As a former homebuilder (and a marketer), I know how easy it is to get so used to a homebuilding marketing message that you aren’t even sure how it sounds to someone else. I know that if I repeat something often enough it eventually sounds “normal” to me. I know what I mean when I use certain words, and it’s easy to assume that the people I’m trying to communicate with understand things exactly as I do.
Looking back, I suspect there were times when former clients wondered if we were even speaking the same language!
It’s helpful to take a step back and evaluate your marketing efforts. Sometimes you need to look at your messages from a slightly different perspective (your prospects’ point of view) to see if the right message is getting through. But how can you do that if you’re so familiar with your own message that you’re no longer objective and don’t even recognize when you’re using insider jargon rather than presenting a clear message?
Here’s a suggestion for evaluating your marketing efforts that can help you eliminate the “bull” from your messaging—and make sure you’re talking to prospects in a way that makes sense to them.
Pull members of your team together (not just marketing and sales) for a game of “Marketing Bull.” If possible, use a big screen to make it easy for everyone to see, and go through your company website as a group. If you have some trusted colleagues from outside your industry, ask them to join you.
Read every page out loud. Whenever you encounter a phrase or a concept that’s vague, meaningless, confusing or flat-out wrong, someone gets to yell, “BULL!” If you want, you can keep score and award some kind of prize to the person with the best “Bull Detector.”
The idea isn’t to humiliate your marketing team, so another option instead of yelling, “Bull!” every time you come across a phrase or concept that’s unclear or presumptive, you could simply use a bell or a clicker or something else that makes a noise. The real point of this exercise is to highlight phrases within your marketing messages that are ambiguous, unhelpful or even misleading.
But don’t stop there. It’s not enough to identify verbiage as insider jargon or vague “marketing-speak.” Talk about what the concept is really about. What point are you really trying to make? Here are a couple of quick examples.
We build quality into every ACME home!
“Bull!” That may actually be a true statement, but what does it mean? What does quality look like? How does it affect the homeowner? What specifically do you do that your competitors don’t? Where will homeowners see the quality?
You always get more with an ACME-built home!
“Bull!” Again, it’s possible that you offer more than your competitors, but what is it exactly? More what? More size, more finishes, more choices? Do you offer more of what really matters to the customer? If you do, spell it out specifically.
Homeowners want to do business with a company they can trust. If they don’t understand what you’re offering, how can they trust you? Think through what it is you have to offer and make sure your prospects understand what they’re getting when they do business with you.