How the Language of Marketing Undermines its Value




Marketers constantly fall in love with new tools, we call them “shiny objects.” This mental habit has transferred onto the words we use to talk about our work. Executives use a different set of words to describe the business.
The discrepancy in language creates a disconnect in expectations. When we use fancy words to jazz up what we do, we inadvertently cut the results timeline by minimizing the effort that goes into the work. We’ve trained financial and business executives to think that what we do is magic
If we want to regain credibility, it’s not enough to say we’re focused on return on investment (ROI). Because when we say that, a curtain comes down in front of everyone’s eyes—it says, campaign ROI.
We measure executive effectiveness in years, and marketing results in weeks and months.

We had a mission and vision

 Our mission dictated the company’s goal and the operational and strategic intent we could use to give context, urgency, and meaning to our daily actions. Strong mission statements told everyone what’s going on.
Amazon’s mission statement “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.” The company’s vision is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online” completes the business picture.
Alibaba Group’s mission is “To make it easy to do business anywhere.” The vision, “We aim to build the future infrastructure of commerce. We envision that our customers will meet, work and live at Alibaba, and that we will be a company that lasts at least 102 years."
It’s fairly easy to see the differences between the two businesses—how they operate, and future direction—just by looking at these statements. Would you be able to tell the company by reading the statements? That’s how good they need to be.
Then mission became purpose. Gallup says a company’s purpose is more than a mission statement or a vision cast from the C-suite. A company’s purpose is a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business.

The challenge is walking the talk, and aligning everyone to deliver on it. Employees and customers end up not feeling it.

How copywriting became storytelling

It’s tempting to bring up how secretaries became assistants, then executive assistants, how coordinators became specialists, and so on. Copywriters thus became storytellers.

Except for story is one way to explain things. We also have contracts, agreements, terms and conditions, policies, and dozens other type of messages, from phone scripts to frequently-asked questions and everything in between.
Once upon a time, there was a ____. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___ and Pixar's other rules of storytellingmay not be appropriate for those kinds of writing.
Or, to try another framework. A character, has a problem, and meets a guide, who gives them a plan, and calls them to action, that helps them avoid failure, and ends in success sounds really good. Because it says people want your brand to participate in their transformation. Do they?
Story or not, our job is still to write with clarity to communicate an important message, and get it across to our intended audience. Does reducing everything to story mean we don’t need clarity in those other message types?

Why brand is a business asset

Because the brand is what customers think of the company based on the business decisions it makes. It's also the interactions with everyone who works there as they interpret those decisions through their work.
When Southwest Airlines says, “Bags Fly Free,” it’s saying we made a business decision, our check in staff will check up to two bags without charging you for them. As a customer, you may choose them because you've got bags. This example doesn’t go far enough to explain, but may give you an idea.
When you turn around and measure what happens to a brand you need to consider all company functions. What do legal contracts look like? What’s the impression of those hiring practices? And down the line to operations, finance, and yes customer service.
It’s not enough to look at a net promoter score (NPS). Where you are mentioned and who mentions you factor in—are they enough, are they the right ones? What are their biases? Who comes up in association with you matters. Are there product or service issues? How are operations going?
If we keep measuring campaign metrics—awareness, views, reach, conversion, etc.—we make it hard on ourselves to connect brand value to the business in the words business understands. We need to dig a little deeper and understand what would move value in significant financial terms.
Sometimes you don’t need more awareness, what you need is to move toward the right kind of perception. Is your industry struggling with customer experience? Forget trust stuff, focus on superior delivery consistently and trust will take care of itself.
Brand is an action verb. Chose the right actions, and you see financial output.
More words, buzz words, and cool tools don’t increase credibility. Using the most appropriate words does.

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