When it comes to marketing content, heaven (and sales) is in the details.
Let me ask you a quick question.
And really think about it.
Stop for a minute; ignore the bustle of the world.
What do you see when you look at this postcard?
Drink it in.
It's nice, right?
Maybe, if you like snow.
But to truly appreciate the image takes a little imagination.
For instance, imagine standing in the scene yourself, right where the photographer stood, seeing that exact view.
Your hands are stuffed in your pockets. Your breath is showing in puffs.
Based on the color of the sky, the sun has set; darkness will be upon you soon. You know your ears and nose must be red with cold. BRRR!
The nearby streets are quiet, with just a few cars sloshing by. Somewhere behind you, a few birds tweet and chirp, signing off for the night.
You look across the way there, at those buildings, those lit windows, each representing one or more lives. Standing there, might you wonder, as I do, what's going on behind those windows?
Perhaps a cube dweller in his 30s is behind one of them. He's cooking dinner, tired after a day at the office, the radio offering quiet condolences in the background.
Maybe another light hides the pain of a family, torn by the recent death of a loved one in a far-away state. California. The living room, though full, is whisper silent but for the occasional sob and sniffle.
Perhaps a young woman fresh out of college makes her home behind another set of lights. After a heaping helping of black-pepper beef and cabbage stir-fry from the Chinese place around the corner, half of which will serve as lunch tomorrow, she's full, legs tucked beneath her, glass of Merlot in hand, as she settles in for a night of forgetting—a task made easy while watching other people's problems neatly resolve during consecutive 45-minute Netflix sessions.
Are we talking New Yorkers? Or postcards? Or marketing?
By now, you may be wondering, "What does this have to do with my marketing content?"
The postcard alone, as with much marketing content, paints but a pretty picture. That's all it is—something you can scan quickly, perhaps appreciate quickly, and then forget just as quickly.
It takes a personal interest in or connection with what's being presented—along with imagination and a load of details—to reveal what might lie behind, whether behind a postcard picture or a wall of marketing text.
For instance, take a read of this marketing content:
We are great
Our company is a certified global leader in doing [this thing]. Utilizing state-of-the-art technologies at [so many] locations around the world, our company's engineers partner closely with customers to solve complex [that thing] problems. We strive to provide customers with quality products and exceptional service at competitive prices.
Besides the "we are great" headline, that's real marketing content, taken from a real website. The text, in fact, comes from a website promoted by a major marketing agency as an example of a world-class site.
Yet this reader <ahem> can't help but read that marketing content and wonder:
- Are you the ONLY certified global leader? If not... who cares?
- State of the art... can you be more specific? What's SOA today may not have been when you first posted.
- What does "partnering closely" look like?
- What do you mean by "quality products?" Everyone boasts of quality.
- What does "exceptional service" look like? How is it any better than what your competitors offer?
Do you see what your prospects and customers see?
Do you see?
Marketing content without supporting details, just like a postcard picture without a prompt, without supporting details, is nothing special.
A primary goal of your marketing content is to differentiate.
To do so, give readers specific reasons why you're different and better—don't just say that you are.
Tell them what "quality" means to you—don't just say you offer high quality stuff.
Tell readers that your "exceptional service" means that you'll answer the phone at 4 a.m. if that's what it takes—don't just say you offer exceptional service.
The extra details help to pull readers in... you to stand out... and them to remember.
Without details though, there's nothing unique. Nothing to remember.
Just a pretty picture. Just generic words.
"Thanks, but no thanks," says your prospect. "Goodbye."
P.S. The postcard that inspired this post comes from my postcard collection. If you like postcards, or learning neat tidbits about other cultures and countries, check out my sorely neglected postcard blog: www.TheLaptopTraveler.com. I've still been collecting, but haven't had time to scan and post to the blog, what with raising kids and running a business and all. I hope to return to that activity some day.
P.P.S. Several months after I wrote this blog post, I received a sample calendar from a promotional products company. Flipping through it, I spotted the same image featured for the month of November! The text on the calendar didn't say "Central Park," as the postcard does. Instead it said, "Gapstow Bridge, New York," adding yet another detail to the image. Serendipity... pretty amazing!