brand promise

Authenticity Reigns Supreme

Ran across this meme the other day, and it really hit home. For so many organizations, there's a big difference between what they are right now ... and what they hope to become.

In organizational messaging, this can make for a dicey interplay. 

On the one hand, you want to put your "best self" forward. On the other hand, as Ogilvy points out, if that marketing is an overstatement, it sets unrealistic expectations. And this can have dire consequences. 

The key is in being genuine ... while not giving up on the aspirations. Don't paint an inaccurate picture. Instead, provide solid information that supports your case, but clearly and thoroughly share the dream, too. Let people be part of that vision on the ground floor.

Take time to experience the path your constituent will take and compare that to the narrative you're sharing. If it's in the digital space, go through the entire process from start to finish ... make the donation ... navigate the website. If it's in person at an event, take time to reflect on how it matches up.

Ask yourself, did you deliver on the promise you communicated?

Adjust your sails the next time you do it, and your constituents will thank you for it. 


Right Tools for the Job—The Right Words for the Copy

We have a blurb on our website that says "words have a job to do." There it is, on the right. When you're a copywriter that's the long and short of it . No trademark flourishes. No "do you see what I did there and wasn't it clever?" But make no mistake. It's not a matter of being utilitarian and tied to convention either.

This post is a build on what Bob wrote last month.

Good copywriting has a lot more to do with thoughtful, elegant editing than it does being cute or brandishing your flaming thesaurus at the world. Although I know a lot of cute copywriters … c'mon. I love you guys.

Also, I love the way the phrase "flaming thesaurus" sounds, but that's not exactly relevant here. (See what I did there?)

We've been talking about this around the office a lot lately. Here are some M&C tips for making sure the words in your copy get the job done.

  • Because you can doesn't mean you should. We had a detail for a story in a fundraising newsletter recently that was heartbreaking, weird and certainly memorable. But it was also uncomfortable, had the potential to trigger terrible memories for our intended audience and was right on the border of salacious. It got left out because it didn't serve the ultimate goal of the newsletter.

  • What is my job? If your copy could talk (and it wasn't a slacker) it would ask you this question every time you sat down. And because you're a good boss, you should be able to answer this question before you put your talented little fingers on the keyboard. Your answer to this question will quickly decide what goes and what stays as you write.

  • Sit down, data. The truth is, experience and intuition matter a lot with copywriting and creative. It's the dirty little secret that sends your data people shrieking into the night. You'll have to have many a subjective conversation with yourself as you're writing: does this matter? does this add credibility? does this make a donor feel closer to my organization and build trust (even if it's not 100% flattering, but it's true and human)? Get comfy with this exchange and have it often.

When the reality doesn't match ...

I bought a new Jeep Liberty recently. In the weeks that followed, it was purchase reinforcement at its best—a handwritten thank you note from my salesman, a survey from Chrysler, then (3) reminders of my free oil change, one in an e-mail. Marketing automation executed perfectly. Clearly a strategy to kick off a long, fruitful relationship.

So I decided to take them up on their new offer, despite the fact the dealership is a good 30 minutes away from my house. I called to make an appointment. "No need - just walk right in," insisted the friendly service manager. Then comes Saturday.

I arrive at 10:00 a.m., two whiny children and one impatient husband in tow. I'm three deep in a line of hostile people when I hear a frustrated employee say ... "I can't get even get to oil changes for 2 hours!" I threaded my car out of line and drove off without ever making it to the service desk.

As a consumer, I felt annoyed. As a marketer, I felt concerned.

I was reminded that even when everything is done "right" from a marketing standpoint, it can still go very wrong. The most carefully crafted copy or powerful imagery will never replace an actual experience.

So what's the answer then?

First, marketing shouldn't live on a banished island far from products, programs or operations. Tough questions like "do we have enough people answering the phone for this campaign?"--should be answered at the beginning, not addressed by frantic calls on the eleventh hour. And when the brand promise seems to be drifting from the brand reality, it may be time to make some courageous changes across the board.