Resonant Marketing: Avoiding Common Mistakes That Alienate Your Audience

Sometimes following your first instinct isn't the best way forward. Here are four common pitfalls and how to make sure you don't lose your step.

Don't let your audience go adrift.

Intuition. Since the conception of marketing as we know it, intuition has driven some of the most impactful, action-spurring, market-moving campaigns to date. But that’s not the only factor informing modern marketing. With countless case studies to draw from, we now have a documented history of the most successful—and disastrous—campaigns of the past few decades. 

Whether you’re a copywriter, art director, content marketer, or anyone else leading campaign development, here are four major marketing mistakes—and how to avoid them:

1. Trying to do too much with one campaign

Will it create a positive brand impression? Will it cater to my entire audience? Will people respond? Will it drive sales? These are just a few of the questions that marketing leaders ask when crafting campaigns. But one campaign can’t do all things. The more you try to achieve with a single campaign, the more you dilute your impact—and risk falling flat. 

First, you need to clarify your objective—then, strategically design your campaign around that central goal. A careful process pays off, distinguishing a strong content marketing strategy from a weak one. 

One example of a streamlined, specific, and ultimately successful campaign? “Share a Coke.” Instead of trying to do too much, the marketers behind this ad did one thing—and they did it really well.

The campaign is essentially one loud call to action (CTA), which typically plays a bottom-of-page, read-the-fine-print role in marketing materials. With “Share a Coke,” only one element of each product was altered, only one phrase was used, and only one action was requested of the audience. When it came time for expansion, they simply added more names to bottles. The campaign was more of a social media movement than anything—and it worked. 

2. Straying too far from your brand identity

While it’s certainly not advisable to stay squarely within a box, straying too far out of bounds can backfire just as easily. Remaining true to your brand identity makes your company trustworthy—and trust drives sales. 

In 1982, Colgate—the well-established, well-loved toothpaste company—extended its product line to sell frozen meals. Yes, you read that right. Colgate Kitchen Entrees, stamped with the same logo that appears on toothpaste tubes across the globe, was trying to break into the frozen food category. And it didn’t stick. 

Would the venture have succeeded if Colgate wasn’t already an established leader in the toothpaste arena? Maybe. But we can’t blame consumers for failing to reconcile a frozen dinner with a mint-flavored, medicine-cabinet item.

The takeaway? Don’t stretch too far out of bounds—especially if you’re already spearheading one category. And if you do want to branch out in a new direction, learn from Colgate’s mistake and develop some new branding first. 

3. Running tone-deaf content

Sometimes, a campaign makes it through all the gatekeepers and it’s still no good. Campaigns can offend audiences for a variety of reasons—whether social, cultural, political, or historical. And there’s never been a less acceptable time to make this kind of mistake.

From the Pepsi-Kendall Jenner protest fiasco to Adidas’s Black History Month white shoe debacle, tone-deaf ads offer the same takeaway: consider your campaign’s context. Account for all of the ways it could potentially offend—and if there’s a question, just don’t do it.

While it’s important to spread awareness, be culturally relevant, and stand for a cause, jumping on a charged topic without careful deliberation is risky—and taking advantage of an important social issue or event for publicity is even worse. The bottom line? Don’t run a campaign that makes audiences ask, “Why did they think that was okay?”

4. Failing to practice inclusive marketing

Beyond avoiding outright offense, brands should make sure they’re not actively alienating or excluding anyone. By designing campaigns that include people from diverse demographics, backgrounds, and life experiences, you can relate to the most people possible—and meaningfully spread your brand message. 

An inclusive campaign doesn’t have to tackle a stereotype or inequity head-on, but it does have to contain content that reflects a wider, more diverse range of people and communities. According to research by Salesforce, 90% of consumers believe that businesses have a responsibility to look beyond profit and improve the state of the world. Inclusive marketing campaigns can do this, amplifying the voices of those who have been typically underrepresented, creating stronger connections with those customers, and even facilitating positive results.

So when it comes to your next campaign, don’t fall into defaults. Failing to embrace inclusivity won’t just set you back—it’ll make you irrelevant. And in an ever-growing marketplace overflowing with content, that’s the last thing you want to be. 

Looking for copywriters that can help you avoid these common marketing mistakes? Contact MarketSmiths today.

Hope Rothenberg

Hope Rothenberg

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