Four Signs That Your Marketing Messages are Awful

Jon FriedmanTips of the Trade

Most marketing messages are awful.

That’s not surprising, because it’s darn hard to create compelling marketing messages. Very few companies do a good job of it.

But it’s a shame, because you don’t need creative brilliance or flashes of genius to produce great marketing messages. What you need is a structured process that pulls together insights about your product, target audiences, and competition.

In this post we will look at four signs that your marketing messages are awful, or at least need a lot of work. In the next entries in this series we will look at what makes for great marketing messages and outline a structured process you can use to develop them.

What is a marketing message?

A marketing message is a short statement about why a reader or viewer should be interested in a product, service, or solution. (For brevity’s sake we will use “product” for all of these.)

The main purpose of a marketing message is to grab the attention of members of the target audience and motivate them to continue reading, viewing, or otherwise engaging with the vendor.

For technology products, you typically find a marketing message in the first paragraph of product brochures and data sheets, on the product’s main web pages, in the first or second paragraph of press releases and social media posts about the product, and at the beginning of ads and emails promoting the product.

Marketing messages can resemble a classic “elevator pitch,” but there can be multiple marketing messages for each product, addressing different target audiences and different benefits.

Four signs that your marketing messages are awful

Here are four signs that your marketing messages are awful, or at least need a lot of work.

1)    Your messages are full of jargon

Do your messages sound like the output of engineers who love technology but can’t relate technical features to business issues? That’s okay if your audience is made up 100% of engineers. But if the audience includes managers and non-technical users, they won’t understand the value of the product. Jargon can also be intimidating and discourage non-technical people from following up.

2)    Your messages are full of buzzwords

Do your messages sound like the work of a public relations person who uses buzzwords to cover up a lack of knowledge about the product? Do they invoke the same management cliché (actionable, immersive, transformative, disruptive) or hot technical term (AI, AR, VR, 3D, IoT, 5G, big data, blockchain, cloud-something, mobile-anything) that everyone else is using this year? If so, how will the audience know that your product is different from and better than all the others?

3)    Your messages highlight “nice to haves,” not “must haves”

Are your marketing messages “motherhood and apple pie”: promoting features and benefits that are unquestionably useful for many audiences, but not compelling for any one of them? Marketers want to address the broadest possible audience, but this impulse can be counterproductive, because very few customers today can afford to invest in “nice to haves.” Also, many organizations don’t really know the market segments for which their product is a “must have” (we will talk about this later).

4)    People at your company are using different messages

Many individuals in your company communicate regularly with customers and prospects: marketers, salespeople, executives, product managers, engineers, support representatives, and others. Are these people saying different things about why your products are great? Then they are confusing customers. Worse, the official messages created by marketing aren’t very effective. If they were, people wouldn’t be improvising their own.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, where we’ll take a look at what makes a great marketing message.

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