Bringing Your Client From Bad to Good

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” — David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard.

Last Thursday, after everyone was asleep, I got caught up in reviewing marketing campaigns that were colossal failures. I became horridly fascinated by bad marketing.

Search Google for “bad marketing” sometime. It’s informative, alarming, and disturbingly funny.

Spending hours watching bad campaigns starts as an amusing pastime. It stops being funny when you see how bad marketing hurts shareholders, employees, and customers. Companies go out of business because marketers do a terrible job. It’s really not funny.

And we don’t want to be a part of it.

Do we want to be copywriters who have stacks of samples — all from companies that went out of business? That wouldn’t really boost our credibility, would it?

Fortunately for us, it’s statistically unlikely that we’ll be participating in horrible marketing campaigns. Marketing quality is distributed according to the bell curve — there’s a small number of terrible campaigns, a few brilliant campaigns, and thousands of mediocre campaigns.

We’re much more likely to be associated with mediocre than bad. But studying bad marketing can help us push mediocre marketing toward good marketing.

Often corporate marketing teams produce marketing that isn’t good. There are many reasons for that — in most companies, everybody has an opinion, everybody wants to have a say, and everybody thinks their "focus group of one" is more important than the actual target audience. Bright ideas get dumbed down and pace often trumps purpose.

Have you ever wondered why companies with huge marketing teams hire agencies? That’s because outsiders often bring clarity and new ideas that result in quality improvements. As an outsider, you can bring a breath of fresh air to their marketing that lifts their efforts and takes them from mediocre to good.

But there are a few ‘tricks of the trade’ I’m implementing this week, as I balance two very large projects, to ensure that my marketing is as good as it can be.

#1: Study the competition. What are they saying? What aren’t they saying? How are they saying it? Do some analysis and give it to your client. All too often, your competition is saying exactly what you’re planning to say. Do you want to be the same, or do you want to say something different?

#2: Get deeply entrenched with what you’re marketing. Try to organize subject matter expert interviews, conversations with customers, chats with salespeople, and dig into everything you can uncover about your product. If you can get your hands on the product, hold it, shake it, smell it, keep it on your nightstand, and take it on vacation. How can you market something you haven’t seen?

#3: Write down every single fact about your product. And then rank them in order of importance to buyers and influencers. Make sure your client agrees with your ranking. Work to separate “core capabilities” from “nice to have but not essential” facts.

#4: Test, test, test. Write 20 headlines and bounce them around with peers. You need to test what you write — make sure it gets bounced around among peers and friends before you submit it.

#5: Edit, edit, edit. It’s amazing how many corporate marketers implement the first thing they’ve written. It’s easy to look at corporate websites and find typos, awkward phrases, weak headlines, missing proof points, or poor calls-to-action. Don’t do that.

In short, I’m trying to implement a higher standard of due diligence. As professional writers, we have standards to uphold. What tools and tactics do you use to move client marketing from mediocre to good?

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Published: September 17, 2012

1 Response to “Bringing Your Client From Bad to Good Marketing”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article and I would like you to know that I really enjoyed reading it.

    The key is to ask for feedback from not just your shareholders, but also your stakeholders.

    You can ask for feedback based on surveys and questionnaires.

    Suggestion boxes can be placed in strategic locations both inside your company and in places where you target audience tends to congregate.

    Later, brainstorming sessions can be conducted and the bright ideas can be held up to scrutiny.

    In this game, you never know what works and what will not work because creativity is about the element of surprise.

    Archan MehtaSeptember 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm


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