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Customer: "Just the Facts, Ma'am!"

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 13, 2015 2:42:00 PM / by Jeff Thomas

honest marketing is the best policy

In the "good old days" of marketing and advertising, copywriters were compelled to constantly herald the merits of their products to customers with increasingly flowery and dramatic terms. Words like:

  • Excellent
  • High-quality
  • Outstanding
  • Innovative
  • Extraordinary
  • Groundbreaking
  • Amazing
  • Cutting edge
  • Breakthrough
  • Revolutionary
  • Leading
  • State-of-the-art
  • Next generation
  • One-of-a-kind
  • Etc., etc.

Then there is the all-dreaded "technical-speak." This usually results from an engineer writing or editing the copy, or insisting that the target customer needs to know all of the details. Certainly, there are some contexts in which detailed technical information is needed and appropriate... but it is almost NEVER in a marketing piece. Technical-speak is usually filled with jargon (that only the closest insiders in the industry really know), consists of complex sentence structure (to impress), and offers way too much detail. It most often talks about how something works, rather than how it helps.

Sometimes, you'll find both mistakes being made in the same marketing material. It says how innovative and groundbreaking it is, then speaks at such a technical level that you have to read it four times just to understand it.

What's The Result?

  • The public has become jaded, skeptical and impatient, and it finds both mistakes to be a turn-off.
  • They have grown tired of glossy-brochure-speak, and impatient with technical-speak.
  • They want common language.
  • They want simple, straightforward conversation.
  • They don't want to hear that it's "simply the best," rather, they want to know what it does, and how it's different.
  • They refuse to "study" a marketing piece just to understand what the thing is saying.
  • They just want to know what it looks like, or tastes like, smells like, how it works, how it feels, how it helps them, how much it costs.
  • They want you to be honest.

What if someone marketed a product or service with the truth?

For example:

"We sell pretty much the same stuff everyone else does. We're not particularly faster or better. But we're quite a bit cheaper than the competition, and our staff is really friendly (they are non-union, and they really need their job). So please consider buying from us!"

Or even something along the lines of:

"Unfortunately, our service is occasionally a bit slow. Because we put so much effort into getting it 'just right', and because we test everything just to make sure, we take a little longer than others do. And because the end product is so good, we have a lot of business, and therefore we take a little longer so we can perform just right for everyone. So if you don't mind waiting, we KNOW you'll be happy with the outcome!"

Or do you think consumers would rather hear...

"We have the highest-quality, most innovative, and creative products on the market today. Our groundbreaking, advanced processes and extraordinary service make us the premier company in the industry... maybe even the world!"

... just to discover later than they have so-so products and provide mediocre service at best?

The Takeaway

The branding and messaging of tomorrow will likely necessitate a new kind of candor, because it's clear that increasingly, as consumers, we just want the facts!

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Topics: Branding & Messaging

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