It’s hard to go an hour these days without being bombarded with advertisement for products and services. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve conditioned yourself to ignore and avoid a majority of the promotions and language. Truth be known, much of it seems the same anyway. They use similar language, and similar visuals. If you steward a brand (product, service, ministry, church, non-profit etc.) or have been tasked with creating promotional materials and campaigns, the question remains:

“How am I going to get the attention of my audience?”  

Of the few messages and promotions that truly stand out to us, there are some key characteristics that they have in common. As long as we can see these characteristics for what they are, we can unlock greater results and potential in the efforts we make for our own brand’s sake.

And, with that, there is hope and promise!

Let’s look at 3 of these characteristics and find the tips that they give us in accomplishing our own work.

1) Have an Intentional and Specific Target Audience

Notice that I said above "Of the few messages and promotions that truly stand out to US”. I didn’t say “EVERYONE”.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of wanting ALL people to love what you are doing.

As a general rule, when you hope to appeal to a huge audience, you have to start thinking about what this group doesn’t like, and what that group doesn’t like. So you eventually get your appealing characteristics to a place that is very general.

It’s kind of like my mom calling me and saying “How would you like for me to make the dressing at Christmas dinner?” and I reply “with no onions and celery.” Then she calls my brother and he answers “with no chestnuts or gravy”. She wants to be safe and hope to appeal to both of us, so she makes the dressing without onions, celery, chestnuts or gravy. This leaves us with dressing that has very little texture or flavor. Later I find myself at a friend’s house and he’s made the dressing more to my specific liking. So what happens? Well, I would never tell my mother, but I certainly will tell other people that the best dressing is made by my friend’s mom.

TIP: When you don’t target a specific audience, it is difficult to appeal in an exciting way to anyone. AND you run the risk of helping other, more focused brands stand out as the right choice.

Here are some examples of brands with very specific audiences:

  • Axe Body Spray – a product that is intended for use by males (of any age) yet is specifically promoted to young single males
  • Patagonia – a set of products that could be used by anyone, but is specifically marketed to an “outdoor-sy” and environmentally conscience audience
  • Beats By Dr. Dre – anyone can use these headphones, but they are promoted to appeal to young tech-saavy, urban enthusiasts

2) Successful Promotion Plays the Consumer “Long-Game”

Define what long-term result of your promotion is desired. Do you want to impact X amount of lives? Do you want to fundraise $XXXX.XX? Do you want t raise profits by 5%?

After you’ve defined the result, strategically map out a path (or work with an expert who can) of checkpoints that will make up your “user experience” and realize that each checkpoint is a distinct and valuable portion of your brand.

I like to call the first checkpoint, the "dip your toe in the pool” moment. This is the place, product or service that lets your target audience understand more about your brand and get a sample of what the overall user experience will be like.

TIP: Give your consumer that “dip your toe in the pool” moment.

Some examples of a "dip your toe in the pool” moment are:

  • Industry whitepapers
  • Product samples
  • Intoductory pricing for a limited experience

The main benefit of the "dip your toe in the pool” moment is that you will isolate and better define your target audience quickly.

3) Understanding Your Brand SHOULD be Easy

In other words, just get to the point. It can sometimes be a trap to overlook the fact that you understand your brand well, but your target audience may not. Just because this comes naturally to you, doesn’t mean that it will for others. Having an “Intentional and Specific Target Audience” will certainly help if you’ve targeted a group that already has acceptance or knowledge of your type of service or product. Regardless of your audience, it is great to always have a concise, and simple message.

If your consumer or target has to work to understand your brand, trust me… they have other priorities. People have places to go, and people to see! If they can grasp the essence of what you are offering and it can be organized in a simple and visually creative way, you are more likely to make an impact.

Don’t fall prey to fear and feel like you have to explain everything in the first 5 seconds. Remember “dip your toe in the pool”. Once you know what your user experience is supposed to be like you will easily identify the focus of the first, simple touchpoint for your brand.

TIP: Be simple, then BE MORE SIMPLE.

Finding the core of your message or offer can also benefit your ability to consistently come across as confident and knowledgeable. It will position you and your organization as a masters of your product, service, ministry, church, non-profit etc.

It’s not just visual.

Applying these tips across all parts of your brand (your visuals, your messaging, your choice of collateral, etc.) is an easy way to gain the attention of your audience and begin to build trust and "expert" status. While the visual component is a very important one, remember that it is only part of an effective brand.

One of the more rewarding aspects of our work is that we get to help brands like yours everyday, become more effective and focused. And it is always great to see our clients getting the attention of their audience in this time-starved world.

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