Friday, February 23, 2007

A Newsletter Can Say a Lot...or Not

I got an email newsletter from a marketing group in town today. I read through the newsletter and spotted a few things I think we can learn from and apply in our own communications.

1. Speak plain English. We know you are smart people. Putting myself in the shoes of a potential customer reading your email, you don't have to show us that you won the metaphorical Olympics or are far superior than us in the field of marketing through your jargon laden writing. Folks tend to appreciate a straight shot of communique, minus the industry jargon and MBA-esque $5 words.

On a side not this is one reason I believe our group resonates so well with executive decision makers - we take what is complicated to them and remove the gobbledy gook techie/hip industry lingo and put it in business terms that they can understand and relate back to what they care about - promoting understanding and growing their business.

Excerpt from the email...
Jane Doe joined XYZ company on January 1. Her role? Funky title that does not bear repeating because it really doesn't mean anything to their audience. The person who knows how to add Tabasco to brand ideas by translating marketing speak to creative speak. Jane Doe brings 30 years of branding creativity to the team, having worked with clients like...fill in the blank with big company names.

I italicized the words I thought would serve only to confuse the hell out of someone not "in the know." Why not say she has great experience, is tremendous at helping both creative professionals and marketing professionals understand business objectives so that the end result is success? Or something simple like that? How does this translate into how we speak about our people, our products and ourselves? As those hired to help market others - is this what is being hired - big words that serve to confuse?

Another excerpt...
Jane Doe has collected over 300 creative awards from One Show, Clio, The International TV & Film Festival, the Emmys and many others. She’s judged many branding and creative competitions and enjoys teaching brand strategy and creativity to Visual Communication students at XYZ school.

Great. What has she done for clients? I bet she has done a ton for her clients - more than we can imagine, yet it is not mentioned. Not even eluded to. From this I gather she enters a lot of her work into contests and judges like it. I understand it is good to win awards. However, from the point of view that this email goes out to potentially hundreds of future clients, what is more important to promote, awards or results? How about both? I have been on the client side and as a potential customer I was always leery of those that promoted themselves as big award winners. I could have cared less. I wanted to know how they grew revenue, grew audiences, and improved processes in the marketing arena.

Is this why so many CMOs get canned after a year or two? Do they get caught up in the same traps that so many marketing, communications and ad folks get sucked into? Is it really more about awards than results? Of course it is not, but perception, as we all know, is a powerful thing.

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