Let’s be honest. Your marketing efforts are futile if you haven’t sorted this one thing.

Digital marketing is plagued by an epidemic of “shiny new object” syndrome.

We all want to be on the bandwagon for the latest thing: stories, questions, videos. Yes, these are important content types, but your marketing efforts are built on one foundation. This foundation needs to be stable before construction of your campaigns can go forward and be sound.

I’ll ask you a question.

What do all the following have in common?

  • A YouTube video
  • A Facebook ad
  • A podcast
  • A sales page
  • A leaflet
  • A Tweet

These may seem like very different media. What could a YouTube video have in common with a leaflet? One is on paper and one has moving images on a screen. You can’t even look at a podcast and it has nothing in common with a boring old Tweet.

Think a little deeper.

All of the above is based on language. You listen to words on a podcast or a video. You view copy on a sales page and likewise read it on a leaflet.

Our words and language are the essence of our marketing.

There is no use having a beautiful website, a polished video and thousands of ads being replayed to the internet ether if you don’t have something interesting to say.

It’s a marketing fundamental, but one which is too easily forgotten once you spot a shiny new object and are trying to wrap your head around it.

Or perhaps you feel so under pressure from your boss to sell, sell, sell that all you can think to create messaging for is sales. The result? Heavy-handed calls-to-action that frighten off any potential custom you once had.

So, to recalibrate your good marketer compass, I’m going to give you a few things to think about. 

Tip 1: Put the customer at the heart of the copy

Let’s face it, we are a vain species, and we loving nothing more than talking about ourselves.

As Dale Carnegie put it: A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Well, you might not know their names (unless you are using some cookie to personalise the user experience. But if your customer is new to your business, that is going to be perceived as creepy.)

As a good substitute for using their name, make sure you have researched people like them and you have enough intel to know their pain points. Even if you pitch it from your own perspective, then you can elicit empathy, which warms the reader to you.

Tip 2: Talk about the problem

It’s obvious that a product has to solve a problem, so you really have to get into your prospect’s shoes at this point to get to the bottom of what their exact need is.

People have all kinds of needs, whether it’s to clean their bathroom tiles more effectively so their friends won’t judge their cleanliness, or to be more successful at work so you can get that promotion, or have more free time to spend with the family or learning a new craft.

Nobody “needs” your product – They have their perceived need, and you need to know what that is.

As Henry Ford is reported to have said, when talking about cars: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Theodore Levitt also had an example of this: People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.

This illustrates perfectly that people might not be aware of their solution, they only know about their need.

Your keyword research needs to take into account the language people use to search for something, not how you describe your product as an industry insider. The ads you produce also need to mirror your reader’s words.

Tip 3: Extol the benefits, not the features

It’s all too tempting to describe the amazing qualities of your product:

  •  All our cars have sun protection glass
  •  All our makeup products are cruelty-free
  •  All our computers come with Norton Anti-Virus

While it might be easy from the above examples what the benefits might be, it is important to highlight the actual benefit in a way that convinces people to consider your product further.

Why buy the car with sun-protection glass? All that time spent on the road vulnerable to all those UV rays can’t be great for your skin, so the sun-protection glass keeps you looking younger for longer.

Your makeup products haven’t been tested on animals. Does that mean your product is any better than ones that have? Probably not. But it appeals to the better person you want to be: the kind of person who isn’t party to unnecessary suffering to animals.

Your computer comes with Anti-Virus. Who cares? It is very important to protect your computer because if you don’t, you could lose all your photos, music and work files to a rogue computer programme. In addition, it could cost you a fair old amount to get your computer back up and running. Save yourself future pain with a small insurance against the most common cyber-attacks.

Think about your products and the types of benefits you offer.

Tip 4: Understand their motivations

The example of the cruelty-free makeup shows, that while there is no direct benefit to you personally wearing cruelty-free makeup (your skin won’t look any different to with a different foundation brand, it may still cause allergies, it might not have great coverage), it helps validate your image of how you want to be perceived.

Digital marketer Ryan Deiss claims he knows the one thing everyone is looking for when they buy a product. It’s not more wealth; it’s “transformation”.

So, if you buy a Porsche, it’s not really that you want a Porsche, it’s that you want to be a person that people look at and admire.

If you choose to study with the Open University, you don’t want a degree in Psychology, you want to change your life. When you make this investment, you believe this qualification will help you get a job that pays well so you can buy your own home in a nice area where your kids will be safe growing up.

You have to realise the internal motivations at play that convince people to buy. Perhaps your logistics business may not seem as though it is something that would change people’s lives dramatically, but if it makes someone’s life easier so they have fewer bad days at work, less stress and fewer incidences of ill-health, your service is still making a positive change.

Motivations could be rooted in something less honourable, such as the desire to make neighbours jealous with your weed-free lawn or satisfy some curiosity with the latest gossip magazine. Whatever it is, you can pique their interest with language that hints at their inner feelings.

Tip 5: Appeal to their logical side

The decision-making process is complicated. If at this point, a person is still reading your sales page or watching your video but hasn’t made that jump to the payment page, perhaps they have a few questions.

Once you have hooked the customer emotionally, you need to validate their emotions with cold hard facts as to why they should take the plunge and move to the checkout.

This could be in the form of statistics: “Switching to us from a traditional energy supplier can save the average household £354.23 a year.”

Or a testimonial: “Before I tried this diet, I’d tried many fads and lost weight only to put it all back on within a year. Now, I’m happy to say I’ve maintained my target weight for three years and I can still enjoy all the food I love!”

Tip 6: Counter objections

Objections are often things like money, not having the time, being too busy. You know the reasons people reject your product, so you can prepare your riposte.

If they have no money, you can suggest a payment plan over time, a discount or a money-back guarantee.

One argument many online marketers use is “you can’t afford not to by this”. If you can summarise the price versus the cost of not buying, this can be a persuasive argument.

Or, as happens a lot in the world of digital training, they offer a discount first of all, then give away a few bonuses. Then at the end, they serve you with a summary of the recommended retail value of all the materials in exact figures, and then say: “It’s that money versus the cost of you figuring it all out by yourself and spending money on lots of other courses that waste your time.”

A money back guarantee comforts the buyer that all is not lost if they find the product or service wasn’t what they expected.

Tip 7: Don’t forget your call-to-action

Your advertising piece is pointless if you don’t tell the customer what to do next, so don’t forget to include instructions such as a “call to action” button or an email form.

Your language is your best tool, and while you won’t be able to fit all of this advice into a small Facebook ad, if you take the customer and their problem as your starting point, you can lead them to a page or a video which explains more.

If you use the best imagery for your branding, the most state of the art technology for your YouTube video and your website has the fastest loading speed in the world, not of it will work if your message doesn’t resonate. Therefore, get your copy right first and foremost and the rest of your marketing and be developed on this solid foundation.