Filtering Out The Fluff!

Most of us struggle with trying to avoid marketing fluff.  It’s not easy.  But the benefits are worth the effort.  

I recently read a brochure about a new upscale housing development.  The piece was beautifully designed, had nice graphics, and it visually flowed well.  So what was the problem? What it said.  Or rather, what it didn’t say.  Everything they wrote about their project consisted of dull, worn-out clichés – -“leading edge,” “state of the art,” “innovative,” even that bloated loser “synergistic.”  The copy gave no compelling reason whatsoever as to why I might be interested.  And based on the visuals, it looked to me like there were several.
“Marketing fluff” consists of grandiose claims, unsubstantiated by any evidence, that don’t actually say anything.  Here’s an example:
“Our firm is uniquely qualified to deliver world-class results.  We offer best-of-breed products and customer-focused service to produce seamless solutions. Our commitment to partnering with our customers produces innovative yet user-friendly applications that produce bottom-line results.”
Sound impressive?  Not really.  In fact this paragraph, if someone actually takes the time to read it, doesn’t say anything that anyone else couldn’t say – whether or not they could actually deliver on these promises.  The problem comes from not supporting these claims with even a sliver of proof.  World-class results?  Says who?  Best-of-breed products?  By what standards?  Seamless?  What does that mean?
The answer is to clearly communicate meaningful benefits and then support your claims with details. Suppose the sentences were written as follows:
• Our firm has successfully installed advanced imaging systems in more than 500 financial institutions in North America, more than any other firm in the industry.
• We offer the latest technology, including digital scanning, and we back our systems with a one-year, unconditional guarantee and a service department that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
• As a result, by choosing us you achieve three important outcomes: First, you are in full compliance with all Federal and State regulations. Second, you eliminate more than 70% of the paper routinely generated in the course of business. And third, your total cost of operations goes down due to reduced information storage costs.
• On average, our customers saved more than $275,000 annually over the past three years.  
You might be more interested in following up on that message. It’s all in the details.  In the second example, the reader forms the “World-class results”, etc. conclusion in their own mind, rather than you saying it – – a much more believable approach with much better results.
Determine what is most important to your customers, why they would want to buy your product or service, how you can differentiate yourself in meaningful ways; then determine how to articulate your story in compelling language, how people are most receptive to receiving your message, and what is the most effective way to deliver your message. 

The result is sustainable results!

Posted by John Harden  February 18th, 2009

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