Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Make Your Marketing Mahvelous, Dahling!

Marvelous Darling!In the dating game, first impressions are critical. Having your lipstick under control, your handshake firm, and your fingernails clean count for a lot.

You know this. EVERYBODY knows this. It's not really that complicated.

Marketing is no different. In many cases you're addressing someone for the first time, and you rightly know those first impressions are critical. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle-for-the-buck some folks lose sight of the basics.

Experts agree that just a few things control your marketing destiny. Get 'em right and your marketing is mahvelous. Get 'em wrong and you're mud.

Yet it can be damnably difficult to get the perfect balance, the perfect tone. Even years of practice doesn't make perfect. That's why marketing is so exciting. You never really know how you did until the results are in.

Perfect BalanceHere, then, in the generous spirit of Community Service, I proffer five common sense marketing "rules" based on years of our professional predecessors' trial and error.

#1. → The List. A great list can make even a mediocre marketing effort sizzle. But a poor list can doom even great creative. That means you need to put a lot of thought, time and yes, money, into ensuring you've got the right list for your message.

Corollary: Trust but Verify. 15% of the public moves every year. Ignore that fact, and you can guarantee the crippling double whammy of reduced response rates and wasted production costs. Ouch! Clean your data regularly. Dedupe it. NCOA it. Ensure address accuracy. Clean data to extends a list's useful life.

#2. →The Look. The first thing that catches the eye is the look of your piece. Are the colors bright? The type bold? The design attractive? The headline intriguing? The font readable? Is there a focal point to draw the eye? If you're boring your audience from the get-go, your message won't have a chance. Ho Hum = horrible.

Corrollary: Keep it Clean. Control your type fonts. Just because color is "free" doesn't mean you should use it willy nilly. Use white space to let the eye and mind rest as the reader absorbs your message.

#3. → The Message. Keep your message clear... Concise... Compelling. Vary sentence and paragraph lengths to make the presentation interesting. Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. Don't make them guess; don't bury your call to action. Use an "expire-by date" to drive action, ie "We need to hear from you in the next week... "

Corrollary: Avoid distractions. Keep the message — and design — focused. Ruthlessly edit unnecessary words. Use bullets to emphasize critical points.

#4. → The Timing. You're probably running behind schedule. Production has been delayed. You're getting anxious to launch. But wait! Is there a killer snow storm approaching? Better hold up; as tough as waiting can be, your audience will be more receptive later.

Corrollary: Accept your fate. You can control lists, message and design, but you can't always control timing. Unexpected things happen every day. 911. Massive fires and floods. Wars break out. If a cosmic event throws off your response rates, chalk it up to fate. And try, try again.

#5. → Step and Repeat. Be persistent... and consistent. Send your message several times. You'll never know if your target was having a tough day when your first message arrived. Maybe you'll get his attention the next time.

Corrollary: Don't give up. Keep on keeping on, as we used to say circa 1960. Keep the look and the message consistent to build your branding. Mix it up too much and you'll be mixing up your audience, too.

So there you have it. Five common-sense rules to let you go forth and prosper.

Go Forth and Prosper.

Here's to Mahvelous Marketing, Dahling!

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