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Is Your Marketing Putting Customers to Sleep? 5 Tips to Wake Things Up

by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

While the myth that tryptophan-laden turkey causes sleepiness has been busted, here’s one thing that remains true: Boring marketing puts customers to sleep. And if they’re snoring, they’re ignoring you.

Move away from constantly barraging customers with sales offers, tired graphics and lackluster copy that make online and offline marketing dull, and try one or more of these tactics to refresh your marketing communications with clients and your business:

1.    Seek Inspiration: Look beyond your usual sources for ideas, suggests Lynn Maleh, PR coordinator for Westminster, CO–based The Alternative Board. “Pinterest is my go-to for organizing my inspiration. I have boards for copy and design.” It’s also a good place to see what people in your target audience are pinning, because it tells you what they like, aspire to or are inspired by.

2.    Write Stronger Communications: Improve your copy by steering clear of over-used phrases and other generic language. Dan Slagen, the CMO of Boston-based HourlyNerd, offers two terms to avoid: “Best practice — the best way to mediocrity is to copy everyone else. And innovate. If this is something a company needs to say, then they need to innovate on their innovation initiative.” Sometimes it’s necessary to deploy frequently used terms, but whenever possible, you should focus on more descriptive words with punch or zip. Bonus tip: Trim your copy by 15 percent to keep your messages tighter.

3.    Get More Colorful: “Even if your core brand/logo colors are black and white, find an accent color because people will naturally respond to it,” says Shemiah Williams, president of Chicago-based Modern Graffiti Marketing Group. “I don't think any colors are off limits if they feel complementary to your brand visuals. They don't have to match; sometimes colors that seem off can accent your central colors or images.” Consult a copy and print professional for the most cost-effective ways to add a splash of color to your collateral materials, signage and giveaways.

4.    Improve Your Images: “Images, whether a stock image or graphic, have more impact — especially when marketers are working with smaller and smaller screen real estate,” says Preeti Upadhyaya, a content marketing specialist with San Mateo, CA–based WebDAM. Visuals may communicate faster, and more, than words can. “You want something that looks more natural and does a good job of getting your main point across, which is usually a call to action.” If you’re using stock photography, “it’s not a good idea to just plop them in in their original form,” she says. “Customize them with different colors, filters and badges, and put your own call to action in them.”

5.    Don’t Be Afraid to Pay: Sometimes you might not have the time or skill to perk up your own marketing. Rather than sticking with what you’ve got, hire a professional for an infusion of creativity. “For the business to be successful, someone is going to have to do the work eventually,” says Scott Robertson, CEO of Robertson Communications Corp. in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. “And if the owner doesn’t have the skills, it will not be a productive way for them to spend their time.” Robertson suggests allocating 10 percent of annual profits to marketing. “If monthly retainers are scary, many firms and consultants will work on a per-project basis.”

Before you employ any of these marketing refreshers, establish some benchmarks to help you understand what works and what doesn’t in your existing marketing efforts. This enables you to create new marketing based on what you know your customers respond to. Track things like phone or email inquiries, and where they come from; likes, retweets or check-ins; conversions, redemptions and sales, etc.

“Customer behaviors will change over time,” says Allyson Van Houten, brand manager for email marketing service provider MailChimp in Atlanta. “Testing content and regularly reviewing your goals and tactics gives you the ability to adjust your strategies easily over time. Using this information, you can target messaging to a segment of your list, or know what you can phase out of your program.”

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