A Simple Exercise to Develop a Marketing Plan Template
What was the last advertisement that your company paid for? What was the format? Was it a television advertisement, a banner ad on a website, a brochure or something else?
How much money did you pay for the advertisement? You paid for the design time, of course, and the final product and, you paid for an ongoing run in certain time slots or at certain frequencies.
Now, here’s a question that’s possibly more important than all the others you just answered: How much did you pay for the development of the content? If you’re like a lot of businesses out there, you probably paid nothing for content. This is rather counterintuitive, since the medium is completely worthless if it doesn’t have the proper strategic message.
If you didn’t pay to have the content created, you probably had the content put together by whoever was available in the marketing department, the salesperson or the production department at the venue where you advertised and, of course, they probably looked over some of your existing (platitude-laden) marketing materials and created your ad based on that. They probably billed you for being a marketing consultant, to boot!
Think about this – the most important part of your advertisement – that is the content and the message – was assembled for FREE by people who typically have no earthly idea about how to create powerful, magnetic messaging in the first place.
Remember the axiom “You get what you pay for?” Do you see where I’m going with this? If you didn’t pay for anyone to create the content or message of your advertising, then you got what you paid for. You paid nothing; you got something that was, at best, worth nothing, and therefore worthless.
You have to think about your message whenever you think about marketing. Without seriously thinking about the message, you’re not marketing at all. If your marketing consultant isn’t thinking about the message, they’re not consulting.
Your message needs to be crafted with attention given to the content and the delivery of your message. You don’t have to concern yourself with where or how you’re going to say the message, just with what you’re going to say. When you have the right strategic message, then you can start thinking about what mediums might be good for delivering it, but don’t put the cart before the horse.
3 Things that Should Never Be Said in Marketing Content
(That I Can Guarantee You’ve Already Said)
What follows are three things that you should never say in your marketing. I can almost guarantee that, if you look at your marketing, you’ll find these things in them. These are common mistakes that marketers make. Unfortunately, if you use these forbidden phrases it will virtually guarantee your results will be dismal. The Strategic Marketing Program™ will help you to avoid these types of mistakes.
One clue that you may have these problems with your marketing is if you keep ending up in situations where you’re competing on price and nothing more. If you feel like you constantly have to reduce your prices—and, thus, your profits—it’s probably your marketing. Changing the message can make all the difference in whether or not you participate in a price war of attrition with every competitor in your local market.
Platitudes: Marketing is full of them, but it shouldn’t be. You probably have quite a few in your marketing already. Platitudes are words or phrases that are drearily commonplace and predictable that lack power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition – that nevertheless are stated as though they were original or significant. Despite this being the case, they are very common in marketing for all manner of companies and, to put it bluntly, these types of messages waste your prospects and customers time.
Here are some examples of platitudes that you might find in your marketing:
- Industry leader
- The lowest prices
- We strive to be the best
- Convenient location
- We specialize in…
- Experienced in…
- Voted #1 by XYZ
- Experts in…
- Highest quality
- Been in business since 700 B.C.
- Blah, blah, blah
None of these things are particularly bad, but they all have in common the fact that they are:
- Totally clichéd
- Probably untrue, or only partially true
- Always ignored
These are the types of things that you could say about just about any business out there. In fact, just about every business out there does say something along these lines about itself. These are also messages that offer no value to the person reading them. As for the untrue part; perhaps you do have the lowest prices, but if your competition institutes a program where they’ll beat any price, you’re now not only something of a fibber, you’re also a very dull fibber.
There are two guarantees that I can make you about platitudes:
- You use them.
- You’re not getting the kind of results from your marketing that you hoped, and you probably paid handsomely for that lack of results. The Strategic Marketing Program™ will change that for you.
Here’s an easy exercise to drive home the point. Take out a copy of the Yellow Pages, if you have one, or even look through some display ads in a newspaper or magazine. Of course, not many people rely on print advertisements anymore. This provides a good lesson, however. The same ineffective messaging you’ll find in print advertisements is equally ineffective in Internet advertising.
I’d put money on it that just about every single ad you find in the Yellow Pages or elsewhere is full of platitudes. It’s such a common mistake that it’s a given that most people are making it regularly. Your advertisements are likely full of the same ineffective content – and that’s a big problem.
Some people may feel that this type of advertising has given them acceptable results. This, in fact, may be true, but what if I could get you better results? What if, instead of your advertising making the same mistakes as everyone else’s, your advertisements stood out because the content was actually good. What if your copy was persuasive rather than just…there? What if your copy was so powerful, prospects could not ignore it?
Let’s go through a simple exercise. I want you to view your ads from your prospect’s point of view. Imagine you were a prospective customer of your business considering buying whatever it is you sell. Evaluate your own advertising. There are three evaluations that you can use to identify them.
