Manipulative marketing strategies can leave your savvy customers agitated and confused. Here's how to create a message with authenticity.
In this day of digital communication we all experience a regular deluge of unsolicited email; many messages--even from trusted senders--bear promises to solve our most significant problems. Dare you click through, you're likely to find a lengthy, densely packed website, designed to make you "feel the pain" before making a purchase that's "certain to change your life."
But does this common marketing formula designed to identify your problem, agitate you into submission, and make promises, truly resonate with people? Award-winning author, marketing consultant, and copywriting strategist Lisa Manyon doesn't think so.
"Really: When was the last time you were thoroughly agitated and prompted into buying something?" she questions. "People know if you are being manipulative or authentic--offering something of great value with honest solutions."
Manyon questions if many of the standard marketing techniques, especially in the copywriting arena, are antiquated and not as effective as they once were. Her list of copywriting don'ts includes: hyped-up claims, overly "sales-y" spiels, hard-sell tactics, broad-based messages, scare tactics, stretching the truth, false claims of scarcity and over-dramatizing pain and problems. These are tactics she says are failing and that turn off consumers--especially women.
With women making or influencing 85% of all purchasing decisions and accounting for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the United States, it's time for marketers and advertisers to take notice. But 91% of women believe that advertisers do not understand them. And long-winded copy, intended to manipulate the buyer, doesn't evoke the trust that female consumers want to experience. Is this the kind of copy that we consider King?
"I've found that copy is actually queen and strategy is king, and together they are the key to creating strong and effective results," she says. "The best copy in the world won't work if you don't have a strategy in place. But when a so-called marketing success formula doesn't feel right to the business owner, it's very difficult to create an effective message or strategy."
So how can we bridge this gap between a strategy that draws people in, and, well, authenticity?
In the traditional formula we're taught to highlight the issue, agitate that issue to focus on the pain points and then solve the problem. Instead of "Problem, Agitate, Solve," Manyon suggests the challenge-oriented solution that she calls The New Marketing Formula, "Challenge. Solution. Invitation."
"We don't need to be agitated to make a decision," she says. "In fact, when someone acknowledges and understands our challenges, provides a helpful solution and extends a friendly invitation, we're more likely to take action. Nothing truly flows when it comes from a place of pain and fear."
Here's how Manyon suggests you market effectively and with integrity, using her new marketing model for success.
1) Challenge: Know your ideal clients have challenges. Acknowledge them. Understand them. Don't dwell on them or try to "agitate" or exaggerate the situation.
2) Solution: Offer a genuine solution to eliminate or alleviate the challenge. Come from a place of service first. Build relationships with your solution.
3) Invitation: Avoid hard sell tactics at all costs. Instead extend a friendly invitation to take the next step and move toward the solution. This is also considered your "call to action." It's extended in a way that builds relationships and treats people as people, not numbers.
Manyon says the response to her new copywriting formula of "Challenge. Solution. Invitation." seems to be garnering a collective sigh of relief for those who have struggled to create marketing messages. As an added bonus, this formula may transform your relationship with marketing. Try this approach on for size--and let us know how it works! For an in-depth interview with Manyon, tune into our recent discussion on The Million Dollar Mindset podcast.
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka