Deadly Arts Marketing Cliché #3: “We’re Wonderful!”

A commenter on my previous post took me to task for not proving that my book contained actual suggestions for solving the problems I’ve been describing here. He wondered if I might mention one of those solutions in a blog post so I’m going to mention one now that’s directly relevant to the cliché we’re talking about today.

If you want to avoid clichés, do this: Challenge yourself to make your next message as much about your audience as it is about you. Divvy up your copy and graphic space and make certain that a full 50% of it is about the audience. That means copy will have to focus on the people you’re trying to sell to as much as it does on your product, and half the graphic imagery will depict audience members rather than the stuff you want to promote.

If this sounds difficult, turn on your TV and watch a few commercials. What you’ll see is people using and enjoying the products that marketers are trying to sell. Those advertisers could just show the product and describe how wonderful it is, but they know that marketing is all about understanding what their customers want and illustrating how the product satisfies their desires.

I popped on the TV just now and the first commercial I saw was for my local AAA Auto Club. The copy talked about the services they offered but it used the word “you” a lot so it was constantly referencing the audience. And the screen images alternated between graphics that showed the products and live action shots of real customers talking in glowing terms about how the products gave them what they wanted.

If you try to make your next marketing message as much about the audience as it is about your product, you’ll probably discover three things:

1. You’ll need to know who you’re talking to. If you’re trying to attract new audiences, for example, you’ll have to know exactly who they are so when you talk about them in your materials you’ll be speaking to the right people.

2. You’ll need to know what your audiences want. If you’re trying to attract new audiences but you don’t know what they want, you’ll find it impossible to describe how your product satisfies their desires.

3. You’ll have to cut back on the self-congratulatory boasting because, in devoting half the message to your audience, you’ll have neither the room nor the need for all that empty bombast. If The New York Times thinks your show is wonderful, for example, but you’ve learned that your new audience doesn’t read or care about The New York Times, you’ll know exactly what to cut.

Our marketing traditions have encouraged us to shout, “We’re Wonderful!” at every opportunity and trust that there are enough people out there who care about our wonderfulness to meet our sales goals. But if blasting “We’re Wonderful!”at the marketplace is no longer sufficient to motivate fence-sitting audiences, we’re going to have to meet some new people, find out what they want and then talk with them about how our products will make them happy.


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