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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Give Me Specifics!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

One of the most powerful techniques in marketing is giving specifics… or NOT! When selling or marketing products, you need to know when to give specific examples, testimonials, or evidence, and when to hold back. For example let’s explore the commercials that offer a faster Internet connection.

Cable companies like Comcast and others highlight the fact that their Internet connection speeds are “Up to 2 times faster” than some other brand. By being specific, customers and potential customers can see the benefit of what is being offered. This helps to justify price and remove obstacles to purchase.

At the same time that Comcast is giving you specifics, they are also being smart about what they are not telling you. For example, Comcast might be more expensive than other competitors with a similar offering. Or, they may require the purchase of an upgraded package in order to get the faster service too. In this example, Comcast is being as selective about what they are telling you as well as what they aren’t telling you.

Are you being specific in your marketing?

Being a strong marketer means being able to tell the difference between situations that require specifics and those that do not. One of the main points I wish to get across is that using specifics in your marketing messages are ideal when your product or service meet an obvious or latent need. “Do you laundry in half the time”, “Save gas with our new fuel efficient model”, etc. are good starting points to address obvious needs but don’t quite do enough to generate a desired action.

“Our New Washer Allows You to Do 30% More Laundry in Half the Time,” “Save 40% More Gasoline Then Other Similarly Priced Vehicles,” “Save $32/month With Our Automated Payment Plan”. Whatever you are selling or promoting, be specific when meeting a customer need.

If you are not sure if there is a need, then you must focus on your market segment and work directly with customers/prospects to determine what need or problem your product solves. When you’ve identified the needs, work on messaging that can address needs in both a direct and indirect manner. Test your messages but do so intelligently. Pair up specific and less specific messages to see which has a positive effect.

Fight marketing fire with marketing fire

One way to determine possible messaging is to look at what your competitors are doing. How are your competitors marketing similar products or services? If you’re a retailer and are running a sale on a particular item, announcing the sale itself may not enough. If your competitors are offering lots of details, you may have to fight fire with fire. What’s the price they are offering on the item? What do you get with your purchase? How does your offer compare to your competitors’? Be specific. If you offer isn’t as good, choose to be less specific or direct to draw attention and interest.

Sometimes being vague is a good strategy. If your goal is to pique interest, then test both general and specific messages. “Whiten Teeth” is a good message if you have uncovered a need. “Make Teeth 27% Whiter With [product name]” may be even better. Specifics help people make comparisons and can also add a dimension of reality that can’t be acquired anywhere else.

The Best Marketing Messages Come From Testing

The reality is that you can plan your messaging based on solid market research, past messages and behaviors, but nothing replaces real live testing. Find inexpensive ways to test your messaging like pay-per-click advertising or email. Take the winners and build marketing messages that enhance them over time.
By testing on a regular basis you can continue to refine your marketing and improve your results. Even the top marketers rely on testing to keep their ads, emails, and other direct marketing from becoming stale or ineffective. Before delivering your next campaign, consider how to position the specifics of your message and how you are going to test it. If you do, you’re sure to win!


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