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The Message Is Still the Master

I’m as guilty as any communicator out there. Everyone is all lathered up about Social Media, WOM (Word of Mouth) and other buzz-word/new techie tools of the day. All the focus is on MEDIA.

Somewhere along the line, marketers have forgotten that the MOST IMPORTANT element in a campaign is the MESSAGE.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Facebooking, billboarding, TV-ing or advertising on the side of a bus. The MESSAGE is the master ingredient that will determine the success or failure of your campaign.

There are many technical aspects to making a message work. Keeping it short is usually important, right?

Wrong. Sure Nike succeeded with “Just Do It.” But just as successful is the Vicks Nyquil message “The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy, head, fever so you can rest medicine.”

Most marketers agree there are four ways to express your message: Functional, Incentive, Emotional and Cultural.

Functional messages usually just explain what the firm does and what it offers, or they may suggest a call to action. Incentive is usually a price discount or other reason to respond or respond soon.

Emotional messages can connect with you because they stand out, you remember them and they may tug at your heartstrings. Nothing, however, can trump the Cultural message, because people really connect to it.

Remember the crying Indian in the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign? Very emotional,
right? The Functional way was to simply tell people, “Please do not litter.” The Incentive was a $250 fine for littering.

But look at Texas. They found the biggest litterbugs were young males. Do you think a crying Indian stopped them from tossing beer cans out the window? Hardly.

So Texas started its own anti-littering campaign: “DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS.” Suddenly, young males were protecting their homeland. And litter rates dropped 72%. The message had a cultural connection.

When you can get people to rally for your product or cause, you’ve made a cultural connection. It isn’t easy — but it works better in any media. Post that on your Facebook page.

Stay tuned and stay smart.

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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