Monday, March 26, 2018

Creating a Need Through Your Marketing Content

I found a pretty funny old article about how some companies try to put a gender spin on some puzzlingly genderless products. Check out that first item, for example, the Bic Pens "For Her." I don't know what's inherently feminine about these pens,  but apparently they struck home with their target market. Oh, and check out the "Tools for Women" toolbox (You guessed it: a pink hammer, a pink drill, a pink level...) You'll also see "manly" products such as Slim Jim beef jerky and Just for Men hair color (which offers what appears to be the exact same product under a different name for women).

I'm not going after the gender angle here. I'm marveling at advertisers' ability to create the need for a product out of thin air, even when that product already existed. Here Jane doe's been buying pens all her life, and then suddenly she sees Pens for Her and thinks, "Finally, a product aimed at my sensibilities and style." Um, they're pens. Or the guy buys Slim Jims because their "Menergy" unleashes his inner Macho Man. In these cases a niche appeal has been invented out of thin air.

Even a buzzword can be sufficient to snap up that segment of the population who melts at the sound of it. One of my favorite examples of this sort of thing is my old pair of computer headphones, the Sony MDR-V6. This model has gone unchanged for decades and has made a forever home in many a recording studio and TV production house, mainly because of its ability to reproduce fine audio detail. 

But I think there's another reason they caught on with home listeners as well as professionals -- namely, the sticker on each ear pad proudly proclaiming, "FOR DIGITAL." Digital what? Beats me. Digital equipment, presumably, or maybe digitally-recorded music, which was the hot new thing back in the'80s when the MDR-V6 first came out. Never mind what it means; these are obviously extraordinary headphones and I must have them right now because they're FOR DIGITAL.

Steve Jobs famously opined that people don't know what they want until you show it to them. Henry Ford once said, "Before the automobile existed, if I'd asked what people wanted, they'd have said faster horses.” 

So my question to you is: Do you have a product or service that might appeal to a niche audience you never considered even remotely reachable? Does your new toy have uses for the heavy equipment industry? Does your scientific tool do things that kids would love? Could you create a sexy tag line or other compelling marketing content that might gain you a whole new customer demographic? 

In other words -- what's your "FOR DIGITAL" sticker? 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Writing for Your Particular Profession

Imagine for a moment that you're sitting in a typical examination room, waiting to meet your new doctor for the first time. When the door opens and the doctor steps in to say hello, how will you feel if he's wearing bib overalls and a Larry the Cable Guy cap? Or a butcher's apron? Or black mourning attire? Most of us would rather see a a polished-looking individual in a white lab coat -- because that's what we expect from a legitimate healthcare professional. Well, if you're promoting your services in a professional field, how you craft your marketing content, from tone to terminology, makes all the difference in how your clients perceive you. But some professional pose special hurdles of their own, and you may find yourself struggling to strike the right balance. Let's look at how you can optimize your marketing writing for your particular profession.

Emotional Tone

Setting the right emotional tone is a critical first step for anyone in the "trust business." If you want people to entrust you with their general health, teeth, personal finances, legal issues, business security or whatever, you have to write content that projects a mix of reassurance, encouragement, and empathy. For instance, have you ever scared yourself to death looking up Internet articles on this or that health symptom? You probably uncovered a blizzard of articles that took a severe, alarmist, worst-case scenario attitude to the subject. Just as a doctor understands the value of a proper bedside manner, you must emphasize that you understand the client's problem, you sympathize with his situation, and you can apply your skill and expertise to help ease that discomfort.

Intellectual Level

Consider the intellectual "mood music" you're including in your content. Of course you want to assure the world that you're intelligent, well-educated, and knowledgable in your field. But as I pointed out in a previous post, overly-technical terminology can put up obstacles instead of getting readers on your side. I've written for attorneys who wanted me to refer readers to specific court decisions -- citation numbers and all. Unless their clients are aspiring lawyers, that strategy is more likely to drive ordinary people away than to draw them in. On the other end of the scale, if you make an obvious attempt to "dumb down" your content, you're potentially insulting your readers. Keep it simple, keep it clear, and let the knowledge shine through.

Professional Protocols

Last but not least, think about whether your content reflects honorably on your chosen profession. For example, are you making inappropriate promises? There's a huge range of commitment between "we will," "we can," and "we may" in a piece of marketing content. Depending on the rules of your profession, you may be highly limited in what you're allowed to offer or how you're allowed to offer it. On the other hand, if your content has no backbone at all, your reader may wonder why you even bothered stating anything. Make sure you know the rules of the game, whatever those may be for your field, and stay inside the lines. But commit to the bottom line: doing everything in  your power to help those who need your professional expertise.

Choose the right "suit of clothes" for your professional marketing content, and you'll make it a lot easier for people to trust you, understand you, and take you seriously. If you need a professional writer's expertise to help you make that happen, you know who to contact!