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The Toughest Challenge in Market Communications

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Television

–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications

Two of the most important elements of communicating with target markets are to make relevant arguments and to make them memorable.

Most of the time, these simple goals are difficult to meet because of the clutter of competing voices in the marketplace. Yet, there’s a third element that is at least as important, and arguably more so, than these two.

It is to inextricably link the memory of the argument with the specific product or service, or with the company that made it.

That is very, very difficult for most companies. But if you can pull it off, the payback on the investment is substantially increased.

For context, market communications include advertising, website, direct marketing, collateral (both physical and electronic), presentations…the whole enchilada aimed at prospects and customers.

Let’s take advertising as the example, and specifically, advertising for the vast majority of companies that don’t enjoy the advantages of being a well-known brand.

Most often, the product or service is only one of many apparently comparable options for the target audience. The usual approach, then, is to tout the difference between yours and theirs. We’re faster, better, larger, cheaper…

The drawback is that all the claims then begin to look the same. So the next step is to come up with some distinctive and more memorable way to present the info. These can be really entertaining; fun to watch, and definitely memorable. The question, though, and hence, the tough challenge, is to create something that’s memorable not only for “what” happened, but also for “who” did it.

Here’s a quick example of a terrific and memorable creative idea:

During this past Super Bowl, Terry Bradshaw had a stain on his shirt. Over a series of spread-out “episodes,” Terry got the stain out of his shirt, and then verged on staining it again. It was unexpected and hilarious. What was the product being advertised?

Now here’s a quick example of a terrific and memorable creative idea that is inextricably linked to the advertiser:

In the 1995 Super Bowl ad, what beer were the frogs advertising?

For me, that frog ad is the gold standard. It’s the one I keep in mind every time I’m working on positioning, messaging, and creative solutions for my clients. Although there are very few real opportunities to reach that standard, trying to do so invariably leads to better-quality ideas.