Why Your Marketing Communications Aren’t Working

How much time, effort and money are you spending on marketing communications? Do you think your investments are paying off? Like many executives, you’re probably not convinced that your marketing communications efforts are working.

Imagine this: one evening you walk into a party, uninvited, and start loudly declaring, “I’ve been around since 1973. I have a great track record of being a good friend. I have many skills I can bring to our relationship, should we decide to be friends, including trustworthiness, integrity, and accountability. This week, I’m offering a special guarantee: I’ll be a good friend, or you’ll get all of your time back.” Do you think you’d make any friends at that party?

Of course not. But isn’t this really what most marketing communications are like? Uninvited interruptions, based on generic, impersonal, one-way communications, the subject matter of which is much more about the marketer than the customer? Why would this type of communication earn you customers, if it bears little resemblance to the ways humans actually communicate with each other? This is one of the key reasons that most (read: virtually all) marketing communications are ignored.

Try modeling your marketing communications on the kinds of human interactions and dialogues we have in the normal course of living our lives. We humans are really good at having conversations; after all, it’s one of our primary distinguishing characteristics. Why not use that natural human talent in our marketing?

Of course, we don’t always have the chance to engage our customers in personalized, face-to-face dialogues, so we are often forced to use marketing communications, such as advertising, social media posts, websites, direct mail, etc. as means to get a message to our customers. The trick is to realize that these communications are just poor substitutes for face-to-face dialogue and to construct them with that in mind.

When many marketers create marketing communication, let’s say a social media post or a paragraph of copy for their website, the marketing model they try to emulate is a slick ad, produced by a clever group of advertising creatives. They would be much better off if, instead of modeling their work on mass advertising, they modeled it on a rich conversation with a friend.

Your marketing communications shouldn’t be designed just to throw facts, figures and bullet points at your customer. They should be designed to help your customers form powerful stories in their minds about how they will be better off by working with you.

Instead of looking at the 30-second Super Bowl ad as the paragon of marketing, look for inspiration in the best conversations you have when speaking with other people. Traditional marketing communications are ineffective at motivating customers. Conversations that matter moves people to think differently, and act differently.


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