Cover-Your-Ass Marketing

by | Sep 9, 2013

Have you ever seen an ad with too many bullet points? Or a powerpoint? Or web page? Who decided to throw every possible brand attribute onto one page? What happened during the creative process that left the customer with so much reading to do?

Here’s how it goes. Once the marketing department comes up with their ideas to position the company, they need to sell them upstream. So they try to get internal buy-in from the rest of the corporate team. Disagreements and infighting ensues. And then the adding begins:

  • “Let’s add that we’re eco friendly”
  • “Don’t forget to mention that award we won last year”
  • “Make sure we touch on our customer satisfaction levels”
  • “We should add our partner logos for validation”
  • “Remember to say we’ve been in business for 20 years.”
  • “We just renewed our Better Business Bureau membership, we should include that”
  • “Let’s just briefly mention our sustainability initiatives”

The culprit here is likely a discussion focused around “what if?” where paranoid marketers fear they’ll leave something out, or not explain something fully. But if this is the thought process then you’ve already failed, because your marketing is focused around “what ifs” instead of benefits. Because the marketer is afraid of being “called out” by the customer.

That’s right, sometimes, marketers are afraid of their customers (or potential customers). In general, fear stems from a lack of understanding, and this scenario is no different. If you don’t fully understand your customer, then you will be more apt to throw the kitchen sink of marketing messages at them, in hopes of covering the spread. It’s bird shot at best. And represents either a complete misunderstanding of the customer or the complete disfunction of an internal team to agree on a message. Either way the customer loses and is hit with yet another benign piece of corporate indecisiveness.

So stop it. It’s ruining your marketing and dulling your brand. Instead, put a stake in the ground and shove one succinct message in your target demo’s face. If it doesn’t work, re-evaluate and try something else.  But don’t fall into this CYA marketing pitfall. Every extra bullet point you squeeze in dilutes the message’s overall power.

As Lee Clow says “Most ads barely communicate one message well. Let’s not push our luck with two.”



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