Avoid “Chest-Thump” Marketing

Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) male beating chest in threat display, endangered, central Africa

Have you ever been to a zoo and visited the primate area?  One of the activities that the males engage in is the ritual of chest thumping.  In addition to trying to impress the females, they do this as a territorial thing.  It basically means “Hey look at me – I am big and strong.  I am in charge here”.

I recently received an unsolicited e-mail that engages in what I call “chest-thump marketing”.  A portion of the e-mail is below – with areas blurred to avoid exposing the “marketing primate” who sent it.

Chest Thump Image

While this person attempted to personalize the message the format of the e-mail is terrible and worse yet is the message.  It is all about I, I , and I.  What about the person reading the message, are they part of this communication or is this a diatribe?

Here is a marketing secret to keep in mind – FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER!  (just kidding about the secret part).  Of course you must focus on the customer;  their challenges, what keeps them up at night, and of course their opportunities.  Frankly, they don’t really care much about you specifically – unless you have something for them.

I had a technical writing class in college – perhaps the absolute best class I ever had.  The professor took our letters/messaging, and then underlined the occurrences of “you” in the document, and circled the “I’s”.  It is astonishing how often we use the word I in communications with customers.  This has stuck with me ever since.  It is also a very common practice to do it in literature, on web sites, etc.  Except the term “We” is used instead of “I”.

Consider starting communications/literature with something like this as an opening message:

“Have you experienced budget challenges at your firm as a result of the economic downturn?  Are you seeking an effective means of achieving cost reductions without compromising service or quality to your customers?”  

Notice how in these two sentences, the attention is focused on the customer completely.  In fact these sentences have worked in you/your 4 times without a single I/We.  Also, by stating a situation that is likely affecting them (downturn) we have started getting them to do some virtual head-nodding.  To take it up another notch, we could do some homework on the target of the communication and mention something that specifically relates to them.  This will also help with engagement.  It shows the customer we care enough about them to do some up-front research instead of blindly sending mass vanilla messages.

Whether it is the opening sentences in a letter or the home page on your Web site, be aware of the concept of chest-thumping.  Engaging the customer has absolutely nothing to do with your firm or your capabilities – but they have extreme interest in how your firm or capabilities can benefit them.  Make the customer the core of your communications and you will be on your way to better messaging.

Don’t be a primate!  Focus on the customer – especially in communications.