Marketing is a diverse field–consider the disparity between McDonalds’ marketing and Apple. Very different products require very different branding and very different creative strategies.
Given this, you might ask: how can I tell when brand marketing is good?
While there is no single right answer, there are some useful heuristics. EverWonder attended Inbound, a HubSpot event, where presenters featured four criteria for remarkable brand marketing:
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can use them to gauge the quality of your own marketing. These criteria are like having all the right ingredients to bake a cake (a delicious cake). They are necessary, but not sufficient- you can make a cake with them, but still need to mix them and put them in the oven.
Clarity: Communication Without Obstacle
It’s easy to see why clarity is important to marketing. At the end of the day, marketing is simply the act of communicating information about your product or service. Ideally, that communication should flow clearly, without obstacles.
In the HubSpot talk, the presenters offered a simple measure for clarity:
- Would my mom understand this?
Of course, you can substitute “grandmother” or “neighbor” or “roommate” for “mom”. The point is that someone unrelated to marketing would be able to understand it without obstacles.
Good, clear marketing is understandable by anyone. Bad, unclear marketing makes sense only to whoever wrote it.
While this is a good rule of thumb, there are exceptions, as there are for any rule. In highly technical fields, with a very niche audience, it may not be possible or even appropriate to tailor the marketing to your mother or roommate. In this case, you may be able to substitute a different kind of person.
For example, suppose you are creating marketing materials for a company that does quality assurance for pharmaceutical manufacturing. There’s no getting around jargon and acronyms specific to that industry, such as “QMS” and “personnel management”. So you might ask instead: Would a junior lab intern understand this?
Clarity in marketing, then, comes down to identifying a common denominator with your audience and gearing the language toward them. To quote the great genius, Einstein, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”.
Persuasion: Convincing People To Buy
It may seem obvious that marketing is ultimately about convincing people to buy goods and services, but many companies get sidetracked and forget this fact. They focus too much on branding and storytelling, instead of selling. While such strategies are important for long-term growth and customer awareness, they will not be as effective without directly trying to get people to buy.
In the presentation, the presenters gave a simple concept for persuasion:
- Do I know why this brand/product is better?
You can do branding all day long without proving that your brand is the best. Compare Jeep and Rolls-Royce, for example. These two brands have used branding to carve out very different customer bases. One is associated with rugged, adventurous overtones, while the other is associated with high-class, luxury overtones.
Their branding has given them two different customer bases, yet people don’t buy a car simply because they identify with the branding. They also take into account specific features that make a difference to them–in this case, features like gas mileage, safety ratings, and price.
When it comes to persuasion, then, Rolls-Royce doesn’t have to convince you they are better than Jeep. Instead, they have to convince you they are better than Porsche.
Engagement: Making People Feel
On the one hand, marketing and advertising is about educating and informing the public about the facts related to your brand. But on the other hand, people don’t make buying decisions based on reason alone. Emotion is necessary to make decisions.
Neurological research confirms this idea. Patients with brain trauma affecting emotional brain centers have difficulty making decisions, even on a purely rational basis.
When it comes to marketing, you have almost the full spectrum of human emotions to work with, both good and bad. People will pay attention to content that is funny or endearing. And they will really pay attention to content that scares them. This is why it is so important for marketers to address “pain points” – the actual problems that your product is trying to solve.
In the HubSpot talk, the presenters gave a simple idea for persuasion:
- Does it give me goosebumps or giggles?
Ideally, it should give you both. Giggles will make people remember and share what they saw. Goosebumps will make them go out and buy it.
Actionability: Making The Next Step Obvious
Actionability is the most pragmatic quality we are going to look at. Obviously, you want potential customers to do something when they see your content. This could be anything from clicking on a link, to signing up for a newsletter, to making a purchase.
Yet this is one of the easiest ways to get absolutely nothing out of your marketing if you skip it. The next step should be obvious and clearly marked out with big signs and flashing letters, so to speak.
In most cases, this is as simple as including a relevant Call to Action, or CTA. Usually, more than one is necessary. A good rule of thumb for web pages is to make sure that there is always one CTA visible, no matter how far down the page a customer scrolls.
The HubSpot presenters gave a simple heuristic for actionability:
- Do I know where I can go from here?
One common metaphor in marketing is the customer journey. You want to guide them along a path from not knowing anything about your brand, to buying your product, and ultimately even telling other people about your product.
But here’s the catch: the customer journey doesn’t exist all by itself. You have to make it exist, by putting up signposts wherever you can. This is just as true of a new highway as it is for marketing.
Conclusion: Measuring Creativity
In the HubSpot presentation, these qualities were given as measures of good creativity. And it’s not hard to see why – creative marketing should definitely be clear, persuasive, engaging, and actionable.
Creativity is such a broad and multifaceted concept that it can be hard to pin down or measure. That’s why you can only measure it by broad, general qualities, like the ones we looked at here.
Obviously, these qualities apply specifically to marketing, and less to other forms of creativity. Picasso might have wanted his paintings to be engaging, but he probably wasn’t trying to get anyone to click a link or fill out a form.
For your own marketing, then, consider these four criteria as a base. They are a great foundation for good marketing, and if your content has them, you have a strong chance of getting results.