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The Two Letters That Ensure Marketing and PR Failure

The other day I was at a trade show and I was talking to one of our media contacts about the state of the industry. Her publication, as well as a few others in the space, have been working on iPad apps that allow you to download issues of the publication. These apps are great for the publishers of course.

Alphabet - Marketing and PR Mistakes

Encouraging people to read your magazine anywhere is never a bad thing. For people already reading the magazine it might be slightly more convenient. I suggested, though, that if the publishers really wanted to impress their readers, the app would appeal more to the readers’ interests and less to the publisher’s own desires.

In this case, the audience is nurses, so an app that makes research easier would probably be more memorable than an app that helps the nurse read a magazine he or she might not read regularly.

In short, the publisher made the mistake that is made so often in marketing and PR. They focused on the two letters that can spell death to any marketing or PR effort. Do you know what those two letters are?

U. S. As in “us.”

The problem with us

Us - Writing to your audience

When you embark on a marketing or PR campaign, your primary objective, of course, is to increase YOUR brand awareness, sell YOUR products, or strengthen YOUR reputation. As such, it is easy to fall into the trap of approaching your PR and marketing from an “us” prism.

It is almost natural to think that your communications should be oriented to what is interesting to your company. Why would you not talk about your take on the industry or the complexities that your company faces on a daily basis? This approach might even work a little bit for a short period of time. Over the long run, however, companies that engage in marketing and PR in this manner start to sound like the friend who is always about “me me me.”

Eventually, your target audience will tune you out. They have their own problems to deal with and do not have the time to listen to yours. They want to hear how you can help them out.

Help - Writing to your audience

The “Us” problem applies no matter what you do. Whether you use social media platforms to get your message out or whether you use print advertisements, the same logic holds true. Understand that this does not mean you should refrain from pitching. If you do that, no one will understand what their next action should be.

Compel that purchasing action by talking to your existing and potential customers rather than talking to your own employees. Engage people by explaining how you can help them with their problems, and show a deep understanding of the kinds of problems they face. Your customers probably don’t care that you just got ISO certified. What they care about is that your ISO certification will ensure a high quality of product that they can purchase. See the difference?

If you want a wealth of examples regarding how to avoid the curse of that 2-letter word, I suggest you check out YouTility by Jay Baer. While the specific examples may not be possible for your type of organization, Jay illustrates how focusing on “you” can pay great dividends, particularly in the world of apps. It can’t all be “you,” but erring on the side of “you” will always be better than erring too much on the side of the dreaded “us.”

Margie Clayman is the Director of Marketing, B2B Client Services at Clayman & Associates, LLC. For more marketing advice from Margie, click here.

Image: Allen Skyy, OpenClips (Creative Commons)

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