- Thu, April 05 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
One of my first-ever posts on this blog was about first lines. I urged people to go for the “arresting opening.”
This week, I’ve gotten a series of openings from marketers who should be arrested.
First, an email from the company that provides me a great service but feels they need to rename themselves and then tell me what it means:
We are pleased to announce we have changed our name from [the name I know and like] to [a sci-fi sounding name I couldn’t remember, prompting long minutes to find this deleted email]. Our new name reinforces the distinct, but related strength of our worldwide organization. It projects our position as a global leader and our commitment to serving our clients seamlessly.
Then today I get this email marketing piece for a seminar, with the subject line, “marketing certification:”
I have to warn you, the [training we are trying to sell you] is not some academic exercise in marketing theory. It is an intensive, “hands-on” boot camp where you learn WHAT your marketing group should be doing and HOW you should be doing it. In just two days, you’ll get the actionable tools and techniques you need to start making dramatic improvements in your B2B marketing…
I thought I had an irate person writing me before I figured out it was a sales pitch. The “I have to warn you” next to my name was a surprise, but not a good one. I feel their training might involve electric shocks if I were to fall short as a trainee…
And then this post at the Accidental Marketer blog, which has a great name. The Accidental Marketer received something from an accidental marketer, as far as I can tell. I quote from the amusing post:
I opened a piece of direct mail yesterday just because I respected the institution (which shall be nameless) that sent it. Unfortunately, the genius copywriter lost me as soon as he said hello with this deathless prose:
“This is XYZ today. This is the XYZ of tomorrow. This is the XYZ I want you to know.”
I instantly heard the pounding drums from “Thus Sprake Zarathustra” (aka theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey) but steeled myself for another line, until I got to:
“The XYZ of the twenty-first century is active, responsive, builds community, transforms lives, impacts positive growth, strengthens families, and it provides real economic returns by empowering people across the City and State.”
I’m sure it does. I’m also sure 50 other nonprofits in the city could stake the same claim. I wouldn’t even mind reading a statement like that in my obituary. But what have I learned from all this hype? Nothing.
What does XYZ want from me? No clue.
If you have to tell someone what your brand is, that’s not branding. Branding is what’s in the consumer’s/donor’s/audience’s mind, not yours.
If the first line of your email is all about you, scrap it.
If you have to tell someone how great you are, instead of showing it—or bully your way into a marketing pitch—you have a problem.
The good news is it’s so easy to do better. If you do a halfway decent job having a respectful opening that takes into account your audience, you will stand out.