The Nine Biggest
Traps to Avoid in Marketing Materials:
How to Turn Dull into Dynamic
Linda Angér, The Write Concept, Inc.
"Nothing is carved in stone," my client said with a smile,
handing me the latest iteration of a brochure he'd been working on for
six weeks. "Thank Goodness," I thought, as I read through a
dozen paragraphs of chest-pounding text interspersed with out-of-context
clip art. He had a great idea and a great product. He also had a brochure
guaranteed to eliminate any chance of making a sale and laden with deadly
communication errors. Here are nine to consider:
1. "Also Do" Thinking. If you cannot describe your
product or service in a single sentence, you're probably out of focus or
trying to pack too much in. As the famed author, Washington Gladden, once
said, "It is better to say, 'the one thing I do well' than to say,
'the 40 things I dabble in'."
2. Scattered Thinking. Your readers will not remember your message
unless it is presented in logical order, and in a mind-pleasing layout.
Columnar text, as is commonly used in tri-fold brochures, is less
inviting to the human brain than text and graphics laid out in a
"Z" format - even if you are using a tri-fold paper structure.
3. Text, but no Tales. People rarely remember your words, but they
do remember the images your words inspire. Human-interest tales draw the
audience into the action or idea, and great stories are always more compelling
4. No Emotional Connection. Powerful communication combines
intellect and emotion. Data and reasoned arguments appeal to intellect,
but emotion engages the reader's imagination. No matter what a customer
tells you, all buying decisions are first made emotionally. "Techs
and specs" come into play only as rationalization for the emotional
decision. Use common, emotive language as much as possible, and put the
technical stuff on the back page or a separate product sheet.
5. The Wrong Abstraction. Know your audience. If your readers are
specification-hungry linear thinkers, the big-picture story will leave
them flat. Likewise, the visionary, big-picture folks will fall asleep if
you drown them in data. Feed them according to their appetite, not yours.
6. No White Space. Aaron Sorkin, the gifted creator of the
successful TV drama, The West Wing, said: "Great language has
exactly the same properties as great music. It has rhythm, it has pitch,
it has tone, it has accents." Long blocks of unbroken text are
daunting to people accustomed to rapid scanning on the Internet. White
space allows the eyes to rest between important pieces of information. A
pause in your presentation lets your message "sink in" before
you dive into the next point. Brains need breathing space.
7. Saying Too Much. Good writing and great
speeches are like star athletes - they are lean and muscular. Write the
first draft of your brochure or speech with utter abandon. Go back to it
24 or 48 hours later, cut it in half and edit down from there, aiming for
lean, punchy content. But be careful: anorexic content is as
disastrous as its fat-laden cousin.
8. A Weak Opening and Closing. Get to the point in your first
sentence. Your readers will click away, slip away, or flip your piece
into the trash if you waste time with rambling, introductory
explanations. Open with a powerful, compelling headline or statement.
Fill the middle with persuasive, emotion-driven benefits, and end with a
strong call to immediate action or an irresistible offer. You want your
audience to sing your tune long after they've finished reading or you've
left the stage.
9. Misused Technology. Technology has added showbiz
capability to the world of marketing. That doesn't mean it is effective
in all markets. Use technology - particularly slide presentations - as a
support to your message, not as the message itself. Be prepared to give
your presentation without any visual aids, just in case the computer
system or your slide presentation isn't working properly.
Linda Anger is the president and principal writer/designer
of The Write Concept, Inc. in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Linda holds
primary responsibility for business development and management, and
oversees all copywriting, graphic design and PR support projects. Typical
projects include content and layout for advertising, annual reports and
magazines, press releases, brochures and marketing letters, web site
content, and book compositing. Her client list has included
DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Golson Books, Ltd. (New York), Hanek Book
Design (New York & Santa Fe), and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center.
Visit the website at: www.thewriteconcept.com.
