If there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there must be at least that many ways to screw up your marketing message. However, since time and space are both at a premium, I’ll limit this diatribe to my top 4.
TMI (Too Much Information)
There’s a term for a document that says everything there is to say about your product. It’s called a user manual. Your marketing materials shouldn’t read like user manuals. In fact, you should be quite intentional in your efforts to not say everything there is to say in your marketing materials.
A brochure, flyer or email is only intended to be an appetizer, not an entrée. You want to leave the reader hungry for more information. In other words, you want to leave them with questions that can only be answered by a live human being, a.k.a., a salesperson. Because that’s where sales actually happen.
TMW (Too Many Words)
What’s worse than a piece of marketing collateral that reads like a user manual? One that reads like Gone With the Wind. If using a lot of words to provide too much information is a misdemeanor, using a lot of words to provide no information at all is a Class A felony.
It reminds me of that Peter Gabriel song: “The place where I come from is a small town. They think so small, they use small words. But not me, I'm smarter than that. I worked it out. I'll be stretching my mouth to let those big words come right out.” Nobody will be impressed by your big mouth or your big words.
PWW (Poorly Written Words)
If you took the number of people I’ve met who can write well and multiplied that by eleventy jillion, you’d have the number of people I’ve met who think they can write well. Some may not believe quality of writing is important, but others do.
Think of it this way: If you settle for mediocre writing, you may only offend a small percentage of your readers. However, if you insist on top-notch writing, I guarantee you won’t offend any of your readers. Nobody has ever read a brochure and thought to themselves, this is written too well; I don’t wanna do business with these guys.
NED (Not Enough Differentiation)
Marketing isn’t about convincing anyone that you’re good. It’s only about convincing buyers that you’re better than anybody else in your space. In other words, the whole point of marketing is to differentiate your organization and your products from those of your competitors. If you’re using the same language as your competitors, you’re wasting your time.
Everybody is guilty. These three introductory paragraphs are from the websites of the three big core processing providers.
#1. <redacted> combines the broadest portfolio of account processing solutions with the industry's most experienced team of financial services professionals to help credit unions find the right solution to achieve their goals.
#2. <redacted> empowers community, mid-tier, large and global financial institutions to meet customer needs, contend with regulatory pressures and effectively compete with alternative providers. With a wide range of options, <redacted> can design and implement a fully integrated core system or complement your legacy system with critical components to transform your existing investment.
#3. A leading provider of integrated technology platforms banks need to process financial transactions, automate business processes, & manage mission-critical customer and business information.
Blah, blah, blah. Can you tell one vendor from the next? I can’t. Be smarter than they are. Tell the world how and why you’re different. Make your words count.