Preparing a marketing communication, what’s the focus? Where’s the promise?

Like everyone today who goes to work and comes home at the end of the day, I am bombarded by marketing/selling messages throughout each working day. And, add to that what I work with during the day going through PR articles, ads, brochures and so on, this comes to quite a lot.

How does one get noticed with all the messages bombarding you each day?

Going through the trade media as most of my clients are B2B marketers, I read or go through a lot of ads everyday. Many of which, i find disappointing.

Now these ads are probably produced sloppily in-house and quite a good number are professionally-prepared by professional communication practitioners and advertising agencies. And, I put myself as guilty of these same transgressions in marketing communication.

I personally make no excuses as I usually just follow client instructions, especially when clients supply the copy. And, my only input is by way of layout. In these instances, I do make suggestions as to the copy, if appropriate. (But, I must admit that sometimes it is easier to take the path of least resistance, and just give in quietly).

I refer to the ad message and what is set out in the ad. This is what will set a marketing communication apart from the surrounding messges.

Many ads feature the client logo on top, with ad copy being either a company mission statement or an enumeration of products and services offered—the classic tombstone ad, or “name, rank and serial number ad” as this is also known. Really a larger version of a business card, with maybe an addition or photo/s or other visuals. And, when you are faced by an array of business cards, who really bothers about the message.

These ads are of value only as subliminal reminders of an organisation’s presence in the marketplace, at best. Unfortunately, at worse, these are not only ignored, but could be a way of proving to the market that the staff of the company concerned is just too busy to take time to prepare the right message or really is not interested in getting more customers.

Well, maybe. But consider this: when putting out a marketing communication, the point of view is not “I” or “we”, but should really be “you”. Yes, you the customer or prospective customer.

And, to really make an impact on the reader, the aspect certainly should be what’s in it for the reader. Yes, think about it, when you read a communication piece, one of your first questions is normally, what’s in it for me, right?.

Every piece should have some sort of promise.

Dr. Samuel Johnson (18th century English author and lexicographer) noted that ” promise, much promise, is the soul of an advertisement.”

A close friend of the Thrales and executor of their estate, he expounded when selling off Mrs Thrale’s brewery: ” we are not here to sell off vats and boilers but wealth beyond dreams of avarice.” (Now, that is a promise.)

A more up-to-date example which comes to mind after so many years is Volvo.

The slant of the Volvo ads some 15 years ago was on safety. The focus was not on the car itself, but on the safety shell, built into each vehicle. Volvo now has another slant, but the “Staying Alive” message is still at the back of my mind because it was memorable. And more importantly, the promise was safety, not just the driver, but the driver’s family who are in the vehicle with him (her).

Yes, drive a Volvo and you and your family will be safe. Again, a great promise.

(Funny though, that the safety cell was not invented by Volvo, though the company would certainly be remembered for relating this with its cars. It was developed by Mercedes Benz, who did not patent the technology as the management of the company wanted to share this with the rest of the world.)

Excuse my digression, but let us remember that the principal consideration is not that you as a marketer are there put a message across because you love your organisation or your job, it’s because you as a marketer exist because of your customers. No customers, no you.

And, your customer doesn’t care about your company, your mission statement, your product (or service) offering, but on what your company can do for him or her. Yes, what’s in it for me (the customer).

So, the point of view and the message is a promise of something that must just be too good to pass up.

And, put simply the more enticing the message the greater the interest the reader will have to go beyond the headline, read through the body copy and then contact you for more details.

It's good to remind people who you are and how you can help them
A call to action in a print ad is asking for the order, really

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