In a noted study, the prestigious Wharton School Of Business concluded that it’s not what you spend that counts, or even necessarily where your ads appear, rather it is the MESSAGE that is the prime determinant of success or failure in marketing and advertising.
Businesses today often spend more effort deciding where to run their ads, how fancy to make their website, and when to send email campaigns, than they do in developing a clear, concise, and compelling marketing message. And without a compelling message, your marketing won’t work!
And when they do create a message and communicate it to their target market, it is often one that does not differentiate their business from their competitors.
A study of venture capitalists came to some very pointed conclusions. The most cited reason for business failure was the lack of a sound marketing strategy and plan.
Second was the inability to articulate the Value Proposition or Brand Statement (both are often used as synonyms for marketing message). In other words, you may have a great product or service, but don’t know how to get people to buy it.
This is where the science and art of Copywriting comes in.
You’re in business to serve the needs of your customers and make their lives better – but you’re also in business to make your bank account grow and make your life, and your family’s, better.
So, given the importance attached to your marketing message(s), it makes sense to do everything you can to get it right.
Let’s first attack the elephant in the room. The term “marketing message” is tossed about , here, there, and everywhere, so that – in my experience – many business owners and a heck of a lot of copywriters cannot adequately define it. Yet, they don’t ask and don’t tell. That fuzziness stops here and now.
We’ll start with what a marketing message is NOT and go right into what it is.
I define a marketing message as: “A fairly Short, Simple, Unique statement of the Benefits the Buyer Gets from your product or service, that Only You can deliver.
Not if you’re a really good copywriter it won’t.
Copywriters are trained to “write tight”, that is to use as many words as necessary to accomplish the job…but not one word more. Famed writer George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) said, “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”. Especially in your marketing message.
Want some examples? Following are seven you may be familiar with. As you go through them, I’d like you to focus on how long (how many words) the writers needed before they got to the Benefits. Even though most are decades old, it amazed me how they conform to a strategy that’s only been around our copywriting community for a few years. Great copywriting is timeless. Here they are.
I hope you noticed that six of them needed five words or less to get to the benefits, while Levy’s needed only seven.
We are now well into the internet era, and people’s attention span has decreased from well over a minute to fourteen seconds in 2014, to a mere 8 seconds today.
If that sounds ridiculous, I agree. In fact, the attention span of a goldfish was measured at…ready for it…NINE seconds. When a person is reading your marketing message you have about 2 seconds to grab their attention so they instantly understand that there’s something in that message that can benefit them. And in 2 seconds an average reader can read five short words.
I like the quote from Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire: “Show me the money”. So, I say to you, “Show them the benefits”.
They’re classics. But what have YOU – a modern copywriter done?
Fair question. It’s important for you to know that anyone with training and a solid understanding of the company they’re writing for, can do this. In fact, the Allstate marketing message – “You’re in good hands with Allstate”, was suggested by a company salesperson in 1950. Seventy-four years later, it’s still going strong. (I hope he or she got a heck of a bonus.)
Next, we have seven examples of my own copy that meet our definition, five of which are for small, local businesses.
I’ll be the first to tell you, it’s not easy. But it ain’t rocket science, either.
[Interested in seeing more of my work? Go here.]
A fairly Short, Simple, Unique statement of the Benefits the Buyer Gets from your product or service, that Only You can deliver.
But can’t your competitors do the same thing?
Frequently, yes. They might be able to do the same thing… BUT they can’t SAY the same thing. “Me Too” marketing invariably fails because you were first in the market! If you have my latest 2023 book, you may want to re-read page fourteen about Rosser Reeves’ Unique Selling Proposition. [Author’s Note: My first writing job was with Mr Reeves’ agency – I learned a boatful in a few short years.]
Now we come to what you’ve been (I hope) waiting for: how you can create your own unique marketing message.
If your business survives on selling goods or services – pretty much everyone – you need to develop a compelling marketing message. Not for just the marketing and sales staff or the owner. But for everyone.
Make it short. Make it simple. And make it true. Here are four steps you can take now to develop a killer marketing message for your business. Don’t try to do it all yourself, get input from your friends, family, and most importantly, your staff.
And remember: if you can’t find your uniqueness…then it’s time to innovate!
Determine in what meaningful way(s) you are different from your competition (Unique Selling Proposition or USP) and what hard evidence you have to prove it.
And if you think you can’t differentiate – think again. Sunkist created a huge and successful business because they differentiated a Sunkist orange from all the other oranges in the world. So don’t tell me your business can’t differentiate itself. Acceptance of their brand grew, and customers associated the Sunkist brand with quality. Now, Sunkist has licensed its name to other companies, like Seven Up.
So, let’s have no foolish talk about “my product has been commoditized”.
Be customer focused – not company focused. Create your marketing message (value proposition) to communicate buyer benefits to the reader. Remember, virtually all consumers – B2B or B2C – listen to that great radio station of the mind, WII-FM – What’s In It For Me?
So, tell them.
“If you want to know Why John Smith Buys what John Smith buys, you need to see the world through John Smith’s eyes.” If you don’t know the answer to why they buy from you, here’s a novel marketing idea. Ask them.
And believe them.
Craft a succinct, effective, “killer” message for each differentiating factor you discover about your business, products, or services. Use power words, not weakling words – and do your best to follow my “Five words to Benefits” formula.
Once you’ve all agreed on the nuts and bolts of your marketing messages, turn it into a series of statements everyone can easily memorize and use (over and over again) with your customers, prospects, vendors and friends until everyone knows why they’d be an absolute fool not to do business with you.
Do all this and you’ll create great marketing messages, and the sun will shine, and the birds will sing. Gloryoski.
See you in the Winners’ Circle.