Can Your Marketing Pass This Test?

Go to your Web site. Print out your home page. Now, take a pen and cross out every mention of your company’s name, products, or services. After you’re finished, substitute the name of one of your competitors instead.

Now, reread the whole page. Does it still make sense?

If it does, your marketing isn’t as effective as it could be. Generic marketing isn’t effective (it’s broken). It won’t lead anyone to choose your product or service over your competitors’.

Saying that you offer “high quality” or “fast response” or “creative design” isn’t enough. You have to differentiate yourself in some way.


Blockbuster is failing, but there are video stores specializing in horror movies or Japanese anime that are thriving. Netflix succeeds by not only stocking movies that Blockbuster never heard of, but by emphasizing local favorites. They also create lists of movies they think you’ll like based on past picks and preferences (for me, they’re currently recommending cerebral TV shows, dark political movies based on real life, and suspenseful crime dramas).

A dry cleaner is a dry cleaner, but a green dry cleaner or one that picks up early in the morning and delivers late at night is different.

A trade show exhibit designer is generic, but one that produces exhibits that can be set up and broken down in 10 minutes is worth remembering (and talking about).

Go, test your site now. Let me know what you found.

Photo: ccarlstead

The One-Minute Marketing Test

Here’s a quick way to see if your marketing is effective.

Go to your web site home page. Or, even better, check a landing page. If you prefer, pick up a brochure, leave-behind, or any other marketing material you have handy.

Read the first paragraph.

Start counting

See how many times it says, “me”, “I”, or “we”. Then, count how often it says, “you” or “your”. The “you’s” and “yours” should greatly outnumber the “we’s”. If they don’t you’re focusing too much on yourself and not enough on your customers.

Check your competition

Now, go to a competitor’s Web site. Read the first paragraph. Can you plug yours in? Are they significantly different? Does your site say anything special about you? Or, does it use language like “leading edge technology company” or “fostering health education and education activities for Southern Michigan since 1996”? Is the wording interchangeable? Is it clear from the first sentence exactly what your company or organization does?

Now, go back and rewrite the paragraph. Read it out loud. Better yet, read it to someone else (preferably someone who doesn’t work for you). See how much better that sounds?