Five Marketing Communication Sins – Does Your Company Commit Them?

It is sometimes amazing how stubbornly companies and their marketers cling to old-fashioned, clich├ęd and downright wrong ideas of how they should market their companies and their products or services. Here is a collection of self-destructive obsessions from my 20-year marketing communication career.

1. Me, myself and I

The most efficient way to end a date abruptly is to talk about yourself all the time. Why would your customer think differently?

When you go to almost any company’s website or read their marketing literature, you will be inundated with talk about what WE can do, what OUR values are or how OUR products perform.

Let’s be honest: the customer couldn’t care less about YOU. She wants to know “what’s in it for ME”. Instead of knowing that your machine does X thousand revolutions per minute, she needs information on how her business will do better if it buys a machine that does X thousand revolutions per minute.

In other words, don’t just tell about features. Go ahead and transform them into advantages and benefits.

2. Mass individualism

It may be fun to create terms that only have a meaning to you, or your advertising agency. But what will your customers think?

The example above is from real life, but let’s not reveal who is the culprit. The company was so proud of this flash of genius that it made it the motto of their retail chain. Obviously, nobody came to think that in only two words, magnificently contradictory, they managed to create mass confusion.

The moral of the story: When you’re creating mottos, taglines or slogans, make sense. Adapt the terminology to your target group and remember that people need to understand what you’re saying immediately. And for heaven’s sake, be clear about what your business is about and what it tries to achieve.

3. We are the best partner you can imagine

If you don’t know how to quantify your offering, maybe you should start practising. Soon and hard.

I recently ran into the website of a web design company that claimed to be “the best web design company for you”. Given that a quick Google search on “web design company” gives 86,500,000 (yes, eighty-six-and-a-half million) results, I have my doubts.

Just claiming something doesn’t make you an expert. Proving it does. Again, make it crystal clear what the customer’s benefit of doing business with you instead of your competitors is.

4. This is how it’s always been done in our industry

Has it brought any results? As Einstein said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The funniest – or most tragic – aspect of many companies’ resistance to changing their message or tone of voice is that a) they seek the help of a marketing communication specialist to improve the results of their business, and b) when they are getting the help, they still want to do it the old way. Which needed to be changed to improve the business, remember?

Particularly in times like these when the economy is slowing down, it might be an idea to be the first to break the conventions of your industry. It takes some courage, definitely, but may produce results that surprise you.

5. Our marketing team didn’t like your suggestion

All right, that’s infinity minus one. Helps the ad agency a lot.

When your marketing message is being crafted, whoever is crafting it may not hit the nail on the head the first time. Perhaps he was sloppy, but equally well it may have been an insufficient or unclear brief. That’s why the writer or the design team need a detailed dissection of WHY the suggestion didn’t fare.

Besides, it is totally irrelevant what your marketing team likes or does not like. What matters is what the target group thinks. Test, research, find out. Then adapt.