Slogan Sandwich: Messages Have Layers

 Yesterday, as I drove past a deli in my neighborhood, I saw a banner advertising a brand of lunchmeat.

The sign read: “Take Back Lunch” with the company logo below.

Maybe my mind is wired differently than most, but I immediately thought that if you have to “take back” your lunch, then you must’ve lost your lunch for some reason.

Hmmm…

Associating “losing your lunch” with a line of deli meats may not have been the marketing team’s direct intention. Nonetheless, it follows the train of thought of some consumers.

I’m sure this company wanted to encourage people to pack their lunch, to make time for themselves while enjoying a great sandwich using their meats and cheeses. But so many other slogans could accomplish this goal without a hint of… well, vomiting.

On the bright side, it did get my attention… and it certainly helped tattoo the brand on my brain. It’s probably just not the initial impression they were looking for.

Moral of the story: Don’t be so married to a slogan that you block out other interpretations of your message. Invite opinions, test it out, and be open to the feedback. It helps build a stronger message… and that’s what it’s all about.

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The Marketing F-word: Focus

  Many small businesses make marketing changes on blind faith. They read a business book, or hear the gurus say things like “Change is good.” So they ponder and plan, then launch themselves into uncharted waters.

One of my favorite cliches is “You can’t expect different results by doing things the same way.” But you do have to be smart about it. And there’s a single element that can make all the difference, for more intelligent marketing.

It’s called Focus. Pick your path… one path… and go with it.

Those trash-mouthed marketing folks throw this F-word around all the time. But for some small businesses, Focus really is a dirty word. They remain stuck in neutral because of fear – fear of the changes that come when honing in on a single specialty area, or fear that their business will suffer by not promoting all of their services. No matter what the experts tell them, they truly believe that changing their marketing, focusing on the one thing they do best is too risky, or too expensive.

When you’re a small business trying to make a dent in your market, it’s vital to take a clean, focused approach. Of course part of you wants to cling to old ways and old ideas. So you hesitate… you want to hedge your bets… cut your losses. Bad idea.

Only when you focus in a single concept in your marketing messages will you begin to see better results.

Advertising and marketing is all about teaching your audience about your brand. It’s kinda like college. Offer a lecture of too many topics and your “class” of clients will glaze over, zone out, and forget everything you just said. But stick to a single focused topic and you have a much stronger chance of the message taking hold.

Focus also goes beyond mere slogans and tagline messages. Better results come from having a strong identity… knowing what you do best, and for whom. Marketing that reveals your confidence, along with a clear message, only strengthens your marketing approach.

That tricky F-word can make all the difference.


Death of the fluffy tagline

I witnessed some “interesting” advice on taglines the other day. Last Saturday, I attended a leadership training for a volunteer organization. One of the handouts included an article about crafting your personal tagline, written by a woman who probably could use some tagline help herself. 

According to the article, she says:
My tagline for my counseling and coaching practice is this: “The permissionary – a visionary realist to help you discover and manifest your dreams.”

Maybe it’s me, but when I read that, I only see her as a phony-bologna constultant who’s full of beans. That’s probably not the look she was going for.

Can a visionary be a realist? (although I like the play on words by itself) Is permissionary a real word, and do I need to look it up? (I did… and it’s obscure.)

C’mon here! Let’s get real.

Perhaps a better approach is to take your “full of beans” tagline and dissect it to get at the heart of what you want people to know about your business – in language that makes sense to them. Save the fluff for your mission statement.

This sample tagline uses lofty vanilla concepts, and it’s a bit too long to be memorable. It’s time to boil it down to what’s essential… simplify it… and then say it.

Off the top of my head, I’d rather see something like:
“Dream… Plan… Do.”
“Your Dreams… with a Deadline.” 
“Get There, Faster.”
“Visionary Realists”
“Giving Focus to Your Life’s Vision.”
“Your Destiny by Design”

Okay, that’s enough for now. I could do this all day. (In fact… I DO do this all day at Slogan Studio.) 

So what do you think? What tagline would you suggest to our wordy consultant friend? Which one do you like best and why? And as I come up with more, I’ll post them in the comments.


It looks good… but is it rotten?

I take my sayings seriously. In fact, I really do eat an apple a day. Our refrigerator in the garage is loaded with soda and beer… and apples. But in our Ohio winters, what looks like beautiful fresh fruit sometimes goes bad without us realizing it. Only after you cut into it do you see the brown streaks and mush at the core.

Your marketing is like apples in February.  Slogans, taglines and headlines are at the core. So how fresh and firm are your messages? How solid is the language you’re sending out in your persuasive push for more business? Has your goodness gone bad, without you realizing it?

On his recent blog post, “How would you rate this headline?” (http://bly.com/blog), Bob Bly shares what seems like a pretty good headline for outer-envelope copy… that is, until you consider the intended audience. And once you consider the audience, you see that it’s actually a pretty lame choice of words. The company sending it invested thousands and thousands of dollars in a campaign that will most likey fall short – all because of a repulsive (yes, I did say repulsive) line of copy, causing the letter to be ignored and discarded. 

So take a close look at your marketing message, no matter how insignificant you think it may be – from envelopes to postcards, from letterhead to email signatures. See how attractive your taglines are to the people you want to do business with.

And if you’re surrounded by “bad apples” and lame messages, maybe it’s time for a fresh approach.