marketing | be clear. get results. (really, it is that easy!)

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i recently asked a question on my business page and was thrilled with the number of responses i got. that is, until i actually read all of the responses and realized that my question did not actually get answered at all. i realized that my original question was not clear enough. i was not specific enough and i did not provide enough information.

of course, as they say, hind-sight is 20/20… but it did get me thinking: how many times have i made this mistake? how many times have i seen others make this mistake? sometimes we get so caught up in accomplishing our tasks that we forget to step back and look at what we are doing from an outside perspective. and then we wonder why what we are doing doesn’t seem to get results!

here are 4 things to think about before you click share on that question, publish on that post, send on that newsletter, or save on that sales page: 

#1. you are the expert

here is the thing about your product or service: you are the expert. so whatever you are working on is completely second nature to you. be aware of the fact that because we are the experts, because we know our ‘thing’ inside and out, we tend to skip over important details or use expert lingo because we think that stuff is totally obvious. it’s not.

"all RAW files are digitally remastered with a Gaussian blur set to 40% opacity and saved at 3367 pixels wide x 2583 pixels tall at a resolution of 300 dpi."

OR

"all jpegs included."

pick a person in your life that is intelligent but completely lost when it comes to your expertise (your hubby, your child, a friend or parent), and the next time you are working on a message (a product description, a sales pitch, a question, an email etc.) ask yourself: would that person understand what i am talking about?

"all images are professionally edited and saved as high quality jpeg files, ready for you to print yourself."

#2. identify the target-problem-solution

even if you are providing just the right amount of detail in your message (not skipping over the details, but not being overwhelming with jargon either) you can still make the mistake of not being very clear.

"volunteers needed as models. free session and prints included. send an email to sign up."

it would be disappointing and time consuming to deal with the responses if i was actually looking for a particular type of model, if people were expecting more than what i was offering for free, or if people that couldn’t volunteer on the day i needed them.

the key is to frame your message to include: a target – a problem – a solution. if you do, your message will be very clear; people will know right away if it is applicable to them, and wouldn’t waste your time with inquiries if it wasn’t.

"are you the mother of a busy, energetic toddler? do you find it difficult to get them to sit still for a photograph? i am looking for a volunteer ‘model’ to try out some new techniques on wednesday morning. you will receive a free 15 minute photography session one free 5x7 print."

#3. check your brand message

another reason why your message might be ineffective is that it does not match the rest of your brand. a brand message that is not consistent can result in a lack of response from customers or a number of time consuming inquiries that you have to deal with one by one because your message is not clear.

"book in now for a customized, 2 hour studio session – packages start at $1250 and include both professionally enhanced digital images and mounted fine art prints."

this is not an unreasonable product description for a photography business – the brand message here is luxury and investment. but if this was found on a facebook page for a business that does not have a professional website, has a homemade amateur looking logo and a low quality facebook album portfolio, then you would probably not be inclined to click through to book a session. if your message is inconsistent no one is going to trust your business.

if you want to find out more about why branding is important and how to make your entire brand message consistent (yes, including your pricing, packages, product descriptions and the rest of your written copy) please sign up for the advanced notice list on the build a brand workbook.

#4. do you have a call to action?

have you ever wrote the most amazing sales pitch ever or crafted the best question to increase participation on your page or figured out the most clear and fabulous way to describe your product only to get little or no response?

"special, one-day only christmas mini-sessions! perfect for the busy family who has not had a recent family photo. a quick, easy and affordable option for getting a professional image for use in cards and gifts this christmas. $75 for 15 minute session, includes one professionally edited 5x7 print of your favorite image in either b/w or colour, as well as the high quality digital file emailed to you for convenience."

what is the problem with that message? it is clear and specific, it matches my brand message, and it includes the target-problem-solution! why am I not getting any bookings? the reason is that there is no call to action!

a call to action is necessary if you hope to achieve any goal with your message – for example: participate on your facebook page, ring you to make a booking, send you an email, submit a photo, comment on your blog posts, write a product review, buy now, or add to cart.

do not just assume people will take that obvious next step. state clearly exactly what you would like them to do. you can make it easy with links, buttons, contact tabs etc. but no matter what, you need to be clear what action you want your reader to take and then ask them to take it!

do you have an example where a lack of clarity caused confusion, wasted time or resulted in a low response? i would love for you to share your examples to add to the ones i have here. =)