With apologies for the minor hiatus, I’m back to marketing communications this week. This time, I’d like to talk about something that gets overlooked quite a bit when we talk about all the big buzzy things marketing communications folks like to talk about: the actual words we’ll use.
We marketing-types can talk all day about key messaging and message formation. We talk about channels and vehicles. We talk social media marketing, mobile marketing and, one of my favorites, content marketing. We debate metrics and discuss demographics.
But far too infrequently in the mortgage and real estate services industry do we really think through the actual words we use to tell our corporate story until we’re down to the details (or later). For my money—and maybe it’s just the copywriter in me talking here—we give our choice of verbiage short shrift way too often. Just as our key message must be the perfect link between our unique value proposition and the market’s needs, the words we use to convey that message must be carefully tailored; not pulled out of a copy wasteland of clichés and jargon.
Here are a few ways to ensure that the best planned key message doesn’t shatter on the breakwaters of our targeted in-boxes:
Plain language, please! For some reason, too many in our industry still feel it’s not really copy until we’ve added the requisite amount of jargon. Here’s the scoop. In 2011, a customer will not feel your business is unqualified to help him, her or it solely because your web site didn’t use the term “leveraged” often enough. Cliché copy is bad copy, and it says absolutely nothing.
No more words! Ever see an ad or marketing piece that looked like the legal department wrote it? That’s probably because they did. In 2011, we are inundated with words, phrases and information. As such, we are collectively glazing over when confronted with large amounts of text. So, when a marketing parcel we didn’t ask for in the first place (e-mail, postcard, flyer) crosses our desk hauling hundreds or thousands of words behind it, we tend to pitch/delete/ignore it. Concise copy is good copy.
Boring words: Where is it written that B2B copy must be boring and conservative? I get that some traditional principles still do apply, and that some tactics just won’t work in that environment (sex doesn’t ALWAYS sell), but the B2B prospect is still a person, with a lot to do. Perhaps if we gave that prospect something more interesting than our product specs in a first impression piece, we’d even get him/her to read the whole thing!
Consistency is not redundancy: Marketing communications 101 teaches us that we need consistency in any brand message to ensure response. Just remember that consistency does not mean our message must be monolithic. Now, more than ever, the recipient of what appears to be the exact same message over and over won’t be around the next time you send it his or her way.
Building a marketing strategy can be invigorating. It’s easy to get lost in the planning of channels and timing and vehicles. But even the best laid marketing plan won’t get too far if the words and phrases you use aren’t up to snuff.