New, Meaning-Free Marketing

If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one around to hear it, did it make a sound? That’s the classic and fairly famous philosophical question and the second most famous “in the woods” question (the first involves the preferred restroom of bears). But in marketing here’s the thing — if YOU receive a targeted marketing message from a sender and don’t understand it, then WHY on earth was it sent out? Why indeed!

Here are a few examples of meaningless marketing that companies create and inflict on audiences:

Vision/Mission Statements — These went out with pleated pants in the 90’s yet some companies and old-school marketing firms still create them. Here’s a quick tip – No one cares about your mission, they ONLY care about their own needs and how your thing might possibly help them get closer to their thing. Don’t have a mission statement unless you take out all of the “we” and “us” pronouns and substitute for “our customers” “our audience,” etc. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) should be ALL about them or it’s 100 percent worthless.

CEO Quotes in Press Releases — Man, there are words strung together where the quote should be, but I challenge you to find any meaning. Words like “upward trajectory” and “synergies” are used, but unless you’re trying to set up the perfect card in Buzzword Bingo, just speak like a human would and try to deliver an opinion or unique thought that could really only appear in a quote. Or, better yet — leave it out because if your quote sucks, then reporters will definitely be happy to handle this part for you.

Marketing Sounding Language — For this, I include cutesy words that all start with the same letter and end up saying nothing or just those dumb words and phrases that can only come from marketing like “disruption” and “turnkey solution” (FYI — NEVER use solution — it’s trite). Really anything that SOUNDS like it was written by the marketing or PR department should be closely reviewed and promptly canned. Instead, let’s SOUND like humans. Novel I realize, but give it a try. And for your futher reading enjoyment, here’s a list from Spin Sucks of PR and Marketing Buzzwords that need to die.

And here’s the main point — Marketing is about trust and relationships—and every single time you hit send to a single person or en masse on behalf of an organization, you’re at risk of damaging or ending that relationship. (Yes, it should be pretty scary every time). The good news is that you also could build and strengthen those relationships and create new ones. But it’s all in the choices made before it’s sent. So make it clear and make it great (for them). Then your audience will keep riding along with YOUR brand for a little while longer!