Monday, May 09, 2005

Marketing communications isn’t brain surgery

Marketing communications isn’t brain surgery. Know your audience, address your audience, and serve their wants and needs, not yours.

So why do so many people mess this up?

At a meeting recently I was asked to comment on a colleague’s website. Another attendee thought it was fabulous. Me, the more I looked at it, the more I found wrong with it. Overlong, bulky, unclear, poorly designed and badly punctuated – and that was just the main headline on the home page!

Then there were the grainy pictures that had nothing to do with the adjacent copy, the lacklustre menus with the vague names, the lack of focus, the three blurbs that seem to define what he does but had no discernible link (logical, HTML or otherwise ) to any other part of the page…

The discussion went on for half an hour, as we discussed various copy, content, branding and design flaws, and why they matter so much.

As the entrepreneur explained what he had done, it became clear that he had made most of his content decisions based on his own druthers – things he wanted to see on his website, whether or not they made sense to his audience (or enhanced his image). The result, predictably, was a mish-mash of messages, poor quality photos, and vague benefits, if any, to his customers and prospects. It was clear that he was putting his own needs first, not those of his target market.

And as another commenter mentioned, the site failed to communicate TOT: The One Thing that makes this entrepreneur unique, and distinguishes his products and services from everyone else in this cookie-cutter world. It was good advice, and should be heeded by all: What is your TOT, and how do you communicate it?

I’m not sure if we achieved a consensus at the end. But I did get a light-hearted death threat from the entrepreneur, who seemed to feel I was targeting him, rather than his choice of words and pictures. A few days later, though, we got an e-mail saying he had taken our comments to heart, and would be working on fixes.

I’ll let you know how he does.

1 comment:

Geoff said...

As they say in the movie, City Slickers:

Curly: You know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: This. (Curly holds up one finger.)
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean s**t.
Mitch: That's great, but what's the one thing?
Curly: That's what you've got to figure out.