“Confusion kills campaigns.”

While it’s ideal to meet a new client at the beginning of a marketing campaign, most often new clients call us when there’s a problem.

They’ve invested in a campaign and aren’t getting the results they expect.

Fixing a broken campaign means that we go over the offer, the list, and the message.   Assuming that the offer is attractive and the list is appropriate, then the problem must be with the message.

Fixing a broken marketing campaign - confusion kills campaigns

Confusion Kills Campaigns

How can we simplify the message?

Whether it’s an email, a postcard, a magazine advertisement, or a web page, almost every marketing piece we are asked to evaluate could be made much more powerful (and therefore be much more cost-effective!) by simplifying it.

A caveat here – most people make the error of taking shortcuts with their campaigns.  They try to make one simple ad or postcard do the job of a complete sales letter or catalog.

That’s not what we mean.  Complete, complex campaigns are good – the best ones involve multiple media delivered over an extended period of time.

What needs to be simplified is the message delivered to the prospect with each communication.   You’re asking the prospect to understand one simple message or take one small, low-risk step at a time.  Rather than asking him to buy an expensive, complex aircraft service contract with your first advertisement, ask the prospect to do something simple and low risk.

Ask him to download a free guide to minimize downtime or prevent problems for his particular type of aircraft.  If he downloads the guide,  then ask him to call your office and schedule a free consultation with a service specialist for his particular aircraft type.   Then, after providing sufficient background,  information, interaction and dialogue over several simple, low-risk steps, you’re now in a much better position to suggest your aircraft service contract as the ideal solution for his situation.

We often underestimate how busy and distracted our prospects are.  They have thousands of demands on their time.   Each marketing message you provide must be compelling, and it must be simple enough to grasp their attention and compel them to take some simple, appropriately low-risk action that they can take right away. If they have to perform a complex evaluation or take a large risk, they will put it aside to consider “later.”   By the time “later” rolls around, they will have purchased something from a competitor that seemed easier and simpler.

Our new clients often protest.   “This ad isn’t confusing. It makes perfect sense to me.”

When we test that ad against a simpler version sent to the same list, the simpler version nearly always gets better response.

Think about it –  you’ve been working in a complex field, probably for many years. Things that seem simple to you can be rather complex to someone whose line of work is specialized on a different topic.  Next time you watch two people with different specialties talk about their work at a networking function, notice how quickly the person speaking tends to assume a certain level of knowledge and “lose” his audience.

What are the most truly effective marketing pieces that come to mind?  The ones you’re thinking of right now were truly effective because they did just one thing very, very well – they were very simple in structure, and they conveyed one single, important message.  We remember simple slogans, images, and sound bites much better than complex, technical ones!

“But won’t we lose credibility if we don’t provide the complex technical data?”

You can provide all the data you want, as long as you use appropriate media, and convey it in the simplest possible way.  Albert Einstein had so much credibility that his unorthodox views on very complex topics have become commonly accepted.   Part of his genius was his ability to communicate complex information simply.  He said:  “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

When we evaluate the sequence of  a “troubled” marketing campaign, we ask:

  • Are we using the right mix of media to engage with the best prospects?
  • Are we asking too much too early in the process? (The “I know you’ve never heard of us before, but buy our product because it’s the best thing you’ve never heard of” approach.)
  • (Another way of putting this – Do we take enough time to establish a level of trust appropriate to the level of perceived risk associated with this product or service?)
  • What small, low-risk action could we ask the prospect to take to signal that he found our message compelling at an early stage in the process?
  • What’s the next appropriate small step?
  • Is this step more appropriate for a marketing piece or a personal interaction? (Is this an appropriate point to trigger a sales call or visit?)
  • Have we qualified this prospect well enough to justify a salesperson’s time at this point in the campaign?

About each specific marketing piece (ad, email, postcard, web page or sales letter) we ask:

  • Can we simplify the language we’re using?
  • Can we make it more concise?  (Remember Ben Franklin’s confession to a friend?  “Apologies for the long letter. I would have written you a shorter one if I’d had the time.”
  • Can we communicate any relevant data in a simpler way by using a graph, chart or image rather than text?
  • If we must provide long text, can we make it more visually attractive or “scannable” with subheads, bullets and other appropriate formatting?

Aviation industry experts often assume their prospects have a background knowledge they simple haven’t taken the time to acquire.   They often ask prospects to take an action that seems logical, from their own point of view.  From the prospect’s point of view, however, it’s another thing entirely.

After scrutinizing the campaign from this perspective and making appropriate changes, our clients are often astonished at how much more effective their campaigns can be!

Are you running a campaign that needs help?

Schedule a 30-minute consultation and we’ll tell you more about our process for getting you back on track.

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