The fallacy of today’s marketing messages

balance

Today’s marketing messages take on many forms – better, safer, longer lasting, friendlier or cheaper. Or it can take on the form of more as in more value or the most legroom in economy class or even as best as in the best in class customer service.

It is remarkable at just how many brands still rely on these kinds of marketing messages that are simply not believable to sell their wares.

Most people today have a bank account that you access online. To hear banks say it, they have better online banking or the best mobile app. All of them claim some form of best but how does a consumer know that’s true? It’s difficult to compare one versus the other because banks typically don’t allow you to use their services until you are an account holder. So given that, coupled with the fact that all banks claim to have better online services, are any of the statements true? How do prospective consumers know, particularly if they are happy with their current online banking? (The definition of a switching trigger is switching for something you don’t already have.)

For the most part, online banking is now just part of banking – everyone has it and everyone does it pretty well. Pretty well is used here rather than great because, in banking, pretty well is enough as the hassle to switch banks is so high. And research clearly shows that a customer has to be basically beyond their wit’s end end to even consider switching.

This is the problem with most of marketing messages, not just with banks, but with the vast majority of brands. When brands claim to be better, the most, the best or whatever, the only time that can possibly be meaningful to a prospect is at the exact point of failure of the current brand. If these statements were so powerful than the best, measured by science, would always win and logic would dictate that there would be only one or two brands per category.

But we all know that is not the case.

As consumers decide which products and services to buy, they use any number of criteria to make their decision. Cost vs value figured into it, but even that is different for each individual. Marketers claim that they can measure this, but in truth this mix is as fluid as the ocean, ebbing and flowing with the tide. Much like today’s marketing messages, these marketers are simply measuring something that isn’t really there.

This is the rub of all of this, truth. Saying better, best and the like can actually be measured and, if truth actually mattered, it could be proven.

Something more powerful than truth in marketing messages

Marketing Messages TodayBut there is something much more powerful than truth – belief. You see, beliefs do not have to be true to be powerful. They just have to be believed. Every war that has ever been waged in the world was based on a belief – religious, economic, social, you name it. Belief is something that people are willing to die and kill for. That’s how powerful belief is.

But most marketers forget, overlook or simply ignore the power of belief. They stop short and only look to satisfy simple wants and needs that are constantly in flux. While belief isn’t completely unwavering, it is much more cemented into the fabric of what make individuals individuals. At their core, beliefs guide us in almost every decision we make.

There are many different kinds of beliefs beyond those above that have been used as an excuse to wage war. Clearly that is the most extreme of examples. But there are beliefs that power our actions. Do you believe that time is your most valuable resource? Or do you believe that if you are not keeping up you are falling behind? Those are the kinds of beliefs that marketers must align their brand with.

If you believe that time is your most valuable resource, think about the decisions you make in your life and how they are a reflection of this belief. Are you constantly on the lookout for ways to save time or do things faster? Do you use products or services that help you achieve that? The answer is certainly yes.

The trick here is in identifying which belief or beliefs apply to your target audience, made up of your customers and, more importantly, those that do not currently use you. Then, you articulate that belief into a single emotionally intensive statement. This can never be about the brand itself. It is about those the brand wishes to influence.

Aligning your brand with a belief gives your brand gravitas and tells consumers who it is for and who it is not for, giving consumers a reason and true choice and why they should care about it in the first place. It makes being better even less important because the brand becomes about them. Consumers choose brands that they believe are a reflection of who they are, not brands who say best, friendly, cheap and the rest of the non-effective marketing messages.