There's nothing like a snappy acronym to help you remember something useful, like SWOT, RAF, NASA, LASER, and so on.
But MAMBA? How can a venomous snake help you write better marketing communications?
It all started when my good friend and Master NLP Practitioner Sue Lickorish advised me to create a snappy acronym to help put over the key points of Powerwriting, a book of mine published in 2002, which is at this point metamorphosing into a live.
“People remember acronyms,” she opined as I cynically tried to turn the initials of these “hidden skills you need to transform your business writing” into a new, obscene-sounding four-letter word.
However the only acronym that made any sense—by a very unhappy coincidence—turned out to be a species of reptile. And the mere thought of snakes fills me with terror. Do I hear you say “poetic justice”? Ah, well. MAMBA it is, and here's why….
1. The First ‘M'—Message
You need to get the message right. You start that process by creating a brief for yourself based on sorting out your objective—what you want to achieve. It's no good thinking about what you want to say, because that often isn't what you need to achieve.
If you start by thinking of what you want to achieve, you'll keep yourself focused on outcomes, not subjective desires. That's usually a lot more productive.
2. The First ‘A'—Audience
If your message is going to work you don't just need to know who your audience is, but also how they feel, what they need, how they think. You need to know what makes them tick so that your message will be on their wavelength—and will appeal to them as soon as possible and for as long as possible.
You need to get out there and find out, too—not necessarily rely on demographics data or other impersonal research. For worthwhile results, touch and feel.
3. The Second ‘M'—Media
Or “medium,” as usually there's just the one. Before you can make the best of it, you need to understand its restrictions and its benefits.
And you need to understand in what way that medium delivers your message to the audience—can they read it at their leisure on well-printed paper, or will they be rushing through messages on a computer screen? Can they listen to it quietly as they drive along in their car, or will they hear it through tinny speakers on an exhibition stand with lots of ambient noise trying to drown it out?
4. The ‘B'—Benefits
We need to go back to that old sales issue of features versus benefits. Features are what something is, benefits are what it does for me. And here's the key to it: “what's in it for me?”
Cruel though it may seem, that's the only thing that really interests your audience. What's in it for them. They couldn't give a stuff about your bank loan or your mortgage or the repayments on the BMW or anything else that concerns you. Often they don't even care about what's in it for the greater good. They just care about what's in it for them—and the sooner you can get your teeth into that one, the better marketing communications you will write.
5. The Final ‘A'—Articulation
Putting the message to music. Choosing the right tone of voice and the right angle of language to get your audience on your side, and get them nodding in agreement with what you propose. This is also where we must be very strict with ourselves and avoid all temptation to talk about “us” and “we” —you know, “we” do this and “we” deliver that and “we” have umpty-dump years of experience at this or that…. No, afraid not. That's big turnoff time.
To keep our audience's attention, we design everything around “you,” the reader or viewer or listener. Whatever “we” have and whatever “we” are incredibly proud of, it has to be turned around into a benefit for “you” the audience. (If we don't, then no matter how wonderfully crafted the words are, they won't work.)
Now, and only now, should you start writing your marcoms text, script, copy or whatever. As you've worked through the MAMBA process, the words you write will be based on the right foundations and the right priorities. So they'll stand a fighting chance of achieving your marketing objectives every time.
And no, I don't think I'll ever get over my fear of snakes….