Marketing gurus as relationship counselors

1

May 18, 2010 by Stephanie Janard

Almost all of us have a friend who has some terrific traits, is adequately attractive, but just can’t seem to make a lasting love connection. (If you knew me before I met my better half – bite your tongue.)

After a period of observation, we begin to suspect a repeating behavior pattern is the culprit. Some misguided book told our friend the key to attracting suitors is to be aloof and unobtainable. Or maybe we notice firsthand how much our friend nervously chatters on without pausing to ask his or her date a few questions.

I’m starting to spot some similar correlations with marketing communications. A recent example: a colleague of mine and I were looking over a data sheet jam-packed with product functionality information. From a design standpoint, this left a very cluttered piece. But worse, it didn’t leave room to depict a few intriguing, real world benefits for the prospect – for whom there wasn’t much reason to continue reading.

Such a tactic assumed every prospect would have a high level of technical aptitude, even though the person who eventually writes the check for an expensive new software suite or other technology product sometimes doesn’t. It also assumed the tech-savvy reader would only respond to feature/functionality information.

Does your own marketing collateral nervously chatter away? If you suspect it might, pick the top two or three features that correlate with your prospect’s most urgent priorities, and keep your emphasis on the benefits these features deliver. At least for a two-page data sheet.

Now for the opposite problem: being invisible or sporadic in communication. It doesn’t work with either romantic or customer relationships.

Of course, neither does stalking. But there’s a difference between blitzing your prospects, customers, and partners with a barrage of emails every other day and regular, consistently spaced communication.  Quarterly communications probably won’t be enough. I think a monthly basis strikes a nice balance, or short updates every couple of weeks. One company that does a great job of this is, not surprisingly, the email marketer Constant Contact.

Another company that is really starting to test my patience, I won’t name, but they’re a well known marketing resource site and should know better. I’m getting an email from them every other day. It’s annoying and I’ve stopped opening them.

If you want to stay in touch with your audience on such a frequent basis without losing them from your newsletter subscription list, at least give them the option to make this choice themselves – like signing up for your blog, Twitter account, etc.

All things being said and despite the title of this post, I’d still rather remain a marketing copywriter and consultant than a relationship counselor. For one thing, I’ve yet to have a client call me in the middle of the night sobbing and threatening to self-destruct,  although I’ve fielded a few “HELP! I’ve got a deadline and no writer!” calls.

But the overlap is definitely there. How about you? Can you think of some examples where marketing communications is a lot like cultivating a love connection?

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One thought on “Marketing gurus as relationship counselors

  1. Phil Dunn says:

    The first part of this reminds me of something I see a lot – companies that “lead with their chin.” You could equate this to the suitor that blurts out all their amazing qualities on the first date. They lead with “I’m charming, athletic, win awards, make $, cook like a chef, love like Antonio Banderas, and .. am exceeding modest and humble.”

    That kind of intro leads to “taking one on the chin.”

    Companies need to start their communications with qualifying content – as in, “do I have a problem that needs solving.” In the dating world, it might be that open, listening quality that looks for ways to connect and empathize.

    In biz, you need to quickly set up the challenges, pains, issues and needs of the prospect and make sure they’re on board (if not, they click away or toss the brochure – which is fine). But you have to *identify* first then establish authority and subtle solution copy… not braggart blustering.

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