Hamilton Wallace, small business marketing consultant, talks about marketing messageOne of the biggest mistakes small businesses make with their marketing is trying to say too much.

It’s death by a thousand cuts (sorry).

The business starts out with a simple, accurate, authentic message: superior engineering, for example.  (The knife on the right.)

Then as the company and its competition grow, the message grows: superior engineering, telecom experience, fast delivery.  After a few more years they add private label manufacturing.  And on and on.

Until they sound like the knife on the left.

Sharpening Your Marketing Message

My message about your message is:

Keep your marketing message simple, relevant and authentic.

And yes, it’s easier said than done!  But that isn’t a pass for not trying.  It’s the hardest work you’ll do, and the most important.  Because you can double the size of your ad or your mailing or your website visitor count and still not move the sales needle if what you’re saying doesn’t resonate.

The good news is the opposite is also true.  Get your message right and watch what happens.

Simple-  Don’t make the mistake of adding layer upon layer, feature upon feature, in an attempt to give people more reasons to buy from you.  This actually works against you.  People aren’t dumber today, but they are hit with far more information than ever before.  If you make people work to understand why you are different, you lose.

You need to work harder than ever before at being distinctive, at standing out.  Which means a simpler message is a better message.

Relevant–  Customers’ buying motivations are a moving target.  Make sure your message moves with them.  I’m not saying present yourself as something you are not (see Authentic, below).  But, take my first example above.  The company is probably better off going back to its “superior engineering” message, right?  Right.  Unless engineering isn’t important right now to its customers.  Find out what’s important to your customers now, then start talking about that.  Ask them.  They’ll tell you.

You need to work harder than ever before at being distinctive, at standing out.  Make sure your simple message is also a relevant one.

Authentic–  Tell people who you are.  Who.  You.  Really.  Are.  The job of marketing is to communicate the truth about a product or service.  And you thought marketing’s job was to sell stuff!!?  Paint an accurate picture, tell an accurate story to enough of the right people (people who care about that) and you’ll be fine.

Think about Apple’s message in front of HP’s products.  Not so good, right?  You need to work harder than ever before at being distinctive, at standing out.  Make sure what you say is true AND simple AND relevant.  Like I said, it’s the hardest work you’ll do.  So, get started. . .