Marketing Messages vs Real Communication

There’s a lot of questionable business advice out there. And one of the most standard pieces of advice is that you need to come up with lots and lots of marketing messages.

The term itself, “marketing messages,” can strike fear and trigger avoidance in the hearts of business owners everywhere. That’s because it conjures the image of bunch of catchy slogans, taglines and/or one-liners about how their business is the greatest. Business owners (or their marketing people) sit in a conference room, make a list of one-liners that sound like one-liners they’ve heard other businesses use, and then start pasting these inspired or not so inspired phrases on their website, in their slide decks, in their corporate bios… and consider the exercise a pat-on-the-back success.

According to a study from the American Marketing Association, recent studies have shown that “the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day.” Still other organizations & researchers claim that people are exposed these days to as many as 60,000 brand messages a day. Now no one can truly absorb this many messages in a day – so people have become very good at automatically tuning out information that isn’t immediately useful to them or put into a context that applies to them in their lives.

If you’re using meaningless phrases, making vacant promises, or otherwise displaying shortcut thinking in your slide decks, bios, website, and other channels, you’re going to have a harder time establishing legitimacy with potential clients. Instead, you’re signaling that you can’t provide or communicate anything of substance.

That panic about marketing messages – maybe the fear it strikes in the heart of business owners is there to serve as a little signal from their intuition – a signal saying that the “marketing messages” aren’t feeling authentic, and that those messages that they aren’t going to get them where they really want to go.

Buzzwords will fail you.

Alternatively, when business messaging provides value, is helpful and real, you won’t feel salesy or spammy, because you’re not selling – you’re providing value.

With specialization in the global economy, and the transparency that the internet delivers, you must get specific about who you serve, what you do, and how you do it – if you want to position yourself as an authority in your field and stand out from other service providers. That’s a far different set of messages than “At our consulting company, we believe that only by acting boldly, will we enable profound, lasting change.” I don’t want to know that you act boldly – I want to know how you can help me.

While corporate cultures tend to evolve their own language about what they do, it is important to remember that just because you understand an acronym or an advanced term, that doesn’t mean someone who isn’t you does. Your clients are people who aren’t you, don’t have your expertise, and perhaps even don’t know what they don’t know. That means your job is to explain terms that refer to different concepts, theories, processes, etc specific to your professional expertise so non-experts, your potential clients, can both understand them and the expertise you bring to the table. Part of your job and further, your success, will be helping them understand.

If you don’t stand out from other service providers, the only thing that differentiates you from them is cost; and that means it’s a race to the bottom on pricing, where whomever has the lowest cost, wins. If you’re obscuring your services and feeding people empty marketing messages instead, you’re also losing customers.

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