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Better Marketing=Stop Irritating Me
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By Curt Finch

Once upon a time there were three TV stations, and all you had to do to sell product was put it in front of that captive audience with some music and silliness and you'd be rich.

Now there are 1000 channels (with mute buttons and TiVo), plus a million more on the Internet (anyone seen youtube.com?). Consumers' attention spans are so short that marketeers are at a loss as to how to reach you except by screaming louder or lewder.

If you're anything like me, you naturally ignore every commercial you see, from the ad on the Starbucks cup to the ad on the gas pump handle.You lean heavy on the mute button and change the radio channel when the truck ads come on. I'm a marketer's worst nightmare.

And I'll bet you're just like me.

The most amazing thing about all this to me is that when messages do get through to me how ineffective they are. This is because they do not answer the basic four questions that everyone has when confronted with a sales message:

1. What are you selling?
2. How much is it?
3. What's in it for me? Why should I care?
4. Should I really believe this, coming from you?

If you finally master the magic of getting your message through to a prospect, either by Google ads, direct mail, cold calling, networking, TV or whatever, does your message include a basic answer to those questions? If not, please don't advertise to me.

I live in Austin, Texas. For some reason everyone here seems to own an enormous pickup truck—even though they're all city dwellers who never haul anything anywhere. Their trucks are always really clean because they never go off road. I guess we all just enjoy shredding hundred dollar bills at the gas pump. Or maybe other Austinites have been more influenced than I have by the really horrible truck ads on TV. Which go like this:

Volume increases 100%.

"Texans know trucks and people who know trucks come to BillyBob's Trucks. We're selling 1000 trucks this weekend, zero down 0 percent financing. It's never been done before!!! ..."

It goes on and on. It's very loud. For a Texan he talks extremely fast. There are many videos of trucks jumping over things with clouds of dust everywhere and horses running around.

People do buy alot of trucks here, but I just can't believe that these commercials explain why. These ads mostly fall down on the "Should I believe this coming from you?" test.

They also fail the "What are you selling?" test in a subtle way. Obviously they're selling trucks, so they technically answered the question. But they haven't shown how they do it differently than anyone else. They have no specialty. I can get what they're selling just about anywhere, so why would I go to them or even remember who they are?

The first step to improving your marketing is being able to answer all four of the prospects questions in three seconds or less, for example:

"Business services companies learn how much profit they make on each customer via our patented time and expense tracking software for about $10 per employee per month. Thousands s of companies testify to this at journyx.com."

Ok, that was more than three seconds, but I'm working on it. My favorite of all time is:

"When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."

That answers number one and number three. For number two, it is implied that you shouldn't care. And the FedEx brand delivers implicitly on number four.

It's almost poetic.

We could all learn how to specialize and market by studying FedEx.

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Bruce A. McGraw is the CEO of Cognitive Technologies.
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