I just got an email from a company that exemplifies how bad branding can be made even worse with poor marketing decisions. The company will remain nameless since its name is immaterial. Its actions, however, are worth noting.
The company has a severe product branding problem: No one understands what its product does, which the author of the email readily admits. Its solution to the problem is worth mentioning because it exemplifies on several levels what not to do.
1. If you think maybe you shouldn’t say something, don’t say it.
The emails begins, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but…” If you think what you’re about to say might be a mistake, it probably is. The lead-in also undermines the purpose of this campaign which is to build confidence and understanding.
2. If you’re going to bash content-free marketing, provide content.
The email continues, “for years it’s been a challenge to tell the marketplace exactly what our [product] can do in an easy-to-understand, concise way that rises above the buzz words and catchy taglines so many vendors are using.” I agree buzz words and taglines become monotonous when everyone adapts the same language but…read what follows.
“Because the truth is, [our product] is not like any other solution out there and is capable of so much more than the [competitive products] the market is used to.” I still don’t know anything more about the product. It is simply being presented as the best with no proof points. Some people call that “hand waving.” I call it content-free marketing.
And now for the finale…
3. If it takes a 3 minute video to explain what should be said in a sentence, Heaven help you.
Videos are great educational tools but few people are going to want to spend even 3 minutes watching a video for the sole <ahem> benefit of inferring an easy-to-understand positioning statement. Whenever someone takes the time to view a video, in the back of their minds they’re asking, “What’s in it for me?” And if the benefit they expect isn’t there, the dropoff rates and points will explain why.
If an audience doesn’t understand a product, the better marketing strategy is to find a more concise way of explaining it. If a product can’t be explained simply in an email would you sit through a 3-minute video hoping to infer what it does? Neither would I.