Over the years I, and my clients have labored mightily at our marketing efforts. Hours of careful thought about our marketing objectives, followed by more hours of careful analysis of past test results. And even more analysis of our lists and target audiences, followed by hour upon hour of agonized copywriting and creative development. Lastly, double- and triple-checking test emails, lettershop insertion samples and testing our telemarketing scripts in every imaginable way.
After all that careful planning and analysis, what could possibly go wrong?
Just three simple things:
- People don’t read.
- People don’t think.
- People don’t care.
Those simple “people don’t” mantras aren’t meant to be as negative sounding as they first appear to be. In fact, they are actually very positive thoughts that will help you develop more relevant and, ultimately, more effective marketing. Let me explain:
People don’t read.
This isn’t to say that nobody reads any more or that your target audience is illiterate. Nor does it mean that long copy doesn’t work. (Quite the contrary, as I am an advocate of long copy.)
It just means that they aren’t going to read all of what you have to say. Most of the time they will skim or snack over your copy. The result is that they–through no fault of their own–are going to miss things. Important things like your offer or key benefits. And that will depress response.
Here’s a test to get around this problem. Walk out your door (I mean out the door and to the street; talking to a fellow marketing person doesn’t count) and stop the first person you see. Hand them your copy and ask them to read it. Count in your head to 10 and pull away the copy. Ask them three questions:
- What’s this for?
- Why would somebody buy it?
- What are they offering you?
If you can get pretty good answers, say with 80% accuracy, you’re at a good start.
Not a fair test? Remember that when you go home tonight. The kids are screaming, the dogs are barking, the gas bill showed up and you’ve got to run out to hockey practice and, what about dinner? Think you’ve got time to read a lot of text to figure out how to spend your money?
People don’t think.
People and your customers aren’t dumb, of course. They’re just strapped for time and they fall back on using heuristics (patterns) when they make decisions.
Unless it’s something that is at top of mind or might get you killed, you tend to fall back into patterned ways of thinking. Such as doing what our mothers taught us years ago. That’s why we buy Morton’s salt, when the store-brand would be just as effective in delivering our daily NaCl.
Unfortunately, most of the time, they aren’t thinking about your products or services. Sorry, they aren’t waiting for your offer to hit them as they’re surfing for news this morning. That banner ad just isn’t going to get their attention.
You’ve got to get their attention with something a bit (and it doesn’t have to be much) different that give the brain an opportunity to switch into conscious decision-making mode.
One of the best examples of this is AOL’s use of varied designs, offers, packaging–including use of tins, boxes, plastic cases and so on. One of the objectives was to get your attention and make you think, even if just for a second. And that’s what allowed that 10th or 20th disk to finally break through with a positive response.
People don’t care.
Quick, what brand of shoelaces are you wearing? If you’re like me, the last time you even thought about your shoelaces, let alone the brand, was probably never. I’m sure the good people who make our shoelaces are distraught over that, but then they care deeply about the business of making, marketing and distributing shoelaces.
The people you are selling your products to aren’t worried about your problems, your marketing campaign or your company. You’ve got mere seconds to get them to care about a problem of theirs that happens to coincide with a solution you’re providing.
Getting people to care starts with your choice of words and a simple test. And the test is “you”. Is your copy absolutely dripping with “you” copy? Or is the “me/I” or, worse, the dreaded corporate “we” variety? If so, why should they care about you? Make me care about my favorite topic–me–and you’ve got a chance.
Summary and Takeaways
People don’t read, people don’t think and people don’t care. Remember that before you embark on any marketing campaign and do the following to overcome those problems:
- Get them to start reading by catching their attention quickly and simply.
- Stimulate active thinking about your offer by changing things up. Try different formats, offers or unexpected channels.
- Make your offer personal and feature “you” copy that offers benefits that solves their problems.