Not Just the Facts- Make your Marketing Work for You

by editor FinAndMarketing

Most people think that marketing is common sense - give ‘em the facts and your customers will come running, right?

This may be true if you’ve invented a truly revolutionary new concept like the Internet, but unless you’re Al Gore, you need to know that successful marketing requires a bit more than providing 'just the facts.'

Having written marketing materials for nearly fifteen years for clients operating in almost every imaginable sector, I’ve learned how to successfully promote products and services and how to create marketing materials that bring customers and get noticed. My best customers are those who’ve spent hundreds on expensive, poorly written marketing materials that have brought no results.

Whether you’re writing an introductory letter, a monthly newsletter, a press release or a brochure, consider the following before you bother typing out your text to send to your prospective customers:

First, define your audience. Who do you want to buy your product or service and why should they? What are the most important considerations they need to know before making the right decision (to buy, of course!)? What might their needs be?

Understanding your audience may require a little research, but taking the time to know your prospects before pitching to them increases your likelihood of success. Read a few web sites and blogs that your customers might visit, check out what your competition is (or isn’t!) providing, and consider your prospect’s likely mind frame. If you don’t, chances are, they’ll recognize you don’t understand their needs right away and won’t bother reading what you’ve written.

Next, determine your value proposition. A business writing survey I once attended claimed that every marketing piece should answer the following questions: who are the people (or company); what’s the opportunity; and what’s the deal? Think about it, if you were going to buy a product or service (even if it’s from the neighbor kid selling candy bars), wouldn’t you need this basic information before making a decision?

Think about why someone should hire you (versus your competition). What services do you provide that your prospects need and can’t get anywhere else? How much do your products or services cost and why are they a good value?

Define your goals. What do you want to accomplish with your marketing materials? Are you hoping to sign five to ten new customers? Sell advertising in your new magazine? Send users to your website?

Clear definition of your goals for each marketing piece will ensure your message’s clarity and should shape each of your language choices. Every sentence, every paragraph and every bullet point should work toward your defined goals, or be cut as extraneous information.

Now, the facts. These should be simple- what do you offer, how does it work, and why do your customers need it? Who else has bought your product or service and why do they like it best? Chances are, this is the information you know best.

Now that you’ve gathered all the important information and are sitting down to write- for goodness sake, keep it SHORT. (You can bet, even this article wouldn’t be half as long if 900+ words weren’t required!) Study after marketing study has shown that your audience bores easily and won’t stick around if you don’t get to the point quickly, or aren’t clear about what you are trying to communicate. Get right to the point in the first paragraph, all the rest is just details and most likely won’t keep them reading.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. No one wants to read a letter or brochure that requires a substantial time investment, just to decide whether or not to buy your product or service. And trust me, they won’t stick around to figure it out if you don’t get it right; or get right to the point. Here are some more tips to consider when writing:

*Use bullets or asterisks to make your point(s). Often, these are the only sections read by consumers.

*Don’t go crazy with formatting. Your potential customers are busy, your pitch shouldn’t be. While a clean, well-designed presentation looks professional, too many crazy fonts, underlining, bold and highlighting is distracting and your message gets lost. Use your words to make your impact.

*Give them a reason to buy! I like to include some sort of discount or freebie as a reward for purchasing as a result of my marketing materials. Sure, consumers will more likely act if they have a reason to (a delayed sale is a lost sale), but this also provides a simple way of tracking the performance of your marketing materials. If your marketing materials aren’t bringing you customers, stop wasting your money on them and try something else.

Last, but certainly not least, have your work professionally edited. Nothing turns off a reader more than simple typos or obvious grammar mistakes that make your products or services look less legitimate- make sure your work puts forth your best effort.

Ensure that your editor has true marketing expertise- someone who has written, edited or produced promotional work and understands its unique requirements. Consider this- how well has he/she marketed him/herself to you in their profile? (Are you compelled to choose them after “reading more”?)

Don’t assume your editor knows your audience better than you do- use the client comments field to tell him/her about your goals for the work and to provide your editor with details about your intended audience. Define your expectations for your editor. Do you want a simple typo/grammar check, or do you need more detailed critiques and analysis? Note any of your concerns about the piece as well.

You’ve taken the time and effort to develop your new widget or service, but you need a buyer if you want to be successful. They won’t buy if you haven’t successfully convinced them that they should. If you haven’t understood their needs, offered solid reasoning as to why they should buy, or given them enough information to make the right decision; trust me, they won’t. Spend your time and money to ensure you’re producing successful marketing materials, and reap the benefits.

Need help making your marketing work for you? Contact me today for a FREE quote.