The marketing communication mistake most businesses make is…

Talking mostly about themselves, not about their customer and WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) with respect to the customer

A school friend of mine is part of an NGO whose work focuses extensively on skill development and income generation of children and women for a region in India. As with most NGO’s, they have “cash crunch” and hence need to raise funds periodically to survive and sustain their social work. For 2016, the NGO wanted to secure the funds by curating an art exhibition , and using a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the art-work towards the NGO. Since she did not have any budgets / contacts for marketing / advertising / promotions, I offered to help her with some of these. All it took was my time and creativity, and all for a good cause – so why not?

The first thing I told her to do was to create a small visual invite for the event. When she sent me the first version, she had written about the trust which supports the NGO and put up a collage of the art work that would be on display during the exhibition.

“So, who do you think should attend this event?” I quizzed her..

Anyone who has an interest in art, and can afford to buy” she said

“OK, So can you describe your buyer in a bit more detail” I asked

“It would be the nouveau rich and wealthy. Folks from the show business, bankers, investors, business leaders from corpoartes, successful startups, sportspeople, may be even politicians” she said

So, when any of them read your visual invite, do you think they’ll attend?” I probed further

I don’t know. But I wish they do as the NGO needs the funds” she responded

I wish they do too.. But honestly, in the current avatar I doubt it. The invite speaks about the NGO and the trust that supports it. Do you think that would appeal to any art lover to compel him / her attend the event?” I pointed..

Hmm.. No, no really..So what do you suggest?” she asked

Well, for starters – Do mention what is unique about the art exhibition you are curating. Who is the curator? Who is the art critique? Who are the artists? What is so special about their paintings? And of course, mention the date, time, venue and any special guests / celebrities who will attend” I responded..

She agreed and did make the changes and sent me a note which said “I am very emotional about my work. Mostly, I am thinking just from the NGO’s point of view. Thank you for the feedback which compelled me to re-articulate the invite explaining What is in it for any art-lover to attend?

This not a one off example. In my experience, too many businesses (small, medium or large size) make this mistake – not once, or twice but a zillion times. After a point, the leaders / marketers become too emotional or inward focused that they completely miss out on the “customer / buyer perspective“. In the process, the business lose out – in terms of mind-share, market-share and profit-share.

As a marketer, I strongly believe that marketing communication is the one of  the most important aspects in business branding, sales and customer loyalty. If as a company / brand, your customer is unable to relate to your story in terms of any communication that you publish – then you’ve lost him / her.  In today’s competitive marketplace, that is a steep price to pay – both in the short-term and long-term.

So as I conclude, I leave you with 5 points you should bear in mind for all marketing communications:

1) Know your customer – His / her persona, what are their problems in context of what you are offering and most importantly, what channel is most effective to reach this customer base – For e.g.:TV, newspaper, radio, print ads, etc.

2) Create your marketing communication as a story which will connect with your potential customer base. Something which makes him / her think and feel “Wow! This is me that they are talking about…

3) In terms of communication content and style – Keep it short and simple. Jargons seldom work. Use visuals / images to give the message. Also be clear in terms of what you expect the communication to do for your business – For e.g.: Brand Awareness or Lead Generation or establish Thought Leadership, etc.

4) Answer “WIIFM” – What’s in it for me as a customer – Make sure this is very clear to anyone reading it

5) Ensure that your communication reaches the right (target) audience with the most cost effective channel (E-mail, SMS, etc.)

What are the best practices you follow in crafting marketing communications? Leave a comment to let me know…

First published on LinkedIn


Columnist / Byline In : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost |  Wipro NewsCred Marketo | Finextra | Inc42 |  Business2Community |ProBlogger  | Famous Bloggers | TheNextWomen|Nasscom |  SheTheTVPeople | PaulWriter |  WomensWeb |  Sheroes PeopleMatters | YoWoTo |  | ParentousThe Change Blog | Women Inspiring Wednesdays
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in IndiaDirectory of Top Indian Blogs and Most Widely read Indian Bloggers, Directory of Best Indian BlogsAlltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) ,50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter (2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
2015 101 Inspiring Women aka Rockstars
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”


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