Impactful marketing messages

posted on January 12th 2012 in Marketing with 0 Comments

Getting your marketing messaging right and consistent could be the difference between being ignored and your target market taking action. This post is all about creating the right message, and not a right mess.

A new brochure, email campaign or website needs content and you’ll need to decide how to match attention grabbing web design and graphic design with equally impactful stuff to read. And in particular the key message (or messages) to communicate. Here are some tips on creating impactful and engaging copy.

1. A clear objective

Sounds obvious, but the clarity around knowing what you want the piece of activity to achieve is a good starting place.  Is this a hard hitting lead generation communication to new prospects?  Or an offer to existing customers to get them to buy more, or even up-grade?  Alternatively, you may need a communication to your loyal customer base to thank them, introduce a loyalty incentive or show them the very latest products, solutions and thinking you can provide.

Whatever the marketing task, and it could be a hybrid of some of the above if done well, it’s worth deciding early what you want it to do.  Be single minded (we come to this later).

2. Customer insight

OK so ‘insight’ is a bit posh.  We don’t mean you need a marketing research agency to establish what drives your customers, although it could help – you and your sales people should know what drives them.

Some examples might help:

Web-based homewares mail order company

  • Basic insight: Consumers need stuff like lights, kitchenware and furnishings to make their home look good
  • Interesting insight: Love individuality and items you wouldn’t normally find in the High Street chains. Love the thought of friends saying, ‘Wow, where did you get that’?
  • Fantastic insight: Like the thought of buying British. Prepared to pay for handmade items that are ultra-exclusive

UK based kids fun-park

  • Basic insight: Parents need to entertain the kids in the holidays
  • Interesting insight: Parents will go more than once so they don’t have to think of new things to do. They want variety so it’s not boring, getting in made easy and good value via season ticket schemes
  • Fantastic insight: Kids love the characters from the biggest TV shows

Imagine how much richer your messaging (and product offering) becomes when you delve deeper into customer needs. An ad with ‘Entertain the kids this summer’ is a bit dull, whereas something announcing your kids can meet Peppa Pig and you could get 10% off a season ticket on the same day becomes more impactful.

Similarly 10% off to celebrate exclusive great British homeware designers really taps into the core drivers of the customer, rather than a dull money off deal.

3. Fit with your brand positioning

Every brand should have an agreed brand positioning – in other words clarity on what you stand for in the market and how you look, feel and sound. So it’s vital your messaging fits with, and works towards maintaining your overall positioning.

An example might help.  Take the kids fun park we talked about earlier on, and lets suppose their overall brand positioning is ‘Entertaining Exercise’ as they have all sorts of things for kids to climb, bounce, leap, run and jump in, on and through.  A better message to fit the brand position would state your kids could come and do a 15 minute dance routine with Peppa Pig and her family, whilst you do a celebratory jig with 10% off season tickets.

As you can see, everything starts to glue together rather nicely when good strategic foundations are laid.

4. Targeting and tweaking

If you’ve spent the time segmenting your customers into distinct groups then ensure your messaging reflects their discreet needs and your marketing tasks, rather than a blanket approach.  It could be that the vast majority of the communication remains consistent, with only small changes made to make it even more effective.

A customer offer for instance could be based on the same basic 25% off mechanic, but headlines or key messages could vary massively if you can keep the different communications discrete:

  • For irregular customers – 25% off to tempt you back
  • For discerning big spenders – a big 25% discount for our biggest spenders
  • For the budget conscious – in tough times we thought 25% would help

The list could go on, and you would probably change the discount depending on the segment, but this illustrates the point that one size fits all marketing communications isn’t hard to avoid.

5. Truth

If you’re going to lead with a big claim, or big offer then make sure it stacks up against scrutiny.  Not only because advertising should always be decent, honest and true to keep you out of trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority, but the damage to your brand and company when you’re found out can be irrecoverable.

6. Being single minded

Going right back to the beginning we talked about setting an objective for the communication. It’s essential you choose the most motivating message to lead on, and ensure it’s based on your customer insight.

The simple fact is you’re fighting for people’s attention, and once you have it you need your message understood and remembered in a very short space of time. People are bombarded and can’t be bothered to trawl through detail.

What you say and how many messages you can get across will vary on the media you use. A poster can carry ten words or so, whereas other media can be more detailed. You will still need to be rigorous in making sure your key headline and messages have enough room to stand out – just because there’s space it’s not always wise to fill it with a few more bullet points.

7. Impact

Get to the point quickly.  And make sure that headline message taps into the customers’ core need and your insights.

Immediacy and waffle free copy is so important, so make sure your key message is out in the open, and clearly written within the headline and first couple of sentences.

It’s also worth making sure your headlines and copy are written in a way that gets across the functional benefit (for example, 25% off) and also elicits an emotional response – you’ll be creating a stronger impact by doing so.  All the examples we’ve outlined in this guide have a little extra over and above simply writing 25% off or we’re great value.

8. Mapping it out and timing

A map of what you will say, to whom and when can add great structure to your communications if you have anything more than just a simple programme of activity.

Seeing an overall plan of how offers, product launches and thank you’s map out across the year gives a clearer insight into how much your customer could be receiving. You can also use it to tap into seasonal insights or buying patterns to tailor messages and themes.

We would love to hear your comments