How to Use Clarity in Marketing
Clarity is the first job of the marketer. Successful marketing communications have a clear, solitary marketing message: what’s great about your brand or product. Sure, many people remember the highly attention-getting ads, but the more routine marketing communications do most of the heavy lifting in your average marketing program. And what makes these heavy lifters successful? Clarity.
To create your single, clear message that focuses on your brand’s or product’s best attribute, follow these steps:
Positionthe product in your customers’ minds.
You need the right positioning strategy as a foundation — along with products that follow through on the promises you make. A positioning strategy is a statement of how you want customers to think and feel about your brand, product, or service. It describes how you’re positioned in their minds and hearts.
You can describe your positioning with attributes and adjectives (such as fast, helpful, reliable, or sexy). You can also describe your positioning with comparisons to competitors (faster than a BMW) or metaphorical comparisons (faster than a speeding bullet).
Craft a basic appeal (motivational message) that gets that positioning across.
You need to figure out what you can say that clearly conveys the gist of your positioning strategy. Take the basic statement of how you want people to think of your product and convert it into a message that may actually convince them.
For example, if you want to introduce a new, healthier kind of pizza made solely with organic and low-fat ingredients, your positioning statement may be: “healthier pizza that doesn’t sacrifice taste.” Okay, now craft the basic appeal that may convince others to see the pizza that way.
Here’s a possibility with appeal: “Instead of fighting to keep your kids from eating the unhealthy junk-food pizzas they love, why not give them healthy pizzas that are actually better tasting, too.”
Find a creative idea — something that packages your appeal in a message so compelling that people get it immediately.
The message should persuade people of your point or convince them to give your product or service a shot. Try to find a clear, simple way to state your message that’s also creative enough to make it memorable.
Continuing the example, you’re marketing a pizza positioned for parents as healthy food that their kids will love. Now, what creative idea can you come up with to turn this appeal into a compelling communication? Here are some options:
Mother goes to pick-up window to get prescription for child and is shocked when the pharmacist reads the doctor’s note and then pulls a fresh-baked pizza out of a big oven, boxes it, hands it across the window, and says, “Give him as many pieces as he wants, day or night.”
Kids stare longingly through the glass-fronted case of a candy store, in such a crowd that it’s hard to even see what has drawn their attention. It turns out to be the newest flavor of the low-fat, organic pizza.
A journalist is interviewing swimmers on a remote tropical island where the average age is higher than anywhere else in the world. In response to the question, “What’s the secret to your amazing health and longevity?” a tanned and fit grandmother says, “We don’t do anything special. We just order out for pizza every night.”
She then dives off a cliff into a pool of tropical water. The pizza, of course, is from a little old mud hut with the logo of your brand over its door and a crowd of village children outside a window, hands out, happily receiving slices of the magical pizza.
Develop, edit, and simplify your creative idea until it’s clear and fits the medium you want to communicate it in.
Note that your choice of medium is partially determined by your message — and by the creative idea you select to get it across. To tell a story, you may choose television advertising if your budget is large. A streaming video version for your website or a radio ad version of the story will cut your costs compared to TV advertising.
If you prefer the really low-cost option, you can have a cartoonist do a series of drawings in comic-strip format and place them on your website or turn them into a print ad or flier. Even better, start with that series of drawings, and hire a whiz kid to animate them into an entertaining short film posted to YouTube and also displayed on your latest blog and on your website.
What if you can’t come up with a really clever, creative idea that gets the point across clearly and simply? Then don’t force it. Don’t focus so much on creativity that you fail to make your point clearly. If you have to make a choice between creativity and clarity, opt for clarity.
Simply communicate the basic message in clear language. Repeat a clear message often enough, and people will remember it even if you haven’t entertained or wowed them with your creativity.
For example, a web-based distributor of office supplies wanted to tell office managers that its warehouses were located all across the country and that it delivered on a next-day basis even though it didn’t have traditional retail stores to make its presence visible.
The distributor eventually settled on a simple but clear message — “We’re always here when you need us” — and used it in all of its communications, from catalogs and packaging to the web.