from Pantperthog to Knockando

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dissecting bad marketing: When people forget WIIFM

The golden rule, cardinal rule, absolute must do, total imperative of marketing is this: it is all about your customer.

There's an acronym: WIIFM. What's In It For Me? When a prospect reads your copy they should know what the BENEFIT will be to them from buying your product or service.

It is that simple.

I got this email recently from a company. I started reading it, got bored and deleted it. Then I thought 'Actually, this would make a case study of poor marketing.'

Here's the email with the identifiers removed:

Dear Jon,
We are delighted to announce that in 2016 we shall be celebrating our 30th Anniversary.

To mark this significant milestone we have given our brand, website and literature a complete makeover; one that we believe helps reflect our heritage and our aspirations.  Our new logo is simpler and cleaner whilst continuing a theme that has represented our business for the past three decades.

We are very proud of our staff, our customers and our products so it is important that our brand represents this; indeed it is through our brand that we get to share with you who we are, what we do and where we are going.

We work across a number of industries and sectors, delivering expertise and software solutions that meet our customers’ needs, which, in turn, helps them achieve their own goals.  We believe our customers have their own unique requirements and they deserve a friendly, adaptable and professional approach.  It is this that drives us and is core to what we do.

We are all very excited about our new look and the opportunity to share more about the work we do and where we are going.  Please take a peek at the new website: [redacted] where you can learn more about our products and services and gain an insight into our mission and goals.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for choosing [redacted] and for your continued support.  We look forward to working ever more closely with you for many more years to come.    
Regards,
So here's your challenge. Tell me:
a) what does that company sell?
b) what benefit I will gain from using their services?
c) what is the point of this email?

Seriously, someone bothered to send me an inbox-clogging email telling me all about how excited they are about their new logo. Wow, a new logo. Big furry deal, as Dogbert would say.

Let's dissect this and see where exactly it falls down.

It starts with my name. That's actually good. Email personalisation helps make emails more readable.

Then it says they are celebrating their 30th birthday. OK. Not important to me.

Then some blah, blah, blah waffle about how great they are and how they plan to celebrate. They use 'our' 10 times and 'we' 6 times before the first use of the word 'you'. That's how much you, the reader matters. The ideal marketing copy would be the reverse of that.

In fact, here are the total word uses
'Our' = 16
'We' = 15
'Us' = 1
'You' = 3
'Your' = 1

That's a ratio of 8:1 (32:4) words about me compared to words about you. There are some glaring missed opportunities to rebalance this. 

"We work across a number of industries and sectors, delivering expertise and software solutions that meet our customers’ needs, which, in turn, helps them achieve their own goals.  We believe our customers have their own unique requirements and they deserve a friendly, adaptable and professional approach.  It is this that drives us and is core to what we do."

could be rewritten as

"By working across a number of industries and sectors, your needs will be met through applied expertise and software solutions that help you achieve your goals.  As a valued customer, you have your own unique requirements and you deserve a friendly, adaptable and professional approach. You'll find this drives us and is core to how we work with you."

That replace a 6:0 ratio of me-you words with a 2:8 ratio. Still not great, but much more compelling and it means exactly the same thing!

I'd also question whether it is through their brand that they share with me who they are, what they do etc. They will probably have to explain all that stuff. Brands are actually very poor communicators. You know what are good communicators?

People.

There is a tendency to see email marketing as less selling and more about building relationships. But this email doesn't even do that because it is totally one-sided. It's not a relationship; it's just them saying stuff, completely oblivious to the needs, wants, feelings of the people they're talking to.

It is also a wasted contact. What is gained by sending an email to all your prospects about something as pants-boringly useless (to me) as your new logo? I can understand you wanting to go 'Squeee!' with excitement, because having a new logo is a BFD to you. But it means nothing to me. Why would I care? What's in it for me?

And even if I accepted this was a useful and relevant thing to be communicating with your customers with, it's not even a good communication because it's all about you. But if you want my attention it should be all about me.

It's the golden rule. Tell me the benefits. Tell me what's in it for me. Otherwise it's just a crap waste of inbox space.

Read more
Put your benefit front and central
Analysing takeaway menus for marketing fails


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