How do you describe your business in your marketing material? Are you ‘customer-focused offering high-quality service’? Do you ‘lead the way with operational excellence’? Maybe you ‘utilise your highly specialised staff to deliver integrated turnkey solutions’. Hopefully you spotted these statements for what they are: meaningless marketing buzzwords full of hot air. But here are some words you probably have used at one point or another: unique, professional, expert, outstanding, efficient, specialist, innovative, high performance, strategic. These words might seem appropriate to your business; I use some of them myself. You might struggle to find alternatives, making them seem like the best choice.
But if they can be applied to any business in any industries, their power is diluted. To avoid your customers feeling like they have to choose between the white, the off-white, the ivory and the beige, you need to turn those marketing buzzwords into words with meaning.
Three steps to let out the hot air from your marketing:
- Step 1. Identify the marketing buzzwords you need to work on. Take a highlighter to your brochure or website copywriting and highlight every word or phrase you use to describe your business.
- Step 2. Pop them into a separate document. A spreadsheet is good with one column for descriptive phrase and one for the details.
- Step 3. For each descriptive phrase ask yourself: “What does this mean for my customer?” Try and come up with multiple aspects of that descriptive phrase, always considering what your customer gets out of it. For each explanation, complete the addition “which means that…..” until you get to a meaningful benefit.
Turning meaningless marketing into meaningful
Let’s run through an example using one of the most commonly used marketing descriptors: professional. Being professional will mean something different to everyone so it’s important to articulate what it really means for the way your business interacts with your customers. I describe Copywrite Matters as professional but what does my professionalism mean for my customers?
- I have a detailed scoping process, which means that there is a low risk of misunderstandings about the results my customers are expecting.
- I let my customers know when to expect their copywriting, which means that they rarely feel out of control or disconnected from the work being done.
- I am punctual, which means that I respect and value my customers’ time.
- I am organised, which means that I deliver everything I say I will, when I say.
Now I have several, more meaningful benefits I can highlight in my marketing, rather than simply saying “Copywrite Matters is professional.” Let’s go through the same exercise with the use of innovative by an imaginary company; e.g., ‘We provide innovative solutions’. Innovation is the process of developing some new or different so how do we make sure we do that for our customers?
- We actively encourage our teams to challenge preconceptions, which means that we avoid getting lazy with ‘safe’ ideas.
- We create safe, open forums for our staff to share problem-solving approaches, which means that we often get ideas that we’ve never tried before.
- We take time to get to grips with the real problems our customers face, which means that we are more likely to solve their problem rather than their symptom.
Next time you’re tempted to use a phrase that is used by business in other industries, go through this exercise and see if there aren’t some more meaningful benefits you can focus on instead or other descriptors you can use. If you choose to use your buzzword, consider adding some explanation to support your claim. Have a quick read through your most commonly used marketing. Can you see any phrases that need supporting? Share them here with how you support your claim.