With studies showing that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day (and quickly growing), proverbially “getting above the noise” as a marketer has truly never been more difficult. Approximately 105,000 words reach our eyes and ears every day and that doesn’t even factor in pictures, videos and games. Information overload is alive and well.
Yet, from President Trump’s unprecedented tweets to the groundbreaking movement that was incited from the two simple words of the #MeToo campaign in 2017, the power of the written word has demonstrated its ability over and over again to stir overwhelming emotion and even change the course of history.
Regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C, we’re bombarded with brand messaging as the marketplace is exploding with products and services marketed through a deluge of online and offline mediums. We live in a world where we have both more brands and more marketing messaging than ever. From the choice overload we experience in grocery aisles, to apps on our phone, to traditional print ads, to digital retargeting and more, marketing messages come flying to us at literally every waking (and sleeping) moment of the day in every possible place.
Not only that, but our daily lives are filled with all varieties of messages (in some cases ones that we’ve asked for) coming directly to us through emails, news feeds, social media posts, and texts. We can’t even keep up with the subscriptions we’ve opted into.
In addition (as if this isn’t enough), today the notion of brand messaging applies to essentially everything, not just products or services that are being overtly marketed or advertised. Whether intentional or not, people all have their own personal brands whose stories are told through various forms of communication. Whether it’s posts from friends on Facebook or tweets from people you follow, those communications all shape personal brand stories. Add this into the sea of messaging that we are exposed to daily.
So, how can we work toward being one of the 105,000 words that really make a difference? How can we resonate with our target audience?
As a marketer, the most important thing you can do to effectively communicate through writing is to understand your customers so that you can align your story to them.
Simple as that. The not-so-simple part is that this involves building a true, deep, full understanding of them. This goes far beyond knowing the basics about your customers.
How do we do this? Talk to your customers about things that matter to them, and do it often.
How often do you actually talk to your customers voice-to-voice? How often do you meet with them face-to-face? A real live conversation is becoming more and more of a lost art form. And what you say, the story you tell them, has never been more important. Emails, texts and various messaging platforms are all fantastic and vital forms of communication but nothing, absolutely nothing, replaces an authentic conversation, and ideally one that takes place in person. And while analytics are extremely useful, you don’t want to miss out on the unique insight that can only be gained from human connection.
When you talk to your customers, dig deep. This is especially critical for really understanding why they rave about your product or service or equally as important, why they don’t. It’s like the child who asks ten why questions in a row until they are fully satisfied with the answer. Talk to enough customers at this level of depth and you’ll not only develop a solid appreciation for their pain points and preferences but you’ll be able to pick up on the specific language and expressions that they use. Almost invariably, certain key themes and phrases will bubble to the top.
By featuring words and phrases in your marketing language that originated from your customers directly, you show that you “get” them.
Once you’ve developed a solid foundational understanding of your customers and the specific topics and terminology that will resonate with them, the next thing is to write, write, and then write some more.
Most marketers are not actual copywriters and likewise, many copywriters are not marketers. However, at its fundamental core, marketing is about communication. And communication, at its most basic level, involves the written word.
Regardless of whether you tout yourself as an actual copywriter or not, writing is and will forever be completely foundational to the trade of marketing. This is not to advocate that all marketers should become copywriters (definitely not the case) – the point is that you simply cannot be a strong marketer if you cannot write your story effectively. If anything, this skill is more important than ever as the barrier to entry has grown far higher with the exponential sea of messages that inundate society today.
And, just like the only way to run faster is to run faster, the only way to be write better is to write better. Practice makes perfect.
Iterate and stay inside the guardrails of what you’ve learned about your customer’s needs. Continually test messages and keep in mind that the best ones tell a simple and clear story aligned to your customer.
Connecting to your audience with a story that rises above the noise, and continues the dialogue with your buyer is only possible when you truly, deeply understand your customers and can effectively engage with them – in their terminology, about the topics they care about, throughout their journey.
If you want to learn more about how your company can break through the noise, and you’d like to see examples of how industry leaders are approaching their marketing systems, order my new book, Marketing, Interrupted.