One of the challenges I face on a regular basis is getting clients and prospects to understand that their marketing should be a reflection of them without being all about them. It’s a difficult concept to explain and, perhaps, even more difficult to understand.
In a nutshell, what it means is that our messaging should always represent who we are as a brand. Whether that means a representation of the owner in a micro-business, or a conglomerate of the slick image created for a big business by a marketing agency – the messaging should be true to the company's branding.
That being said, we need to make sure that the message we’re putting out there is done in a way that is appealing to our target market.
One example I face on an almost daily basis is the business owner or manager who is choosing a promotional product because they like it and think it’s cool. If that item is not appealing (or appropriate) to their target market, then is the marketing message going to even get noticed?
Want an example? I had a business owner client who loved Zippo lighters and found out that we can brand them for him. His mission in life became to get those Zippos for his next promotional campaign. Now his target market was high school kids. How many parents would even allow their kid to own a Zippo lighter, let alone want them to carry one around with them? The lighter would be confiscated if taken to school and maybe at home, too. Not the right media for his marketing message, but it took a lot of effort to make him understand that. I even arranged a visit with a school principal explaining the ramifications of a kid being caught on campus with a Zippo (possible suspension and, maybe even expulsion) to convince him this was not a “cool” promotion.
Don’t get me wrong, Zippo lighters can be a great promotional product – when given to the right audience in the right venue at the right time.
Next time you put together a marketing campaign (promotional product, online, print ad, or other), think about whether the messaging will really speak to your target in the way you want.