A lot of marketing directors are constantly tweaking their messaging.

Sure, it's easy to get jammed up. Especially when you've got so many moving parts to consider. But I've spotted a few common issues that show up in the messaging of all kinds of businesses, whether they're brand new or three decades established.

In most cases, your best bet is to pause and look at things from a fresh perspective.

Like sandwiches...

I'm going explain what I mean by that, and give you five reasons your marketing messages aren't hitting the spot—yet.

1. You have too many ingredients

Admit it. You're cramming your website and marketing materials with every feature and benefit you can think of.

I know, I know: You're trying to persuade leads your option is the best. And you don't want them to miss a thing.

But that's like asking 372 people what their favorite sandwich is, then shoving every one of those fillings into a giant baguette.

Total flavor overload.

Worse, it's like putting that baguette in a blender. Your features and benefits become an unappetizing sludge, disguising the ingredients your prospects actually want.

Consider this image from a homepage:

Can you tell what makes the company special? And what's in it for you?

Too many messages choke up the page, making it impossible for people to digest what you're selling.

Your customers want powerful, singular flavors—the messaging equivalent of BLTs, Veggie New Yorkers, and PB&Js.

Look how Box.com does that by picking out a few flavorsome nuggets:

Wistia.com also does a great job of boiling things down:

So keep your messaging as simple as the label on a packet sandwich.

  • Focus on three core propositions
  • Get to the point fast
  • Make it super clear what you're offering

Doing that will help deliver your messages in a strong, relevant, and memorable way.

2. You're selling only the melted cheese

Why do we love sandwiches? Because they're tasty and they're convenient.

The problem with a lot of marketing messages is that they focus only on the tasty bit, the ingredients:

Take this example:

These are just dull, nondescript services, so vague they leave the reader's mind bulging with questions.

And if I can't picture it, I can't understand it, as Einstein once said.

That company later evolved its messaging to this:

See how they've flipped the messaging into the benefit of using those services?

Now you can picture what's in for you.

You already know that features tell and benefits sell. But I'll say it one more time: Don't sell just the melted cheese, sell the convenience.

3. You're not adding enough mayo

You could argue that benefits alone are fairly run-of-the-mill fare, fairly pedestrian. And if your leads are weighing you up against the competition, benefits are probably not enough to give you that winning edge.

Don't miss the chance to squirt extra mayonnaise on your messages using emotion and imagery. That makes everything taste better.

Take my lunch, today. It's wasn't just an egg salad sandwich:

It was a British egg salad sandwich with farmhouse Cheddar on soft rye bread.

Those paint pictures that subtly draw us closer to a purchase.

In this case, that's rolling green fields with happy hens and a ruddy-cheeked farmer churning the milk for my cheddar. Plus bread so fresh, it's beautifully soft.

Now, let's have a look at the B2B example of a mobile technology business:

Sure, I can see some nice benefits here: saved costs, improved efficiency. But it sounds kinda boring, don't you think?

Now compare it with this copy from another mobile technology business, Qualcomm:


Life-changing technology... Changing how business gets done... Redefining industries... Making the impossible, possible... It reads like a blockbuster thriller.

So you see, adding extra mayo can turn the drabbest sandwich into something irresistibly delicious. And you can do the same for your marketing messages.

I put this to the theory test on my website email capture form, and this is what happened.

Here's the signup box before:

And here's the punched up, extra mayo version:

Result: newsletter signup rates increased from 2% to 9%.

That's a four-fold uplift for my mailing list. Just by reframing a few words.

Rigorously scientific, I'm sure you'll agree... But my point is that adding emotion and imagery to your messages can really rev-up your conversions.

In a nutshell? Don't be boring. Add extra mayo.

4. You're not loitering in Pret A Manger enough

If you're guessing which messages to prioritize, here's the thing: You're too close to make that call accurately.

You might be excited by new flavors and functionalities. But your leads? Just because you love baconaise, doesn't mean they will. You're better off chucking your messages into a brown paper bag and picking the first three that come to hand.

Instead, start loitering in the places your customers hang out...

Cruise online groups, forums, YouTube comments, Facebook posts, hashtags, Reddit and Quora discussions, Amazon feedback...

Become a bloodhound for what your prospects are talking about. Sniff out common niggles, challenges, dreams, and goals.

Look at this TrustRadar review for Toggl.com:

That kind of thing is honey for your messaging.

Next, you'll want to validate your findings via your email list or social media following, or both. Use online polls. If you need to, give incentives to people to respond. Or fork out for third-party research.

All that will help you sculpt messages with the precision of a titanium-coated bread knife.

5. Stop saying 'portable lunchtime solutions' and just say 'sandwiches'

And finally... as you super-sleuth your way to better messages, ask yourself: Are you poaching the language of your customers?

The nicknames, the slang, everything.

Peppering your copy with their informal words and statements is a powerful way to gain your customers' trust.

For example, said nobody ever: "We need a holistic solution in which time recording will help us identify administrative miscalculations and revenue loss."

However, they might have said this: "We're guesstimating our time and we're making mistakes. We're busy and we need a better handle on people's time."

See how LetsFreckle.com reflect this language back in their messaging:

The approachable and friendly tone speaks for itself.

Now let's say you're an IT support company... You could say this: "Our fully staffed field engineer team members are able to quickly provide punctual onsite support when required."

Or you could swipe a phrase from a customer testimonial and say: "Our engineers turn up on the button."

You see where I'm going with this.

Quickbooks.com use a real testimonial as a headline:

Social proof and customer language. Persuasive, huh?

Keep a spreadsheet of testimonials and comments. Tap into it when you're writing your marketing messages. It's a treasure map to your customers' hearts.

That's a wrap

So, marketing folks. Next time you get your buns in a twist, try to imagine you're selling sandwiches.

Quite painlessly, you can use these tips to turn your business into the most delicious sandwich on an overcrowded deli counter.

Over to you...

What's stopping you from pinning down your marketing messages?

Which companies are really nailing it these days?

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Five Reasons Your Marketing Messages Aren't Hitting the Spot, and How to Make Sure They Do

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image of Tamsin Henderson

Tamsin Henderson writes apathy-crushing case studies for the B2B technology industry. You can find her here. She also runs The Complete Copywriting Course. Her favorite sandwich is egg mayo on sourdough.

Twitter:  @YesYesTam