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Marketing Tactics

5 Ways Words Can Destroy Your Marketing Messages (And How To Fix Them)

Use these copywriting tips to improve your marketing messages and ensure you don’t lose sales or money on your marketing investments.

Susan Gunelius

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If your marketing messages aren’t powerful and don’t speak to the right audiences, they won’t deliver the results you need. In other words, you’ll lose money on your investments, and you’ll lose sales. No business owner can afford that!

Words carry a lot of weight, and you need to use them wisely in your marketing messages. An experienced copywriter can craft messages that communicate effectively and motivate the audience to take action, but what if you can’t afford to hire a copywriter? What if you’re not sure the copywriter you’re working with is any good?

Fortunately, there are a number of theories you can learn and tools you can use to write better marketing messages yourself or to ensure the writer you’re working with is delivering quality copy.

Here are five ways words can destroy your marketing and simple ways you can fix them.

1You used too many words

Research has found that people have an attention span of just eight seconds, so you don’t have much time to get your message across to your audience. It’s even worse for younger audiences. Millennials have a five-second attention span for ads!

Bottom line, every word that isn’t necessary needs to be deleted from your copy or you run the risk of investing a lot of time and money into a marketing piece that people will ignore before they see or hear the call to action.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 2)

Get to the point! Here are three ways to do it:

K.I.S.S. rule of copywriting: Remove filler words from your copy to keep it simple. For example, words like “really,” “that” and “very” should be deleted without mercy. Don’t feel bad for these words. Delete them!

T.M.I. rule of copywriting: Don’t let your audience get bored or distracted as you weave a lovely story. If text doesn’t support the goal of the marketing piece, get rid of it. Remember, you only have five to eight seconds, don’t waste them!

Red pen rule of copywriting: Keep your copy succinct, and it will almost always be more powerful. Once you’ve written your messages, get out your red pen and delete at least 30 percent of it. The objective is to delete a significant amount of copy, because it’s likely what you delete doesn’t include your strongest messages. You’ll be left with something that actually drives the results you need.

2You used jargon

marketing-sign

Big words and jargon are rarely appropriate in ads and marketing materials unless you’re in a highly technical or regulated industry. Even then, your audience will probably prefer you leave the jargon out, or it just looks like you’re trying too hard.

One of the most important factors to write great marketing messages is understanding your audience and writing copy that speaks to them. It doesn’t matter if you love the word grassroots. If your audience won’t respond to it positively, leave it out. The last thing you want is for your audience to cringe when they read or hear your messages. That’s a guaranteed way to lose sales.

Review your copy and find the jargon or excessively big words. Do those words enhance the message and make it more meaningful to the audience or do those words interrupt the reader or listener? Unless jargon and big words have special places in your audience’s hearts, replace them with simpler words.

3You used the wrong pronouns

Great marketing messages speak about the audience, not just about the company behind the products or services being offered. Therefore, your copy should use second person pronouns (you, your, yours) far more often than first person pronouns (I, me, mine, we, us, our, ours).

The truth is no one cares about you. They care about how your products or services can help them or make their lives easier. This is the cornerstone of the fundamental rule of marketing, which says, “Your product or service is far less important than its ability to fulfill your customers’ needs.” If your messages only talk about you, they’ll fail.

Related: 5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs Content Marketing

To fix this problem, review your copy looking for every instance where you use first person pronouns and talk about your company rather than about consumers’ wants and needs.

Now, think about how you can turn messages that focus on you around and show how that information about your company actually benefits consumers.

For example, you might have 300 customer service agents, but why should a consumer care? That number is meaningless until you give it meaning. Instead, say the wait time to get help via phone is extremely low since there is always someone available to take the customer’s calls. Remember, copy should always focus on benefits, not just features.

4You used passive verbs

When you invest in an ad or marketing piece, you typically want it to drive some kind of action from an audience. It includes a call to action that should motivate people to actually take that action. However, making a simple mistake like using passive voice rather than active voice in your sentence structure could negatively affect the results.

In a passive voice sentence, the subject of the sentence receives the action of the verb (e.g., the ball was kicked by John), but in an active voice sentence, the subject of the sentence performs the action of the verb (e.g., John kicked the ball). Do you want people to take action or just think about taking that action? To elicit an active response from the audience, use the active voice in your copy.

Fixing this problem takes some sentence restructuring. Read through your messages and replace passive voice sentences with active voice sentences whenever possible. Keep in mind, adding a sense of urgency to your calls to action can boost results even higher. Don’t suggest an action, demand it – now!

5You didn’t use emotional words

Does your copy tap into the audience’s emotional triggers? If not, your results will be lower than they could be if you rewrote your messages to make people feel something. Copy that evokes emotional responses in consumers is almost always more effective than copy that does not. Why? Because most purchase decisions are ruled at least in part by emotions.

Related: 5 Extremely Effective Content Marketing Formats

Emotional triggers include fear, guilt, comfort, competition, trust and more. Follow the link for a great list of emotional triggers that you can use as a starting point to improve your marketing messages.

You can fix this problem in your messages by thinking about the benefits your product or service delivers to the target audience. Determine which benefits appeal to consumers’ emotional triggers and ensure messages related to those benefits and emotions are included in your marketing materials.

Know your next steps

Even if you don’t have the budget to invest in a great copywriter, you can improve your marketing messages by keeping the five ways words can destroy your copy in mind as you write. Follow the tips above to fix those problems, and you’ll be on your way to seeing bigger and better results from your marketing investments!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

With nearly 20 years of marketing, branding and copywriting experience, Susan Gunelius is also an entrepreneur.

Marketing Tactics

Top Marketing Trends For 2019

When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?

Emma Donovan

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Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or  influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.

The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:

1. Say hello to the social CEO

Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.

Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.

Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.

2. Initiate conversations

While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.

For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.

Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.

Related: Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?

3. Keep it local

Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit. 

4. Try Instagram ads

As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.

Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.

5. Personalise email communication

Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.

Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.

Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Post in real time

In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.

In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.

This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.

Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.

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Marketing Tactics

4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From

Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.

Jonathan Long

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Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.

Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Marketing Tactics

The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.

Kyle Rolfe

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The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.

In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:

  1. What products do they want?
  2. Where should you make them available?
  3. How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
  4. How and where to promote your product?

The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.


Airbnb example

Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb


1. Product

Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.

2. Price

While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.

Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.

3. Promotion

In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,

“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.

Related: How To Drive Customer Referrals (When You Aren’t Airbnb, Dropbox or Uber)

4. Place

Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.

In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline

“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),”  adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.

“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”

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