April 20, 2006

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It's Not About You The object of every marketing communication is to prompt action. The action can be to remember a name, a price or a point of view. The action can be to call or click or clip. But if there’s no action, you’re dead. The only way to do this is to focus entirely on who needs to act and what will motivate them. Everything else is a waste of time and money. Yet the vast majority of messages are egocentric. They are all about the company, the products and the features. They are usually filled with either chest-beating or me-too claims that satisfy sellers’ needs and expectations and turn off buyers. The result – huge investments in ads, direct mail, e-mail and online campaigns that make marketers happy but never pay off or pay out. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 5 years, you know that power and control in the world of media and messaging has changed. Buyers control the time, place, device and messages they want to see or hear. They control what gets in and what gets filtered out. And they are a ruthless bunch. To increase the likelihood that your message will get some attention, consider these basic creative rules Make everything about the target audience. Understand who they are and what they care about. Present the benefits to them early and in language they understand and respond to. Tell them what they win by doing business with you. Keep it short. Attention spans are short. Everyone is multi-tasking. You’ve got 15-20 seconds to get attention. Don’t squander it. Say the most important benefit first. Then say it again in a punchy way. Focus exclusively on the intended action. You’ve got 15 seconds to get someone to do something. Everything you do has to drive to that action. Anything that doesn’t encourage taking that action has to go. If they don’t take the action, you’re out of the game so you must be a merciless editor. Eliminate anything that could distract a reader, viewer or listener from the intended goal. Make it easy to take the action. Make the button, the coupon or the link big, easy to see in a bold color. Separate it with white space. Put it high up on the page. Drive the eye to the goal line. Limit the choices to do anything other than take the required action. Customers expect easy, fast, intuitive choices. Give them what they want. Show them what you want them to do. Be Real. Familiar, savvy, realistic language beats corporate-speak. Colorful language beats plain vanilla. Customers aren’t navel-gazing the way marketers and managers are. They aren’t worried about every implication, nuance and liability. They are barely there and barely paying attention. So you have to grab them quickly and convey your meaning plainly in terms they immediately can understand, process and act on.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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