The Flynn effect is a factor in standardized intelligence testing that means test-makers must adjust tests every few years because test-takers have been getting progressively more intelligent.
Though there's no similar officially recognized term for how people interact with marketing, it's clear that today's consumers are more sophisticated than those even 10 years ago. This means some sales standbys are at best invisible—and at worst annoying—if you keep them in your marketing repertoire. Do you know how updated your marketing is?
X Out Of Y Experts Agree
This staple of TV and print ads relied on the inability of your audience to actually research those findings on their own. Consumers can now research the validity of these statements and find that those Y experts you asked were chosen because you knew they liked (or you paid them to like) your product. This kind of generalized claim no longer holds water.
Instead, offer specific points of data—preferably inside an infographic—with clear, hyperlinked citations of where you got your information. That kind of sourcing gives your claims weight, and few customers are as loyal as a skeptic who checked you out and found you were being honest.
"Exciting" And "Powerful" Are Anything But In Marketing
You can replace these with any other decorative, meaningless buzzword like "proactive" or "unique." They don't actually mean anything, and often do more harm than good. They're the marketing equivalent of that one guy at your last job who just hung out in the back of the meetings and never pulled his weight.
Replace these with one of two techniques:
- Eliminate the words entirely. In most cases, you can improve a sentence by deleting the word and making no other changes.
- Find a more specific and evocative way to express what you're trying to say. "Innovative" becomes "the result of five years of research partnered with NASA." "Powerful" becomes "operating at three times the speed as the XYZ processor that broke records last year."
Act Now! Limited Time Offer!
Remember hearing late-night TV ads that promised a special deal to the "next 100 callers" and wondering how the operators standing by knew when that particular ad aired? By now, you know that there was no cap; they gave the offer to everybody who called. This kind of false time pressure doesn't work anymore because consumers can always find some kind of discount from another vendor.
Focus instead on what makes your company unique, creating not a scarcity of time but a scarcity of supply. Establish in every communication why clients can't get what they need from anybody but you.
Modern marketing is about relationships. You connect with your clients and potential customers, listen to what they have to say, and respond in a way that proves you listened. To the extent you use mass-mailings, consider just throwing away anything not addressed to a specific individual. At least you'll save on postage.
Applying this to social, you should shy away from one-way blasts or announcements that leave no room for engagement—the digital equivalent of sending a "Dear resident" letter in the mail, and favor posts that invite and return response.
Outdated SEO Tactics
In what could be considered the first incidence of search engine optimization, businesses used to add the letter A to the front of their names to get the first listing in the phone book. Obviously, that trick doesn't work anymore because almost nobody uses the physical phone book.
Some businesses are still relying on other outdated SEO tricks like keyword stuffing, content duplication and blogging without social engagement. Jettison all these tricks and replace them with excellent content shared tactically on your social media platforms.
On one hand, you should always guarantee satisfaction. If a customer isn't happy with his experience, the risk of blowing him off far outweighs the benefit of what little money you might save making things right.
On the other hand, this isn't something to brag about. It's a baseline requirement for an honest business. Instead of putting this in bold text somewhere, include a page on your website that details your fair, honest complaint and return policy.
What sales words make you grind your teeth with the effort of not firing the employee who uttered them? Tell us what—and why—in the comments below.
Jason has contributed over 2,000 blog and magazine articles to publications local, regional and national. He speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at his website.
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