Evaluation #1: “Well I would hope so!”
If you were considering going to a plastic surgeon and you saw an ad that said “Dr.Jameson is a board certified plastic surgeon.” Well I would hope so! As opposed to what, an uncertified plastic surgeon? A guy with a scalpel and some free time?
When you look for platitudes, look for statements that only say that the business or person behind the business has the obvious qualifications that you would expect.
Here’s another example: “Bonded and insured locksmith.” Well I would hope so! No kidding! Was anyone opening up the yellow pages looking for an uninsured locksmith who had no way to verify that they’re trustworthy?
These are obvious qualifications. If anything you read in an advertisement that is almost amusing because it wastes space on such obvious information, you’ve found a platitude. Here are some more, just for your consideration, and how they come off:
“Highly skilled network technicians”; as opposed to bumbling techs who have no idea of what they are doing?
Safe cab rides; as opposed to unsafe cab rides.
Expert services; as opposed to incompetent services.
Whenever you read, see or hear an ad, thinking from a prospect’s point of view, would you say to yourself “Well I would hope so!”
Take a look at your marketing and advertisements. Do you have any of these platitudes in your ads? If you do, you’re paying for space with absolutely no benefit.
Evaluation #2: Who Else Can Say That?
There are some things that any business can say. Most of the time, it’s because the claim is so broad that it’s impossible to verify or it’s a specific claim that isn’t something that a potential customer really cares about. You have the Best Barbecue in Texas? Really? Did you eat at every barbecue establishment and make that determination? Of course not! Your customers know as much. What’s more, every other barbecue restaurant in Texas can also claim to be the best barbecue restaurant in Texas; if you ask them, anyway.
The only real value that these statements have is in providing examples of really bad marketing. Otherwise, they’re boring, trite and obviously not true. Want to know how to test out your advertisements to see if you’ve made this mistake? Here’s how.
Read your ad copy and ask yourself if any other business could say the same thing. If your competition could say the exact same thing, you failed. If your advertising copy isn’t setting you apart in any way, you’ve wasted an opportunity. In fact, you’re advertising sounds just like everyone else’s does if you have these types of statements, and that means that you’re blending in with the crowd when you should be standing out.
Another common way that people abuse this advertising garbage is by pointing out that they’ve been in business for X number of years. So what? Anyone can point out that they’ve been in business for a certain period. You could, theoretically, have been a practicing dentist for 20 years and still be a bad dentist, too, so keep that in mind.
Platitudes are really boring, unconvincing and don’t do anything to make people want to visit your business. They’re right up there with watching paint dry and watching grass grow in terms of generating interest.
Evaluation #3: The Cross-out/Write-in test
Good writing is always about the subject at hand, meaning that it is not generic. Is your advertising copy completely generic and full of platitudes with your logo slapped on it? Let’s find out.
Take one of your advertisements and cross out your name. Now, write in the name of a competitor. Is what the advertisement says still true? If that is the case, the advertising copy has failed this test. Now, try it on your competitor’s advertisements by putting your name in place of theirs. Is the ad still valid? Is there no need for any significant editing? My guess is that there probably isn’t.
Remember: there is no restriction on saying that you have the best quality, that you’re the best business in town or that you treat your customers the best. Your competitors can say the same thing. For a potential customer, realize that this is the equivalent of having two plumbers in a room, both telling the customer that they can tighten a pipe. Of course they can. It’s true of both of them. The fact that they’re both saying it is just small talk that doesn’t persuade anyone, if a potential customer even bothers to read the copy at all. They very well may not, at least if they don’t like having their time wasted.
The Strategic Marketing Program™ addresses this head on. One of the first things we will do is take these wasted words out of your copy and replace them with specific messages that really reach out to your demographic. What we strive to do is separate you from your competition by focusing on ‘hot buttons,’ things that are important and relevant to your prospects so that you stand out and so that prospects literally cannot resist reading or listening more.
Whose fault is it when your marketing is fragmented, produces little or no measurable results and is virtually guaranteed to drain your bank account? I say it’s your ad agency’s fault. At Strategic Marketing Consultants we realize creating an effective marketing system is a significant investment for your company. We also know that your plate is full just running your business, not trying to learn how to market your business more effectively. That’s why we’ve committed ourselves to overcoming every problem you will face at any other ad agency – to ensuring you are not only better than any of your competitors, but that you out-market them as well. Please go to https://www.strategicmarketing-consultants.com/resources/free-reports to download your copy of this FREE report; even if you’re just thinking about changing your ad agency or marketing strategy, the report will show you the right questions to ask when the time comes.