Marketing Speak: How Effective Is It?

Do you ever get tired of candy-coating, creating euphemisms … i.e., marketing spin? I’m a journalist turned marketing writer, so I probably have a skewed perspective anyway. Sometimes, though, don’t you think just telling the truth is more effective than spinning it? Or candy coating it?

I once worked on content for a group that wanted to promote its online breast cancer risk assessment. Great cause. Great message, right? They didn’t want to use the term breast cancer other than to describe the assessment.

Why? Because it’s scary. Yes, breast cancer is scary. That’s kind of the point of the risk assessment.

As I found out writing copy for this campaign, if breast cancer is caught early, people survive. The earlier you take action, the better. The messaging loses that urgency when you replace the term breast cancer with breast health.

Another group I worked with kept trying to find the right catchphrase for its software. The company’s SEO was tragic because it kept changing how it spoke about its own product. It would change about every three to six months. The message would barely have a chance to hit the market before it changed again.

The organization’s competitors were killing them online because they chose a phrase, simple and direct, and through thick and thin, they stuck with it.

Marketing is in a world of hurt right now. We’re being asked to make the numbers instead of the sales team. And when we don’t? Well, it’s usually not good news for the marketing team.

Let’s think about marketing for just a moment. I’m in marketing and I feel that we often over-communicate, over-market at times. I understand having a presence, frequency, etc., etc. I’ve been at this long enough to understand some of it is just a numbers game.

The world, myself included, gets way too much marketing. I have to go through once a month and unsubscribe to tons of email campaigns because, by the end of each month, I’m getting hundreds of marketing emails a day – not to mention the ads on social media.

When your vision is filled with marketing speak, you become numb to it. You start to block out the ads. The appeal is no longer there. “It’s all a way to get me to buy something.”

Yes, it is a way to get you to buy something or do something or whatever the call to action is. But if you’re going to act on something, are you going to act on breast health or breast cancer?

Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but for me, I’m going to act on breast cancer … because it is scary.

If Content Is King, Authenticity Is Queen

Authenticity. When you’re a journalist you work with facts. Facts are authentic. You can’t deny facts. When you start candy-coating a subject that needs to be taken seriously, you become less authentic. You lose the seriousness of the situation.

And when you are buried in hundreds of emails, what’s going to stand out to you? Candy coating or truth? For me, it’s truth. I realize I’m making myself a focus group of one here, as one of my friends likes to say. At the very least, test it and see which performs better. That’s all I’m saying.

For a while, I felt like marketing was heading in a good direction. Authenticity was the name of the game. Now, we still claim authenticity, but it’s becoming highly diluted. Sweet and syrupy. Fun and creative.

These things can work and can be very successful. Authenticity can be successful, too. I don’t feel that business gives real authenticity a chance. Perhaps, if given the full ability to be authentic, it could be more successful than typical marketing speak.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 48 percent of US consumers trust businesses. That’s less than half who even trust companies. Admittedly, I’m one of them. I don’t trust companies either. This same article notes that social media is more of a hindrance for trusting in business, resulting in some folks vowing not to buy the company’s products ever again.

I think it’s time for the marketing field to take a look at itself. It’s time for us to grow and re-adjust. We need to get real for our client’s sake. Clients need to get real about their messaging.

We need to focus less on going viral and focus more on who we are and why we are here. That will appeal to more people than catchphrases.

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