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Monday, Sep. 17, 2007

“You Ain’t All That!” — A Marketing Copy Autopsy, Part 2

By Jeff Sexton
September 17th, 2007

bullseye.jpgMy last piece began with jargon-filled marketing copy and ended with clear, customer-focused copy. The problem was that the “clear” copy lacked emotional punch. My promised solution was to compensate for that through stronger emotion. This article is where that happens.

Notice I said compensate; not “overcome” or “fix”. A powerful message with mediocre copy beats a weak message with world-class copy any day. But if nobody in your market has a powerful message, a par-for-the-industry message with stronger emotion can make you king of that particular molehill – at least until someone with the guts to create a truly valuable business steps up to replace you.

Now, let’s run through some steps for creating higher-impact emotional copy…

Step 1: Find the Source of Your Prospect’s Fear, Uncertainty and Dobt

In this case, a reasonable assumption is that tech managers who don’t understand the power of marketing, or don’t think they need help with it, will never arrive at the example Website. If they think superior technology sells itself, it’s unlikely they’re looking for marketing help.

So for this Website, our copy will mostly be aimed at the technical product managers who actually realize that, yeah, marketing does make a difference.  So why don’t these people just go out and just hire someone?  If they’d like to get marketing help, but haven’t yet, what’s holding them back?

Hmm… It could be:

  • Cost — “We just don’t have the money.”
  • Fear — “They might end up dumbing-down my achievements.”
  • Fear — “They’ll bury what’s really cool about our technology under a pile of marketing jargon. (Hey, if they do it to their own site…)”
  • Anxiety — “They’ll steal the credit and glory for the success of our products.”
  • A lingering, subconscious belief that they can’t do much to help. “The better product wins in the end, and we’re not it.”

It could be any number of reasons, but it’s clear that a need isn’t being satisfied.

Step 2: Find a mental image that reaffirms that preconception in order to establish its limits.

Congratulations. You’re probably sitting on every tech manager’s dream: an objectively better technology that’s positioned to kick the crap out of the competition. Yet you’re smart enough to know that marketing still matters. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.

Notice how I’m speaking directly to the customer we defined in Step 1…

Perhaps you don’t even want to know what it may have felt like to be the brand manager for Betamax, Amiga Computers, IBM’s OS2, or Apple’s Newton. Maybe you’re worried about hiring some marketing “expert” with a fancy suit and a mouth full of jargon who won’t help anybody — let alone the customer — understand anything better than your company already does on its own.

With that last paragraph, I’ve encapsulated the fears which drove them to this site in the first place with clear examples — examples that, with any luck, will kill the “better mousetrap” mythology in their minds. Then I touch on what’s holding them back, while poking fun at my own industry.

Step 3: Introduce an image that expands the paradigm

Franky Frankly, we don’t blame you. Still, you need people from outside your fold to translate your product’s advantages into compelling, emotional reasons to buy. You need someone to help you tell your story, so that it can act as a vehicle for your technology’s success.

OK, so if that seems a little clunky (it does to me), know that we’ll edit later. Right now, we’re just getting ideas down on paper. I’m just trying to introduce the metaphor of marketing = vehicle for success. Marketing = stories that draws in an emotional, fickle market that sometimes slits the throats of better mousetraps.

Step 4: Show how this new image better matches the “real” self-image of the client

Now let’s put things back together again, polish ‘em up, and see what we have:

Congratulations. You’re sitting on every tech manager’s dream – an objectively better technology

Its specs kick the crap out of the competition, but you’re still smart enough to know that marketing matters.

You’re here because you never want to know what it’s like being the ex-brand manager for Betamax, Amiga Computers, OS2 Warp, or Apple’s Newton.

Still, you’re worried about hiring some marketing “expert” with a fancy suit and a mouth full of jargon who won’t help anybody — let alone the customer — understand anything better than your company already does on its own. Frankly, we don’t blame you. You’re not looking for hype. You need people to craft messaging that will bridge the gap between superior technology and triumphant success.

A great story makes the difference between the Apple Newton and the iPod.

If you’re approaching a new campaign or product launch, we can help through our:

  • Proprietary methodology for conducting customer research,
  • Messaging that’s proven to speak to customer desires.
  • Ability to train your sales team to follow-up on your messaging – translating corporate marketing to “street level” sales conversations.
  • And next-generation strategies for going to market that move beyond event-based product launches.
  • Since 1994, we’ve produced successful messaging for over 150 enterprise technology companies, including BEA Systems, Hyperion, Mercury, Oracle, Peoplesoft, SAP, Sungard and WebEx.

    Congratulations, you’re sitting on every savvy tech manager’s marketing dream.

    [Editors note: the author of this post is now blogging at jeffsextonwrites.com]

    Add Your Comments

    Comments (9)

    1. Who’s Franky? :)

    2. Good point, Brian. Typos hurt credibility.

      Another good point: Listen to your audience and adjust. ;)

    3. Thanks for these two articles. The transformation from jargon to real-world marketing story is amazing.

    4. Nicley modelled lessen! I have been through several of Roy Williams classes in Austin and this was as well presented as anything there. Excellent thread of really thnking about what you are communicating, over just writing.

      I am bummed that the holy brothers of the web are doing an affordable interactive session in Austin, AT CHRISTMAS!!! The December dates preclude my attendance. I am in the custom jewelry business and cannot be gone then!

      Craig

    5. Craig – I feel badly that you can’t attend.

    6. What event is this? I couldn’t find any info.

    7. Jeff, you’re definitely on the right track–but now let’s try changing the copywriting at the bottom from we-focused to you-focused and shift from feature-focus to benefit-focus. These changes will make it that much more compelling. So instead of

      [If you're approaching a new campaign or product launch, we can help through our:

      # Proprietary methodology for conducting customer research,
      # Messaging that's proven to speak to customer desires.
      # Ability to train your sales team to follow-up on your messaging - translating corporate marketing to "street level" sales conversations.
      # And next-generation strategies for going to market that move beyond event-based product launches.]

      It would be something like…

      Bring your campaign or product launch directly to your prime prospects, with our help. Come to us when you need to:

      # Use our state-of-the art research methods to identify your best prospects
      # Create powerful marketing messages that move these prospects to action and turn lookers into customers
      # Train your sales team to make the most of their conversations with prospects, using the marketing materials as a jumping off point to address each person’s specific issues and concerns
      # Think outside the box about marketing strategies that can stretch well beyond a traditional product launch event to reach whole new market sectors

      Yes, I admit mine is longer–but also cuts out the jargon, gets inside the reader’s head, and maybe eliminates the need to “translate” the corporate marketing-speak, which is now in ordinary English.

      This is the sort of thing I do every day in my copywriting and marketing consulting practice, and in my books.

    8. [...] Again, if this copy still doesn’t wow you, realize that we now have to go back and apply emotion and style.  Check out the follow-up Marketing Autopsy to see that last stage of the transformation. [...]

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    Jeff is a Persuasion Architect, Web copywriter, blogger, and instructor of FutureNow's Persuasive Online Copywriting workshop. Follow Jeff Sexton on twitter

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