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Messages That Cut Through the Noise [Dear Ginny, WTH?]

dear ginny series

Dear Ginny WTH,

The web has proven to be a huge benefit for getting product and service messages to prospective buyers faster, easier, and more cost effectively than many traditional marketing vehicles. This expansion has given rise to even more marketing real estate in the form of banners, sponsored links, blogs, etc. There are quite a lot of marketing content out there. The question is: Are the customers getting it?

Sincerely, Trying to be a smarter agent

Dear Smarter Agent,

As the web is the great equalizer, most companies have launched a multitude of marketing pages, resulting in a deluge of pitches, promises, and promotions. As if that weren’t enough, business messages have infiltrated social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and are now competing with recreational favorites such as video, music, and chatting.

With a growing flood of messages rushing at customers, how are they handling it? Well, if you buy into the rationale that we all have more to do in less available time, prospective customers are drowning in information. Additionally, the current economic climate has decreased the number of purchase decisions being made, giving prospective customers fewer reasons to take notice.

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The amount of noise in the marketplace has increased drastically. Consequently, your marketing messages must be razor sharp to cut through the noise and be compelling enough to immediately hook prospective customers.

Here are eight characteristics of good messages that get results. Incorporating these attributes into your messaging will help you get heard, be remembered and, most importantly, prompt customer action. Effective messaging that reaches out, grabs the intended audience, and draws them in typically contains a number of the following:

1. Targeted – Good messaging first identifies the audience you’re attempting to reach and answers the question, “What’s in it for them?” Once you define who the audience is, state the value they can expect from your service in terms they can relate to and understand. Keep in mind that your message may have to be restated for different audiences. Don’t assume that your audiences understand the value they’ll receive — make it clear by specifically targeting your messages for each one.

2. Simple and brief – With today’s onslaught of messages aimed at your target audiences, there is limited capacity for customers to remember who you are and the value you can provide. Some experts contend that humans can typically remember phrases containing up to about seven words. Beyond that, most memories are challenged. There are numerous taglines and sound bites that have been able to effectively convey a key message with a minimum of words. The California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” and IBM’s “e-Business” are great examples of how keeping it short makes it stick.

3. Compelling, bold – Making a bold statement gets your audiences’ attention and allows you to stand out from the crowd. A good example is Ford’s 1980s message, “Quality is Job 1.” At the time Ford was trying to overcome some hits to its image it had taken for quality problems. The message was extremely successful and went on to become a household slogan.

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4. Credible – Provide real evidence that your offering has a true advantage and delivers value. Beer manufacturers have been telling us for years about their “cold filtering,” “3 step brewing processes,” and “mountain spring water” as proof of their great taste. There’s no better way to build credibility than by placing your unique advantage right in the main message. Give your audience a reason to believe your service will truly deliver value.

5. Memorable – Send a message that they can’t get out of their heads. Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” and Sun Microsystems’ “Sun is the dot in .com” come to mind as incredibly memorable messages.

6. Highlights what’s important – In addition to keeping each message brief, the number of key messages should be kept to a minimum. Beyond three key messages on a web page, or on any other marketing vehicle for that matter, it becomes difficult for readers to take away your story. Make sure the messages are contained in the title, headings, and subheadings. Often this is all the reader will have time to read. Don’t believe that just because you have compelling messages in the body of your pages that everyone will take the time to read it.

7. Ubiquitous – Make sure your key messages are everywhere and repeat them frequently — in the title, the headings, the bullets, and the main text. Research has shown that the average person needs to see a message 7-10 times before they are comfortable making a purchase decision. You may wish to state it a little differently each time, but be sure prospective customers walk away with what’s important — the value to them. In addition to your web pages, the same messages should appear in all of your marketing materials, including presentations, web and print ads, and videos.

8. Communicates advantages – Placing your key competitive advantages right in your main message leaves no doubt that you’re offering something better. Arm and Hammer’s new Teeth Whitening Booster Toothpaste’s key message contained on its packaging and web site takes this approach:

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“Easier, Faster and 2x More Whitening Agent than leading whitening strips.” The advantages against the unnamed (but presumed) leaders are clearly stated, leaving no doubt to the product’s strengths.

Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.



  1. Robert Quigley

    June 24, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Good tips for cutting through the clutter, regardless of industry.

  2. Lani Rosales

    June 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Ginny, I find even veterans to this space failing to do 90% of your list above. This is a great reminder for them and a GREAT playbook for those just getting started in the space.

  3. Lori L

    June 24, 2009 at 2:10 pm


  4. Benn/Ag

    June 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    With more and more personal brands popping up, this is such a value post- powerful stuff.

  5. Ian Greenleigh

    June 24, 2009 at 5:51 pm


    Mobile/SMS marketing is another great way to “cut through the noise.” Numbers are being released every day that show view & response rates bearing this out. These ad media can create a more personalized interaction and reach those that other media cannot.

    My company has applied both technologies to the real estate space within a single platform. RE agents are in a perfect position for early adoption of small-scale mobile marketing, and the future is exciting.

  6. Melody Beaudro

    June 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    What is this about? It’s about Real Estate! It’s about waking up for The Moment, for those that are looking for a place to “transplant” themselves….try Florence, Oregon. Come. Be a part of an evolving community along the eternally beautiful Oregon coast.

    May I introduce myself? At your Service! What do you need? To find another location to live? A pleasant atmosphere?

    Please allow me to help. (copy & paste in an email)

    Here we are in this moment! Hey!

    Take a look around you…are you aware of the beauty that you have worked so hard to acquire? or, perhaps you are just a beginner at experiencing the world…

    …the mere fact that we have eyes to view, and ears to hear is truly Miraculous…Right now, please take the time to look up from your machinery…do you feel better for this? I hope so.

  7. Mark Jacobs

    June 26, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Great list, I have been using the web and e-mail to attract buyers and sellers and with a good, direct message it works…

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