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10 Reasons Your Marketing Messages Stink

Don't alienate your market by making these mistakes.

You could write the most eloquent copy in the world, but even the best writing doesn't always drive consumer responses. In other words, it takes more than an ability to write coherently to craft compelling, actionable and meaningful marketing copy that delivers a return on investment that small-business owners need.

Just as there are steps you can follow to ensure you write effective copy, there are also reasons why the copy you produce isn't working. There are reasons why your copy stinks, and 10 of those reasons follow:

  1. You're arrogant. If your copy is mostly about you, then it won't connect with consumers. Instead, make sure your copy focuses on the target audience. Your role is simple, help the audience in some way. The audience--their needs and their wants--should drive your copy. Show how you can help them instead of writing about why you think you're wonderful.
  2. You're pushy. Heavy-handed copy that uses hard sales language is past its time, and your audience is likely to see right through hard sales tactics. If it sounds like an infomercial, the trust level plummets. Consider your audience, your product and your goals before you resort to hard sales messages.
  3. You're rambling. Cut to the chase. Consumers are busy: They're bombarded by messages all day, and you don't want your messages to get lost in that racket. Nor do you want your audience to lose interest before you have a chance to get your key messages across to them. Say it succinctly and quickly.
  4. You're boring. Creating boring copy is another way to get lost in the daily clatter of messages consumers see and hear. Make your copy motivating and action-oriented. Don't be passive. Instead, actively engage your audience with timely, appropriate and urgent messages.
  5. You're not believable. Don't make pie-in-the-sky claims. Nowadays consumers can see right through them and are turned off by them. The keys to success are to be transparent, open and honest. Consumers are looking for messages that are based in truth.
  6. You're not saying what people want to hear. Listen to your target audience before you communicate with them. Research your customers and learn what they want to hear from you. Don't just tell them; show them that you understand and you truly can deliver what they want and need. Match your message to your audience.
  7. You're marketing in the wrong place. Your marketing investment is useless if your messages aren't seen by your target audience. Do your research and put your messages where your target audience is most likely to see them.
  8. You're putting the cart before the horse. Don't just dive in and write copy without doing your homework first. Research your competition and research both current and prospective consumers to get a complete understanding of the marketplace. You need to understand the world around you before you can create messaging related to that world.
  9. You're a one trick pony. It's not enough to spread your messages in one medium. Successful businesses must have integrated marketing plans that involve various media--both online and offline--working together seamlessly to create cohesive, persistent and consistent messaging.
  10. You're not making sense. Your copy should be written in the language your target audience is most likely to respond to. Remove any jargon and buzzwords that your target audience won't understand and match your style and tone to that audience.

Review your copy and make sure you aren't making any of the steps listed above. Making even one these mistakes is an easy way to render your copy and your entire marketing investment worthless.

Susan Gunelius is CEO of KeySplash Creative Inc., an Orlando, Fla.- based marketing communications company. She has authored several books, including Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, published by Entrepreneur Media. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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