Marketing is really an umbrella term, and there are 3 important areas of marketing under that larger umbrella: delivery, presentation, and messaging.
If there's a problem with the performance of the marketing, if business isn't going as well as you want it to, there's a marketing problem in one of these 3 areas.
A large part of the marketing world focuses on delivery, how well the marketing materials are actually reaching potential customers.
What do we need to do to show up on the 1st page of Google results?
How do we keep our promotional emails out of spam filters?
How has the Facebook algorithm changed?
What time of day is best for posting to Instagram?
Which ads are cheapest and most effective to run?
And, another part of the marketing world focuses on presentation.
Which images should we use in this advertisement?
Is the website font hard to read?
Do our social media posts stand out visually?
Is the packaging appealing?
How can we improve our design?
Messaging includes more difficult questions.
Is this advertisement interesting enough to click on?
Is the sales message effective?
Is the value of this product clear to customers?
Is anything confusing or vague?
Is our social media activity compelling or is it getting boring?
Is our website keeping people interested?
This area of marketing is often ignored or avoided.
Each area of marketing is important, and it's vital to be educated in each of these categories. But, more often than not a conversation that should be about messaging turns into a conversation about either delivery or presentation.
The reason the conversation shifts is because talking about quick tech solutions or a simple change in design is MUCH easier than talking about messaging.
Teams largely avoid dealing with messaging issues.
Because, it's far simpler to find problems in delivery or presentation than to try to unpack problems with messaging.
But, here's the hard truth... If you get your message out in front of a large enough group of potential customers and you don't see great results, it's probably not a delivery or presentation issue. And, continuing to market that message and push it out to more people won't help the business.
Investing in delivery or presentation when there are messaging issues is a good way to burn through resources.
If the marketing isn't performing as well as you'd like, look at the messaging.
Fix issues in messaging first.
As a leader, be willing to talk about messaging. Be willing to have those conversations, even if they are clunky and difficult.
And, messaging conversations are typically clunky and difficult.
Delivery and design matter, but only when the messaging is performing well.
If the messaging is off, the rest is meaningless.
This is the most common mistake I see businesses making - instead of slowing down and fixing their messaging issues, they make some design changes and then charge forward on delivery to get their message out to more and more people.
When there is an issue with the marketing, get in the habit of looking at messaging first.
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Stacy Rust is a Minneapolis-based marketing and sales strategist. From locally-owned shops to multi-million dollar brands, she helps organizations around the globe craft the details of their marketing strategy.
With an innovative, in-depth approach to marketing and sales and over a decade of education, research, and on-the-ground experience, Stacy's strategy work allows companies to ramp up sales quickly and authentically.
After working in Creative Services at the BBC Worldwide in London, and then as an Account Executive at a private advertising agency in the US, she started her own company to provide fresh, unique strategy to business leaders around the world.
Stacy works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives on selling, marketing, and building a strong, long term community of customers.