Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Don’t Waste Your Money on Marketing Like This

I won’t embarrass this company by naming it, but boy, they could use some marketing help. They really haven’t got a clue.

I found their quarter-page ad in the program guide of a play I attended.
here’s what it contained:

• An attractive, professionally done logo with the firm name (but no clue either in the name or in the graphic representation about what this company actually does)
• This very pleasant quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” (Still don’t know what they do)
• Street address, phone number and Web URL–which is such an abridgment of the firm name that it does nothing to reinforce brand identity

I am guessing I will be the only person to type in that URL on the basis of that ad–and only because I wanted to be able to write this blog post. Turns out it’s a financial services firm, ad even that wasn’t obvious at first glance. the home page is dominated by a picture of a park and skyline in a nearby city–but this company is actually located in a nearby suburb.

And the copy–oy! It’s the perfect example of what I call “we, we, we all the way home.” See for yourself:

We are a fully integrated financial services company. Our mission is to help our clients build, protect and preserve wealth to meet their long-term financial goals.

(Firm name)’s centerpiece is our own unique Process approach, which allows us to offer comprehensive advice to our clients. We have an exceptional degree of expertise across four disciplines, including Wealth Transfer, Investment Management, Executive and Employee Benefits. Each discipline works together to meet our client’s goals.

Let’s see…out of 74 words, eight are either “we”, “our”, or “us”. That works out to 10.8 percent.

Now…how many times can you find a “you” or your”? I’ll give you a hint: a four-letter number that begins with z and ends with o. Yup–zero. They do say “clients” or “client’s” twice, d would have been easy to replace those with “you” and “your”, respectively.

Okay, how about any testimonials? None on the home page. How about anything about what makes the “Process approach” (and whose idea was that bizarre capitalization scheme?) different from/superior to any other agency’s offering? Nope.

I’m sure this is a well-meaning company and probably does right for their clients–but I think they could have more clients if they stopped patting themselves on the back, stopped assuming people know what they do by their firm name (two last names), and started positioning themselves as people who can help answer your investment questions.

And yes, I know, the ad that caught my ire was a charity ad that they don’t really expect to bring them any business. But why exclude the possibility?

It would have been just as easy to make the Emerson quote smaller (it fills fully half the ad) and then add a line like “For enthusiasm about growing your investments, please call or visit.”

It would have cost nothing more to make the home page you-focused, and to make it obvious on first click what exactly their offering and what their specialization is. (A headline would help; there isn’t one).

And then people say marketing doesn’t work. Of course it isn’t going to work if you can’t be bothered to even try!

Unfortunately, this is all too typical.

I’m sorely tempted to dig through the contact page and send a gratis copy of my book Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World–but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be appreciated.


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