A new season of television is upon us and with it, one of my favorite shows – "The Biggest Loser." I'm always moved and motivated by how Bob and Jillian help each season's contestants shed pounds, sculpt their bodies and lead healthier lifestyles. But what I love even more is watching how the show's contestants discover and then reveal their true selves as they slough off the fat and health problems that junk food, lethargy and self-doubt have layered on.
The lessons learned on "The Biggest Loser" might just as easily be applied to business marketing today. How many B2B and professional services marketers are creating flabby and weak brand messaging with "filler" words and phrases, corpulent copy and tired visuals? Surf the Web. Like our increasingly overweight population, you'll find many companies and professional services addicted to junk-food jargon, with sites that are heavy on copy but light on substance. What they need is the brand messaging equivalent of a Bob and Jillian.
In a past life, I was a personal trainer – so I know a little something about cutting fat and adding muscle. As a brand strategist, I bring some of the knowledge gained in the gym helping clients become defined to the brand development we do for clients at Moiré Marketing Partners. That said, here are a few tips that can help you create a more powerful and "fit" brand message:
Lose the Empty Calories
Solutions. Results. Expertise. Innovation. These and other words and phrases like them are what I call "empty-calorie copy." They fill up space but contribute little or nothing to your message. While industry insiders use these buzzwords, they really don’t say anything useful or concrete to your audience. These words seem especially prevalent in service industries, where what's being sold is often intangible. It’s tempting to fall back on these words, however. Like fast food, it's easy and it satisfies a need quickly. That's why everyone does it--and why everyone sounds exactly the same. Unless you want to be lost among the other "one billion served" by these empty-calorie words and phrases, they won't make you stand out and serve only to weigh down your message in jargon.
Trim the Fat
While we're losing the empty calories, let's trim the fat. Too many businesses and professional services try to say too much. They want to cram everything into their messaging in order to be all things to all people. But what often ends up happening is that the most important information that defines you ends up lost under layers of copy no one wants to (and therefore, won't) read. It's best to limit your message to the most salient points of what you do, who you are and – most important – why you're different. The rest is just weighing your message down.
I once worked for an in-house marketing unit of company that provides data and analytics to the commercial real estate industry. The mantra of its Director of Marketing was "You can never repeat your message enough." We hammered our customers with countless postcards and e-mails, all of which pretty much said the same thing. And then he wondered why no one wanted to listen to what we had to say.
How you say it is much more important than how many times you say it. In other words, say it powerfully rather than often. A powerful message will have more impact than one that's repeated over and over until it becomes background noise. But again, repeating your message often is easy. Building a brand message that's strong and clearly defined, that resonates within your organization and outward to your audience is much more difficult – yet far more rewarding. It requires the discipline and determination to slough off the "client-focused", "results-oriented", "cutting-edge" layers of blabber and take the time to define what it is that makes you unique. Even if it's just one aspect of your business or service that makes you different, say it powerfully and it will resonate.
To have a stong brand presence that can compete in the market, you first have to create a "fit" brand message. A good marketing partner can be your Bob and Jillian to whip your message into shape.
What other exercises have you done to create a stonger brand message? We'd love to hear your ideas.