Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marketing Mishaps: The "I should hope so!" factor

Marketing Mishaps: The "I should hope so!" factor
A few years ago, I read an article offering advice about how to be an "exceptional" employee. This was before the big stock market crash of 2008 that precipitated the recent unemployment surge, but presumably intending to guide folks toward keeping their jobs, nonetheless. The advice contained suggestions like:
  • Be on time for work.
  • Dress approrpiately.
  • Know where all your files are, so that when the boss asks for them, you can hand them to him/her immediately.
  • Don't use work time for personal matters.
I am not kidding or exaggerating these were the tips this writer offered about being an exceptional employee. Of course, my first reaction was, "Are you serious?! This is the very least someone should do to be an ADEQUATE employee, one who receives a check next to the 'Meets Expectations' box on those infernal reviews."

Well, these sorts of "I should hope so" episodes are not limited to advice articles. Sometimes you find them in companies' marketing materials, and there's no quicker way to blend in with the crowd.

Yesterday I saw a bus stop ad for a law firm. The main message of the ad was, "WE WIN CASES!" Immediately, I thought to myself, "Really? Isn't that what you're supposed to do? And how many cases do you win? 20 percent? 30 percent? 90 percent?"

To their credit, they had a fairly small space in which to work. However, what they gained in space they sacrificed in a compelling message. What if they changed their message just a bit, to say instead, "We win cases other firms won't take"?

This happens more than you may realize. Have you seen ads for bedding companies that tell say, "You'll sleep through the night on our mattresses"? Or hotel promotions that emphasize their "clean, comfortable rooms"? Isn't that the least you expect from a mattress or a hotel room? I suppose it's a slightly different matter whan an airline brands itself as the "On-Time Airline" because the industry standard is to seldom be on time but even so, isn't arriving on time a pretty average expectation? It's kind of like saying, "We screw up less than everyone else in our business."

I once saw a brochure for a summer camp. This was a glossy, full-color, 12-page booklet touting the beautiful location and all the exciting activities children would experience at this $2,000/week camp. Then came the testimonials, which said things like, "Little Bobby had so much fun and made lots of new friends!" Again ... seriously?! Isn't that the least you should expect from a summer camp? How is that in any way compelling to a parent?

It can be difficult to stand out in  a crowded field, but mine your features, benefits, and characteristics until you hit on what really makes you unique and different from everyone else and then promote THAT.

Success rate.
Length of time in the business.
Green technology.
Additional apprecaited by unexpected offerings.

Whatever you do, avoid using words that will make people think, "Really? Isn't that the least this company should do?!"
Until next time happy marketing!

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  1. We win cases others won't take will surely have a great effect instead of just saying we win cases... That is the main point of your post. Thumbs up. I will also follow the guidelines from this article to promote my business of copper mugs

  2. Very insightful and interesting article. I would love to know more about this, So if you post more about this topic I would appreciate it.

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