Written by Rob Hardy

Top 10 Techniques to Improve Your Marketing Communications

In my previous article I outlined five key points to bear in mind when planning your next communications campaign. Now let’s look at a further five aspects to bear in mind when implementing your communications…

  1. The headline/ visual combination.  This is crucial in capturing the attention and interest of your target audience. The headline and imagery should complement (not just repeat) each other in order to get across the essence of your campaign proposition at a glance. Remember: the reader should never have to dip into the small print in order to understand the point of your communication! It should succinctly convey why your product is relevant to the prospect – implying a specific emotional or rational benefit. It should also have an element of relevant drama and intrigue: in order to pique the curiosity of your audience and draw them into the body of the communication.
  2. Headlines that get a response. You need to appeal to the reader’s self-interest if you want them to make the effort of responding to your communication. Your headline should therefore indicate that some useful information or entertaining content will be revealed within the body of your communication – clearly signposting that it is worth their time continuing to engage with the communication. Powerful action words can work well in direct response headlines – for example: ‘unlock’, ‘discover’, ‘double’. Be careful not to overdo the use of imperatives though – otherwise your approach can come across as the dreaded ‘hard-sell’…
  3. The importance of a powerful opening. The opening should build on the attention and interest gained by the headline/ visual combination – with the sole purpose being to get your audience to read on, rather than comprehensively conveying the detail of your proposition. Begin with your most persuasive, intriguing or surprising point first. Don’t waste the reader’s time by just repeating or paraphrasing the headline – you must get straight to the point with specifics, putting your most persuasive or dramatic points first in order to quickly build momentum.
  4. An effective ‘call to action’.  A powerful call to action summarises your campaign proposition and incentive, and gives your audience a compelling reason to respond promptly. Make the initial action required from your prospective customer as quick and easy as possible. You can always ask for more information or upsell later, once they have made an initial commitment. Re-emphasize the temporary nature of your incentive in order to persuade your prospect to take action – for example limited supply or time-bound offers.
  5. Straplines – do you need one? A good strapline (AKA a slogan, tagline, payoff, sign-off or endline) conveys the essence of your brand in a meaningful and memorable way – the focusing thought driving everything you do. A good strapline is extremely difficult to create since it needs to be both meaningful, bold, concise, distinctive and relevant – not an easy job for a brief endline! Too often straplines become bland, pretentious, complicated or meaningless. In fact, you may be better off avoiding a strapline altogether as long as you have effectively communicated your single-minded proposition in the headline/ visual combination. And whatever you do – don’t just use the strapline in an attempt to convey something that you weren’t able to get across in the rest of your communication piece!

By Rob Hardy, marketing communications consultant and author of ‘Successful Marketing Communications’.


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