When I receive communications from brands that begin with ‘Thank you for being a loyal customer bla bla bla…’, I feel like strangling the copywriter who wrote that opening.
But I am a fellow copywriter too, so perhaps just a smacking will suffice.
If I can’t find Coke, I’d probably drink Pepsi. No Pringles? Yeah okay, Mr. Potato will do. When Maxis sucked, I moved on to Digi.
Like most consumers, I’m hardly loyal. And I’ve repeatedly cheated on the brands that think I am their loyal customer. There is a significant difference between being loyal to a brand and being loyal to something that influences your life such as a loved one.
That difference is called emotion.
Brands try really hard to make an emotional connection with their customers, but often fail miserably. There is just no way for a brand to replace what really matters; like family, friends, career and all other attributes that make up our personality.
So I feel annoyed at the capacity of brands to assume that I am loyal to an entity that is purely after my money. But the truth is:
I am not loyal, I have no choice.
I would end my relationship with you the moment someone offers me a better deal, and as long as I have nothing to lose by moving on.
Yes, the caveat is ‘if I have nothing to lose’. Which is why, mortgages have a ‘lock-in’ period that charges a hefty sum. Also the reason behind why telcos have contracts that impose a penalty upon termination.
And then they have the cheek to call me loyal!
If brand communications were truthful, then that letter would say ‘thank you for not going to our competitor, we really need your money to pay our inflated corporate salaries bla bla bla…’
Look, I believe in advertising, especially since I’ve toiled in the industry as a copywriter for the past 15 years or so.
But I also believe some things should not be advertised. While most products and services can benefit from incisive communication strategies coupled with compelling creative executions and targeted message dissemination; I believe those in the ad industry itself should not be advertising themselves.
In recent months, I’ve seen newspapers proclaiming that ‘print is the way to go’ and radio stations promising ‘increased sales’. And the fact that they are advertising in their own pages and airwaves seemed rather desperate.
Advertisers (or clients) will naturally go where there is a large audience. I think media owners should work on strengthening their audience base rather than proclaiming that their medium is a cure-all for communication conundrums.
It’s so obvious that the digital and social revolutions are giving traditional media – especially Print and Radio – stiff competition in terms of ad revenue. These traditional players must begin to realise that they cannot remain unchallenged and must improve on content and engagement, whilst embracing the future of communication.
It will take more than just advertising in-own-media to pry the ad Ringgits that are increasingly being channeled towards online advertising. And we all know that advertising a substandard product will only make it fail faster.
But then again, here are some interesting bits to chew on, based on a 2013 Global Survey of Trust in Advertising by Nielsen for Malaysia:
- 72% of consumers in the country trust newspaper ads
- Credibility of traditional advertising remains high compared to online paid media
- Trust in digital ads such as online banners and social media hover at around 50%
- Confidence in online advertising is swiftly growing, with ad spend forecast to touch US$34 billion in Asia Pacific by 2015
- Word-of-mouth still remains the best form of advertising, at 86% trust level
So, while traditional advertising still plays a major role in ad campaigns and strategies, online advertising is fast catching up and cannot be ignored any longer.
Traditional media owners have realised this, hence the desperate attempt to advertise themselves. Only time will tell how long they can remain profitable while clutching to fading hopes.
And in case you didn’t notice, word-of-mouth is still and will always be advertising’s top performer. Maybe it’s wise to spark conversations rather than pour money down the media drain.
In my 15 odd years as a copywriter, the word ‘different’ is something I’ve constantly heard from clients.
There nothing wrong with wanting to be different, but the truth is copywriting alone cannot position a product or service as being different in the eyes of consumers. If what you offer is also being offered by a gazillion other competitors, then simply saying ‘we’re different’ isn’t going to cut it.
Difference does not come from how copy is crafted, it comes from the core of your business itself. A few examples:
- A totally new or innovative product that fills an existing untapped need (I know, not the easiest thing to discover)
- The difference in serving customers (you have to go beyond saying ‘thank you’)
- The way your company operates or a distinct difference in culture (easier said than done)
If your business cannot align itself with any of the above points of differentiation, then sadly the copywriting can only be skewed or tweaked to a certain extent. We copywriters call it tone and manner of delivery; which is to craft the same message your competitors are saying in an alternate way.
But tone and manner can only differentiate how you are saying it, but not what you are saying. Sometimes, how you say it can make a difference, but if your business can figure out something totally different to say, then your proposition becomes more meaningful.
If you want to be different, you’ve got to back it up by living and breathing distinctiveness. Don’t just expect a different copywriting tone and manner to mask the same-ol’.
You have to be the crazy one, the misfit, the rebel, the troublemaker… the one who see things differently.