“Read it again,” my coworker said about a draft campaign email I was particularly pleased with.
"I did. I love it!"
"Read it out loud this time," she said.
So I read it out loud, right up to the powerful payoff:
"We're not going ANYWHERE!"
When working at S1 years ago, we sought to emphasize our size and stability. We were the first to market with internet banking, had a lot of cash in the bank, and wanted to be recognized as a strong bet against smaller technology upstarts.
So I crafted a message that invited community and mid-sized banks to latch onto our rising star of innovation and stability in front-end banking delivery.
The star that Wasn't. Going. Anywhere.
We were able to correct it for that campaign and laugh it off, even crafting some similar new taglines for fun:
Stand Still With Us
Your Partner in Inertia
S1. Stay Where You Are Because Tomorrow is Scary
Goofing aside, it provided a lasting reminder for me that all of our marketing words matter. In every form, your marketing content should show your market that you understand their needs and challenges and have answers worth discussing. A few quick tips to help make sure your words say what you want them to:
Read It Out Loud
My S1 colleague spared me some embarrassment by having me read the words aloud. I had read and re-read the words so many times that it locked in my perception of them. As soon as I said "We're not going anywhere!" out loud, it was clear that made us sound stagnant, not stable.
And reading your marketing content out loud improves your writing beyond just preventing gaffes. Here Fast Company founder and editor Bill Taylor explains how reading the words aloud can make important content stronger and more memorable--our constant mission in marketing.
Build From Your Core Messaging
The S1 stability message had emerged from several buying barriers we were seeing. It was a strong position, legitimate and unique among competitors. But we were introducing it on the fly, in a campaign that was also hastily constructed.
It was a typical reactive marketing effort meant to chase small fires while the forest burned.
Always reach back to your brand messaging pillars to keep your content focused and compelling, and figure out how to work new ideas into your existing strong messaging framework.
Write for Your Audience, with Purpose
We constantly respond to urgent demands for marketing content. Even in a rush, even if it's just a short email or digital ad copy, take a breath and remember who your audience is and what job you're hiring this content to do.
Every new idea should fit into your existing brand narrative. If it doesn't, you're just creating stray words and ideas that do not connect with your audience.