“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” ~David Packard, cofounder of Hewlett-Packard Company
I remember as a child when the biggest brands looked and sounded like this: “New! IMPROVED! BUY! NOW!” Their words shouted figuratively and their announcers shouted literally.
But the world has gotten emphasis fatigue. We’re all sick of it. So the best brands are now turning down the volume. They are being more subtle. They are inviting us rather than ordering us.
It’s easier to yell, so that’s what new, inexperienced and poor marketers do. Even in everyday life, shrieking gets the wrong kind of attention. Raise the alarm too many times and people will just consider your communications to be noise. Nobody likes noise.
Consider the difference between these two messages:
A pure expression of performance and luxury — Jaguar.
We’re going crazy down here at Loco Joe’s Discount Car Emporium!
There is a reason why Jaguar is getting $60,000 for their cars but Loco Joe is only getting $6,000 for his.
It is harder to come up with subtle language than to just use brute force. But herein lies the rub: subtlety is powerful but shouting is merely forceful. Power wins every time.
Being harder does not mean it is not worth the effort. Come on, would you rather be driving one of Loco Joe’s clunkers or a sleek new Jaguar? (Say “Jaguar” to yourself with a British accent to get in the proper frame of mind…)
The emphasis isn’t always inflicted with caps, italics or exclamation points. Sometimes the words themselves do the shouting. There is a whole marketingspeak vocabulary out there and we all recognize it. The words in this lexicon didn’t use to have a marketing connotation but they have been taken over so that the rest of us good folks can no longer use them without getting their marketing stink on us.
I have my own (growing) list of verboten words in marketing. Right at the top is “secrets”.
It blows me away when someone, in broadcasted advertising, claims they are going to tell me a secret. Aren’t secrets supposed to be private? If I told you a secret and you then blabbed about it on Facebook, I would be none too happy. But if you ran it in an ad on Facebook, I would be flipped out. Broadcasting “secrets” is silly at best and disingenuous at worst. Don’t do it.
Another ignoble word is “insiders”. You can’t claim exclusivity when you broadcast to anyone who is willing to pony up $37. It just isn’t that inside. In fact, what does the outside even look like?
The list of words to avoid is a moving target. Those who coin such words or are the first to bring them to a marketing purpose are geniuses. But these words have a shelf life for any particular use. “Guerilla” was genius back in the day. “Masters” and “gurus” were once enticing new concepts. What gave them value was two things: they had a known meaning and it was being put in a new context. If it is no longer new, the power is gone.
Many of us are not experienced marketers so we do what everybody tells us to do: model the best. The problem is currency matters in the marketing realm. Tony Robbins can get away with still calling his training program Mastery University because he said it first and he said it big. If I try to use Mastery Academy or Mastery Formula or some such to model the form, it will not have the same power. In fact, it may have no power at all as the most powerful word gets tuned out by those who have heard it too often.
“Are you driving people away with the words you choose?” click to tweet
Marketing is communication. Communication is a fundamental means of connection. Connection is a base requirement for human vitality. So when you write that headline, title or subject line, don’t get lazy and just say the stale words that are echoing in your head from their constant overuse. Don’t worry that you aren’t some kind of master copywriter. Genuineness comes through. Sincerity shines like a beacon. Love conquers all.
What words are you over and done with? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: maromos