I want to talk about Forest Gump. The movie. I hated it. To me it seemed like an OK idea gone overboard. I can almost hear the pitch to the studio executives: “Ok, you’ve got this kind of “not so smart guy” – Tom Hanks plays the guy – and he ends up being a witness to history….oh, and it’s the 60’s so we can throw in Vietnam, and some hippies, and some cool music for the soundtrack….oh, and I bet we could make a fortune off of the restaurant spin-offs…” ugh.
I know you must be thinking, “How can Forest Gump help me with marketing?” Well, he can’t. Except for maybe the Bubba Gump Restaurant Franchise opportunities…but I digress. What I take away from that movie is the saying “Stupid is as Stupid does…”
I’ve referred back to that a number of times throughout my career. Not just for some of the more obvious mistakes I’ve made, but to me that saying can be applied a number of ways. Successful is as successful does…not to get all 7 effective habits on you or anything, but to me style matters. And I don’t mean style as in fashion. That certainly wouldn’t apply to me. But having a sense of style, or more importantly – understanding what your personal style is and projecting it through your everyday communications can help you and your business tremendously.
Marketing communication has many different voices. Whether you are targeting home owners or Fortune 500 executives there is a specific style for communicating your value proposition that if properly communicated should resonate with your audience and help “move the needle.” (That’s a term that resonates with executives, particularly CEOs and CFOs so I try and use it as much as possible when addressing this particular group).
Understanding your target audience is the bedrock to any successful marketing campaign. Remember, the right message to the right group at the right time equals successful marketing – but you can apply your personal style of communication and begin to develop a better connection to your target audience, especially if you are communicating to the same group over a period of time.
It is much easier to get your message across to your audience if you are comfortable with the language or style of language that you are using – especially in your written communications. Now for many of us this is the hardest part. Many people hate writing. And I mean writng anything. A letter. An email. A press release, or God forbid – a white paper. The catch for us marketing people is – EVERYTHING needs to be written in some form or other. There is always a new press release, a website to update, products to position, the list goes on and on. I myself used to dread having to write – and that was my primary job! It wasn’t until I understood my personal style of communicating that I felt comfortable writing on a daily basis. And once I got comfortable with writing things out, it was much easier to communicate objectives internally, and to position value externally. (Which is the main goal of effective Marketing Communications.)
To help you understand your own personal style, think about how you approach everyday situations. Are you analytical? Philisophical? Is the glass have full or half empty? Whatever your point of view, that’s what you are bringing to the table. Of course when trying to sell your products or services you want your audience to react positively – and sometimes that means pointing out some negative things that you can help them avoid. The whole point is to develop and then incorporate your personal style into your daily/weekly/monthly communications and begin to build that positve relationship. You should begin to see more positive results and develop a better understanding of how your products and services can help your customers – in a language that they can understand.
Of course if that fails there is always that Bubba Gump franchise…