In my line of work I get to see how companies all over the country handle their marketing, and it never ceases to amaze me how many companies can't accurately answer that question. More often than not, I see companies trying to tell their whole story rather than focus on obtaining the response they desire - or even worse, mish-mashing content together without planning out a call to action.
So, what is the real purpose of your marketing? To put it simply: action.
Regardless of the type of marketing you're doing, the goal is to get your prospects to take one or more of the following actions:
- Visit your location
- Call your business
- Visit your website
Sound too simple? It is. In fact, it's so simple that far too many companies miss the point and focus their marketing on selling their product or service instead of trying to initiate one of the actions above. Advertisements are not a sales team. As much as we'd like to think so, people don't buy from the marketing they see - they buy from you, either in person, over the phone, or through your website. So the main goal of your marketing needs to be getting your prospect to call you, visit your website, or come see you face-to-face.
Now that we know the purpose of your marketing, here's a few ways to make sure your marketing accomplishes it's goal:
- Simplify: The biggest mistake I see companies make is trying to cram everything they do or sell, along with their company history, founding date, and mission statement all into the same marketing piece. Yellow pages sales people like to call this "the more you tell, the more you sell" - and nothing could be further from the truth. When you're deciding what to put in your marketing materials, ask yourself this question: does this content make the prospect want to take action, or am I just telling my company's story? If all you're doing is telling your company story, save it for your corporate brochure or the "about us" page of your website. Then, when you think you have your message refined, set it aside for 24 hours or so and look at it again with "fresh" eyes. Is there anything that could be better?
- Space it out: Another downside to cramming too much info into your marketing materials is that you blend in with the noise. As humans, we all have a tendency to "zone out" - tuning out the noise and clutter around us. Most of us do it without even realizing we are. Radio and TV ads become background noise, magazine ads and direct mail pieces become a blur of text and photos as we flip through them, etc. So how do you make sure your marketing message gets noticed? One very effective way is the planned use of "white space" (or silence) - in other words, planning your marketing layout to leave as much blank page (called "white space") as possible. Seem counter-productive? Think about the last time you flipped through a trade magazine…if you caught a glimpse of a page that appeared partially blank, wouldn't you look more closely at it to see if the magazine made a mistake? Another example would be if you were listening to the radio on the way to work, and suddenly heard a second of complete silence. Initially your attention would immediately turn to the radio thinking that maybe something was wrong, but by that time the commercial has started at now has your attention instead of being mere background noise. So instead of cramming in everything you can, simplify your message (as described above), and space it out to cut through the clutter we are all bombarded with on a daily basis.
- Specify: What do you want your customer to do? Call? Come see you? Visit your website? Don't assume that they will figure that out. Tell them. Make it clear what you want them to do by developing an effective call to action. If you tell them what you want them to do, and give them an effective reason to do it, you'll find yourself getting better response from your marketing.
By focusing your marketing on the action you want your customer to take, instead of trying to tell your company story or trying to cover the entire sale of your product or service, you'll find yourself enjoying better response rates and a greater return on your marketing investment.
What about you? What are some of the ways you've been successful focusing your marketing on action rather than content?