Trial by fire

Do your customers understand your marketing material?

Have you ever seen a promotional video or flyer and just flinched? Something so disconnected from what you (as a potential customer) might want that it’s almost painful to watch? It got me thinking, how many new businesses have actually met their customers? How many actually vet their (top of funnel) marketing materials with customers?

Did they understand you?

Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve met your customer, and you’ve got a good understanding of what they want. Next step, creating some materials to help promote your business to them. It’s incredible how many different ways there are for one set of words to be interpreted. When they see your material, even if they weren’t overwhelmed, it’s important they hear the right message.

Think of the most interesting advert that you can, what do you remember about it? What message did you get from it? It’s not often that more than three key points get taken away from any collateral (except for possibly detailed spec sheets). You might have multiple supporting points, but they should all lead towards the same tightly defined key message(s). Don’t try to cram too much into one piece of collateral (unless it’s a bottom of funnel piece), your customer won’t be able to digest or recall it. You’ll want to make sure that your point is being unambiguously being driven home.

Did you dip your toes in first?

Whether you’re running a web business that sells to a large consumer audience, or a high-end niche business, the time & cost involved in getting your solution in-front of customers is always high. Going out with material that isn’t leaving your customers with the right message is a waste of your very precious resources.

Instead of a trial-by-fire approach that could potentially burn some prospects, it might be better to test your materials on a sample audience first. Understand what they take away and how they react. Refine your materials based on this feedback so that your customer can easily recall the intended key messages. The key thing here is “test on a sample audience”, not your mum.

The time taken to refine your materials will be less than what’s lost by going out with something unclear, but be careful not to get stuck in analysis-paralysis, or a never-ending cycle of improvement.


If you read this and take-away only one thing, hopefully it will be “Clearly define up-to three key points that you want your customers to recall, then test on real customers”. Message received?

Moscow ballet dancers

Watch the ballet. Save the world.

Earlier this year I attended Ballet under the Stars, I haven’t been to the ballet in years and it was definitely worthwhile! It was actually a dress rehearsal, but the organizers had very kindly agreed to allow children from MINDS to attend free of charge. It was a private viewing of the ballet mixed with really fun interaction from the Artistic Director (choreographer).

I’m pretty sure it didn’t cost the theater company anything, and was helpful for the performers to have an audience. It had tremendous value for the kids & their parents though, not to mention our team of volunteers (who were suitably impressed). Even though it was a great opportunity, there wasn’t any press coverage. They did it because it was a good thing to do. It was a small contribution to making the world a better place.

“The Marc Benioff approach of choosing one thing that you can work towards is a great way to ensure your business makes a positive difference in the communities it serves, while ensuring that you aren’t biting off more than you can chew. What one thing does your business do to help others?” – Richard Branson

Whether it’s Richard Branson who thinks that protecting our natural resources is a great entrepreneurial opportunity, or Marc Bernioff who is committed to creating equal opportunities for women in the workplace – one thing is clear. You can make a profit, get some good PR, and save the world at the same time. If you Google either of these two moguls you’ll see articles talking about their social work, but both are very distinct. They’ve focused on specific areas and are recognized as personalities that represent the cause. Whilst trying to save the world, they’re recognized as being evangelists for their particular cause. Which is much more news worthy than being known as “that guy that does alot of charity work”.

Rather than jumping at every opportunity, find one cause that you believe in and work towards it. It’ll help you develop expertise in an area, achieve more – and for the Machiavellian, might lead to some recognition & good PR opportunities.

What do you believe in?