the obvious problem the product solves. 

This is an error in market positioning. Studies show that consumers are more responsive to messages about their pain points than their aspirations. It results from a bias called loss aversion, which causes negative outcomes to affect behaviour far more than positive ones. Loss aversion can explain why marketing messages that speak to pain points, and how the product alleviates them, are the most impactful. Granted, many product offerings don’t alleviate pain or discomfort. Luxury items are in a league of their own. They are indeed aspirational and are targeted to consumers at the front end of a normal distribution curve. However, for the vast majority of products that classify as necessities, this marketing approach misses an opportunity to connect with consumers through their experienced pain points, for greater impact.

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