If your customers aren’t responding to your message, it’s time to look in the mirror.
Marketing can be a scary word for businesses. It brings to mind big budgets. Dedicated resources. Time sucks. And when it’s all said and done, what if your marketing doesn’t perform? It’s all rooted in an age-old problem:
“How do I make customers care about what I’m selling?”
You don’t. (But don’t close this post just yet. I promise there’s good news coming!)
People aren’t naturally interested in products or services. Especially if they feel like they’re being sold to.
What they do care about is simple. They care about themselves. So if you’re trying to get the attention of your customers, don’t hold up your product. Hold up a mirror.
Every message your business sends out should act as a marketing mirror. Your customers should be able to see themselves (and how their lives could be better or easier) in your brand.
And it’s not hard to do if you know what makes a message effective. The 4Cs of Message Strategy are the perfect way to help your audience “C” themselves. Because the things that make a good mirror also make a good message.
The message reflects the reader
Imagine looking into a mirror and seeing another person look back. Creepy. And not helpful at all. It’s not a mirror you’d spend much time in front of.
Now imagine you look into that mirror and a box of cookies looks back. Or a lawn mower. Even worse, right?
Your communications shouldn’t be focused on your brand or your product. They should be customer-centric.
Reflecting the user is the natural advantage of a mirror. But it takes work (and often, fighting your instincts or bad habits) to make your message about your customers. A good first place to start? Check the subject of your sentences. If it’s your audience, you’re on the right track. If the subject is your business, it’s probably time to re-think your positioning.
The message is clear
Have you ever gone to fix your hair straight out of the shower, only to find your mirror fogged up? If you can’t see clearly, the mirror isn’t usable.
And if your audience can’t clearly understand the point of your message, it’s not usable, either. Here are a few things that cloud your message:
• Multiple calls-to-action. Just give your audience one thing to do.
• Jargon or big words. Talk like your audience talks.
• Complicated instructions. Make the next steps easy.
The message has something worth seeing
In my experience, mirrors always offer something compelling. (I mean, just look at that headshot up near the byline. *chef’s kiss*) It’s human nature to notice your own reflection. So if your message is customer-centric, it’s already at least a little compelling.
But mirrors are even more useful when something extra catches your attention. Like when you notice a blemish. When you’re having a bad hair day. Or when you’re getting ready for a big date.
These things draw you to the mirror. So your message should be working to draw in your audience, too. There are lots of ways to make your message more compelling, but there are also some easy places to start:
• Feature images. Faces, babies, and puppies are known engagement-drivers — as long as they’re relevant.
• Use strong verbs. Clear, directive language commands attention and gives you authority. This list is a good example.
• Appeal to emotions. Make your audience feel something!
• Tell stories. A picture is worth a thousand words. A story is worth a billion of the best-written descriptions.
The message is accurate and reliable
Not all mirrors are created equal. You don’t see funhouse mirrors hanging in public restrooms. Because while it’s a fun novelty, a distorted image defeats the real purpose of the mirror. The reflection is out of control.
If your message is out of control, it’s not going to be as impactful as it could be. It might even give your audience a distorted view of your entire brand. So you need to make sure that every message is intentional and disciplined. For instance, you should:
• Fact check your sources.
• Maintain brand consistency.
• Include any necessary references or legal disclaimers.
• Look for spelling and grammar errors.
• Test your links, phone numbers, and URLS.
Your brand strategy should be grounded in messages that work as mirrors.
Many brands ask “How can we look good for customers?”
That’s the wrong question. When you can show your customers how they look good with you in their lives, you’ve got the right message.
Mirror messages make marketing less scary. Because a message that is customer-centric, clear, compelling, and controlled gets results. And if you need help crafting that message, we know some experts you can talk to.
Just remember: If you want to engage your audience, don’t focus on being a better marketer. Focus on being a better mirror.