Tips For A Great
By: David Benjamin, Recruiting
Manger for The Sales Matrix
Over the past five years, I have had a countless number of candidates ask
me to help them prepare for their interview. There are some common
mistakes both interviewees and interviewers make that I will address in
this article. In both cases, proper preparation is the key and
without it, a less than desirable outcome is common.
Let's first discuss some common mistakes
interviewers make in their interviewing process. Whether your
company is a multibillion dollar Fortune 500 company or a 2M startup
company, the processes and procedures for conducting an interview should
be the same. Companies have spent thousands of dollars in research
to make sure they are conducting interviews that produce successful
key point is this: you are interviewing to eliminate, not select!
This mindset is critical to reducing hiring mistakes. If you are
interviewing to eliminate, you are much more objective than if you are
interviewing to select. You are less subject to your "gut
feelings" on a candidate and making rationalizations which can
lead to poor hiring decisions. As I think back to some of my
client's hiring mistakes over the years, it was due to them hiring to
fill a position vs. hiring because they found a candidate matching all
a company finds the right candidate, they are more likely to hire that
if they didn't have an open position!
Now let's turn our attention to the interviewee and some of the common
mistakes I see. In my opinion, most candidates do not prepare
enough for their interview. They assume that because they have been
in the workforce for many years, they know their industry and how to
answer questions thrown at them. Just as Tiger Woods needs to
outwork the competition with his rigorous workout regimen to remain on
top, so too does the candidate in job transition-- especially in today's
I have compiled a top 10 list of things to consider when preparing for an
1. Research the company you are
interviewing with- go on their website, look up their financials, ask
your network what they know about the company. All feedback is good
Ask professionals who specialize in resume writing to critique your
resume- this is your marketing material and you want it to 'sell you'
accurately and honestly. Make sure you bring enough copies to the
interview even if they already have a copy.
3. Dress appropriately- This seems
like a no brainer but each industry is different, make sure your attire
is appropriate for that specific industry.
4. Be on time- I have always recommended
to be in the parking lot 15 minutes before your interview. Anything
short of that and you will be hurried and not be at your peak
5. Give clear and concise answers-
When answering a question don't be afraid to pause for a second or two
before giving your answer. Avoid being too wordy or too
vague. Check in with your interviewer to make sure you answered the
6. Use examples of prior experiences-
Interviewers are not mind readers. They want to hear specifically
what you have done for others, which allows them to visualize what you
may be able to do for them.
7. Smile- Even though interviews can
be grueling and no fun, you want to come across as enthusiastic and
positive. Sit up straight in your chair and deliver your answers
with confidence and excitement.
8. Ask for the job- At the end of the
interview, if you think you might be interested in the position, let them
know and ask for next steps in the process. Companies are looking
for professionals who know what they want and how to get it.
9. Ask questions- You should have
already prepared a list of questions to ask at the end of your
interview. Interviewers identify their best candidates as those
that are engaged in the process.
10. Write a Thank You letter- Nowadays, emailing a thank you
letter is generally accepted but a hand written note will set you apart
from the competition. Have a respected professional review your
letter before sending it out.
David Benjamin is a Recruiting Manager for The Sales Matrix, a National
sales consulting firm. Since 2001, The Sales Matrix has delivered a
stronger sales force to its clients, increasing revenues while
maintaining margins with each and every client to date. Prior to
entering the recruitment industry in 2003, David spent eight years
simultaneously as a financial advisor and Assistant
Manager for a Wall Street based Investment Firm, where he earned the
Rookie of the Year award in 1996 and Mentor of the Year award in
1997. With his unique background and experience in sales,
recruitment, and management, David has successfully helped his
clients increase revenue and hire top level professionals. He
currently focuses on working with clients seeking successful sales, human
resources, and executive level professionals. David also enjoys
speaking to groups, including Universities, Associations, Networking
events, and Rotary Clubs. To learn more visit www.thesalesmatrix.com or
contact David Benjamin by phone (248).496.1880, or