Is your advertising message getting lost?

Being a marketing communication specialist, I come across many marketing/selling messages throughout each working day, professionally and personally.

Again, I must profess disappointment at the quality of advertising in the trade press. I’m not saying that these ads are all produced sloppily in-house, many are professionally-prepared by ad agencies or other professional communication practitioners. (Yours truly being one of these practitioners.)

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. Let me refer to the ad message and what is set out in the ad. (However, when I am asked to develop a concept, it’s another story.) 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”. These ads are of value only as subliminal reminders of an organisation’s presence in the marketplace—as a best case. Unfortunately, most times 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.

Am I being too critical?

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. What advantage is there to be gained by even reading the ad?

It’s something I’ve harped on in the past, the need of a promises. This is usually of one or more benefits the reader would get from buying or using the advertiser’s product or service.

When Dove sold its soap to the public, the company did not just offer a means of achieving personal hygiene, but one of “younger and smoother skin”. The emphasis was on the moisturiser in the soap.

The Volvo ads of some years back put the emphasis 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).

We note 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 wanted to share this with the rest of the world.

I digress, but you get my drift. 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.

Finally, 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). This is something we just cannot ignore.

So, the slant 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. Mission accomplished.

Getting more out of your marketing communication in today’s climate: PR and Publicity
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