Category Archives: Communication

So . . . What’s Next? How To Avoid Dead Ends

Don’t Take Your Customer On A Journey To NowhereMarketing Dead Ends

Each element of your marketing/messaging should have a designated purpose. No exceptions.  Each should be moving the target (customer or influencer) through some element of your selling cycle. This sounds very obvious and nobody would think that their own marketing plans have “dead ends” embedded in them. Au contraire – these dead ends are fairly prevalent,  and it is not just “those other guys”.

Remember, marketing is all centered around driving behavior change. After someone has experienced your marketing activities, you expect them to do something differently. Buy something, call your toll free number, go to your web site, etc. You are expecting them to DO SOMETHING.  So . . . you have to make it easy for them to know what to do next.  Simple right?  The harsh reality is it is “so simple” that it is often overlooked.

Each marketing activity, large or small plays a role in advancing the target toward your ultimate goal. In other words – each component of your marketing mix has a role in guiding your target along the conversion path (changing their behavior in some way). Each activity the target is exposed to is one step on this journey. Every activity should prepare them for their next step in the process. Therefore it is critical you make sure it is clear what that next step is!  See my post on Customer Journey Mapping 

I have seen many instances in which firms dedicate web pages to “FYI content” with no clear indication as to what they should do next. Unfortunately this leads to a dead end – with the user left with a virtual instance of throwing their hands up in the air. In this case – the “what’s next” is likely to be leaving the site.  Although they may actually nod their head in agreement before clicking out of your site.

Examples of Dead Ends (Digital and Non-Digital)

Some additional real-life examples of not considering “what’s next” include:

  • Pages on the site with product information with no clear path to purchase
  • Printed literature pieces that describe products or services with no listed mechanism for the target to obtain additional information
  • Home pages dedicated to about us information with no easy path to the user to “learn more”
  • Just saw this one:  A printed listing of “Upcoming Events” with dates listed but no times or location listed.  There was a phone number.  It is a stretch to think people will make a phone call to get information that should have been clearly presented to them.

To avoid placing your valuable targets in limbo, always ask the question “When the target is done consuming/experiencing this activity, what’s next for them? If you have provided them with a clear path that they can easily navigate, fantastic. If you cannot answer that basic question, you have created a dead end in your customer journey.

Providing your targets with a clear next step is no guarantee they will take that step. However, not having it clearly defined guarantees a dead end for the target and poor results for your marketing efforts.

Bad Marketing 101: Mixed Messaging

Consistency – The Key to Proper Messaging

Sometimes advertisers seem more concerned with being clever than with being effective.  Unfortunately, sometimes those who develop ads and messaging are more focused on the flash rather than the substance.  Don’t get caught up in this with your marketing campaigns.  ATT U-Verse Ad - Bad messaging

Buyer behavior is affected by both overt and covert cues.  Basically, the mind is tuned in to all stimuli, and uses these various inputs to form an overall impression.  When these stimuli do not align, the mind is faced with cognitive dissonance.  A term used by psychologists.  It is a fancy way of saying confusion.

A current TV commercial is a prime example of confusing messaging.  It is for U-Verse high speed internet service.  The message they are trying to convey is “reliability”.  The setting is a family at home talking about their reliable internet service.  The problem with the messaging is all hell is breaking loose around the house.  Ceiling fans falling, faucets leaking, walls crumbling down.  All while the family members are giving their testimonials about reliability.  It is not a quantum leap for the mind to include U-Verse with the things breaking around the house.

Imagine if an investment firm (focused on trust, confidence) had as spokesperson a used car salesman, plaid coat and all.  Even if the messaging was well-scripted and funny, the observer probably would not want to trust their investments to the firm.  People naturally seek a more conservative, straight-laced figure that enhances their trust in the firm.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for humor in advertising.  It just should align with the overall theme of the messaging.  Beer ads are a good example.  Funny things happening are associated with having a beer and having a good time.  It works well for beer ads – not as a means of building consumer confidence.

Newsflash for ATT/U-verse:  Your main competition (Comcast/Xfinity) is directly challenging your reliability in ads.  Why would you even think about using household mishaps as a source of humor?  It is ridiculous.

When you are developing or approving messaging – as yourself one basic question:  Is the main theme of this messaging in alignment with my brand DNA?

If your messaging is not promoting your brand, it is demoting it.  And of course wasting time and money in the process.