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Your Marketing Message

By Keith Thirgood
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005

Your message is first among your weapons in the battle of perceptions.

Your message allows you to accomplish many things. Your message can educate the masses, convert the non-believers or separate the wheat from the chaff. But not all three.

Your first clue to your message comes from where in the Awareness Scale™ your target sits. (See my article titled "Target Your Market" for further discussion on the Awareness Scale™)

The Educational Target

The Educational Target needs the benefits of your type of service/product fully and carefully explained. Don’t spend time differentiating your company from your competition, there isn’t any. Instead, your target must have their awareness raised until they care.

The Doubter Target

The Doubter Target needs to have their objections overcome. You still must present the general benefits, but concentrate on overcoming the fears revealed in your research. Show how you deliver these benefits better than your competition. Your materials have a greater fight for attention here.

The Differentiation Target

The Differentiation Target is the most obvious target. All your competition is there. This market is already buying your type of service/product and they know what the major benefits are. You must highlight how you deliver the major benefits better than the competition. How you have other, less obvious benefits, your competitors don’t. You must really stand out in this crowd. To be noticed, your materials and approach must be unique.

As you can see, each target needs a different message. Don’t make the mistake of trying to combine the messages in one approach. It won’t work.

Bad marketing happens to good people because they can’t believe others are blind to their goodness. Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products. Objective reality doesn’t exist. What people believe about you and your product is what’s real. This is tough for most people to come to grips with. Creating a positive impression is not saying you are wonderful. It’s proving it. Marketing works when it demonstrates, not when it asserts.

Don’t explain the tools of your trade and don’t list the features. Go for the benefits. Make them clear and desirable. If your target has to figure out the benefits for themselves, you’re asking them to do your job for you. They won’t. They’ll do something else. The loss is yours.

For marketing purposes, each feature must deliver a benefit. Otherwise, it’s worthless. Write out all the benefits of your product/service. Pretend you are a prospect. For each benefit statement you write, ask yourself, “So what?” If your answer to “So what?” is more explanation, your statement is not yet a benefit.


Client says: “Our car has passenger-side air bags.” We reply: “So what? This is a feature.” Client: “Our air bags inflate in 1/1000 of a second and can withstand 24 G forces.” Us: “So what? This is still a feature.” Client: “The passenger can walk away from a head-on collision.” Us: “Now that’s a benefit.”

About the Author
Keith Thirgood, Creative Director

Capstone Communications Group

Helping businesses get more business through innovative marketing

( Markham, Ontario, Canada 905-472-2330

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