There you are with a decent glass of wine in your hand.
Across the table sits a decent looking stranger. You’ve paid a decent amount of money to meet people like him or her, so let’s get started.
Stranger: I’m the youngest partner in my firm. My BMI is nineteen. I have a degree from the LSE and I’m sending my niece to college because my brother is a bum. I just finished rehabbing a bungalow in East Atlanta and I’m on the board of Oxfam America.
You: I’m sorry. I’m getting a frantic text from my parakeet sitter.
If you met a self-absorbed, egotistical, narcissistic jerk like that at a speed-dating session, you’d probably leave. But, as marketers, we’re often guilty of being just as jerky. We have seconds to make an impression on our target audience with our ad, email or whatever, so we just dump facts and features
about our brand all over them. We gush about how great our offering is. And we’re surprised when they leave.
Here’s a different way to approach the creation of marketing messages, using a technique called Message Architecture. You build messages from the bottom up, using a three-tiered template like this one:
It’s not all about you, you know.
The foundation of Message Architecture is We’re Great. This is where we put all the stuff we love to talk about. Ours is the best, the biggest, the oldest, the newest. A lot of marketers seem to believe, “If we can just tell potential customers everything about how great our offering is, they’ll love what we’re selling just as much as we do.”
Yeah. It does look pretty silly when you write it down like that, doesn’t it?
The middle level, We Can Do Great Things For You, is where we turn our great facts and features into benefits for our potential customers. But we need to know that the benefits we’re creating are relevant ones. This is where even the most rudimentary audience insight research can be helpful.
Take a Marketing Lesson from a 13th-Century Friar
Way back around 1240 AD, Giles of Assisi wrote “…blessed is he who seeks to understand before being understood.”
So, how well do we really understand the people we want to sell to? Sure, we understand them demographically. But when a person is shopping (I use that term in the broadest sense), whether it’s for legal representation, business services, bird food, sheet metal screws or lunch, he or she is being driven by needs that are much deeper than the mere need for an attorney or a sandwich.
We call these hidden drivers Emotivations™, the emotions that motivate actions1. And if you understand the Emotivations driving your potential customers, your task of standing out from your competitors and closing a sale is going to be a lot easier.
It’s important to understand that, while Message Architecture is built from the bottom up, your audience perceives it from the top down. Lead with a demonstration of how well you “get” what your audience is really shopping for and they’ll stick around long enough to get to know you.
Bill Mount is Insights and Strategy Director for The Crafton Group, Inc., a marketing and creative collective composed of senior practitioners in every aspect of contemporary marketing and communications, including research, strategy, design, advertising and media.
1 Emotivation is term coined and trademarked by The Crafton Group. But the idea of people being driven by hidden, emotional needs is not a theory. It’s an accepted concept that drives the decision-making behind every successful marketing program. We’d love to tell you more about it.