How to instill authenticity in your marketing message

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How many messages does an average person see these days? Depending on who you listen to, it can be anywhere from 600 to 5,000. Whether there is some factual basis for these numbers or whether they should be categorized as urban myths is up for grabs. However, between Twitter tweets and old fashioned newspaper ads, the fact that consumers are inundated with messages to the point of numbness has never rung truer. With a savvier consumer and a flood of brand messaging, you have an ever-narrowing window within which to get your message right if you want to truly connect with your customers. If you don't hit home on the first shot, you many never get another chance to turn a consumer into a customer, and a customer into a brand loyalist.

There's a famous saying, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." Take this deeply to heart when you create a message for your customer. Don't use the same old line you used in the past. Don't tweak a print ad to make it fit online. Edit it. Revise it. Re-think it. Take the time to get it right. 

One size does not fit all. Forget that your brand manager loves the old tried and true jingle. Think about where your customer is at the specific point in time that you want to reach them and then put yourself in their mindset when they will see your message. Whether it is a tweet or an old-fashioned television commercial, make sure your message is one that will stop consumers in their tracks and make them take action. 

If you need to start fresh and write a new message, then do it. If you need to split your idea into two messages, then do it. But if you think one broad message will work across a variety of media and at different points in your customer's lives, then your ad is just time and money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Start at the beginning with the two basic rules of effective advertising and make sure your message is a) simple and b) true. If you think this is easy, you may find it is actually harder than it seems, especially when you start trying to make it exciting, catchy, and actionable.

When you start to make a simple or true statement compelling, the concepts of "simple" and "true" quickly get lost on the way. Sales people want to add some glitz. Brand managers want to add value. The lawyers want to omit any hint of liability. Before you know it, your message is muddled to the point of being meaningless to the one person you were trying to reach. 

It is important to remember there is no grey area in today's marketplace; there is only black and white. Either your message is simple and true, or it is confusing and false. There is no "white lie." There are no "half-truths." There is no trying to fit one more thing into the message because your customer really cares about it.

Confused?  Read on and I will tell you the secret of how to do this. But before we go there, let's start at the beginning.

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M Aronson
M Aronson April 7, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Clear and to the point. Simplicity always rules. I agree, however as you said, it's getting there that causes me the most contemplation!