In an age where our attention span lasts seconds, it is more important than ever to make sure you choose your words carefully to maximise your marketing. Too often the focus is on the way individual’s likes to say things, rather than using words which best resonate with your audience. The choices you make can be the difference between success and failure.
Some years back a now well-known Hypnotherapist in the UK, Paul McKenna, was on a mission to help women lose weight. The problem he discovered was, women don’t want to lose weight, they want to be ‘slim’. Same thing you say…but they are not in the eyes of his audience. When you think about it, losing weight is a struggle, and it feels like a critique on your body. At what point is it enough weight loss? The goal is to be seen as thin – that is the focus. For Paul, changing the language turned his business from struggling to success. Check out his website.
I have had my struggles with choosing words carefully to maximise the engagement with my audiences. You see personally I believe ‘communications’ is the primary discipline I work in, and things like marketing, branding, advertising, social media, etc. are all sub-categories. Each is a speciality which sits under the main umbrella. The problem is, and as you read this you will be nodding your head, the word ‘communications’ does not resonate. People are looking for the individual specialities, not the overarching word.
Recently I launched a test campaign to confirm what I had long suspected; nobody thinks communication is an area to address in their business. The campaign featured a communications audit I have been running successfully for some years. The difference being in the past, the audit formed part of a discussion with clients, so the name was not as important as the language around it. A campaign is different because I am not having a one on one conversation.
The debate I have had with colleagues was then to decide which words would work better. Interestingly enough opinion was divided between ‘marketing’ and ‘branding’ initially. Using tools provided by Google to research (trends) what words are attracting the most attention, we discovered something interesting, ‘brand’ rather than ‘branding’ is what people are looking for, a slight difference but it could be significant. ‘Marketing’ is still up there because it has been used for such a long time to cover so much. While Google can provide a guide, you have to make some assumptions as you dig deeper. For instance, the word marketing appears in many brand names of agencies, which in itself account for a lot of the searches when looking for someone specifically.
The result here – there is no reason to use just one word. Both brand and marketing will feature in messages from me moving forward. They are not mutually exclusive, and their meanings have indeed changed over a period. For instance, ten years ago a reference to ‘brand’ would have only referenced a logo, now we understand it to mean all your messaging. Marketing, which was more closely associated with sales and advertising in the past, now also encompasses everything from social media to brochures.
All of this is also true when it comes to choosing a brand name in the first place, as I have written about in the past.
Nothing is ever set in concrete forever. The use of words changes regularly. For example:
a. Political correctness can dictate things (like instead of ‘multi-cultural’ it is now Culturally And Linguistically Diverse communities or CALD)
b. Or it could be millennial shorthand (be careful here because as quickly you think you know what LOL means you embarrass yourself by using it)
c. Or new disciplines emerge (20 years ago social media was not around and with its growing influence so to changes what you think marketing should involve).
There are some valuable lessons to learn from my journey:
1. Listen for words which resonate better with your audience. What words are they using?
2. Use any technology which is available to help with your research
3. You don’t have to go searching for one magical word
4. The meaning of words do change
5. Review your brand messaging regularly
Taking the time to consider the implications of choosing the words to maximise your marketing is critical. You could be missing out on potential business.