Can Marketing Content Be Helpful?

PinnochioThis morning a client made a common copy request:  “We need to change the phrase ‘we work on all devices’ to instead say ‘we work on almost all devices.'”

Does “we work on almost all devices” tell the truth? Yes.
Is it a sentence we should include on a marketing website? No.

Liar Liar, Pants on Fire

If there’s one thing I hate about marketing, it’s lying. I came to content strategy in order to create useful, valuable, helpful content. I want to clarify the unclear, and to help connect the products people need to the people who need them. Sales speak, double talk, outright lies, they’re not my style.

With that in mind, I agree with every client who has ever said “we can’t use the phrase ‘we work on all devices,’ because we don’t – we work on most devices, but we can’t promise that we’ll work on every single phone and tablet.”

The question I immediately ask is this: “Is it helpful for the customer to know that we work on almost all devices?”

The goal? To create not only accurate marketing content, but helpful marketing content.

Helpful Marketing Content

I often consider what my mother, a very intelligent but not very tech savvy person, would think if she saw certain copy on a page. Would the content help her more easily and confidently choose the product she wants? Or will it merely confuse her and result in yet another phone call where she says “I just don’t understand these web things the way you do.”

Let’s apply the Mom test to the sentence “our software works on almost all devices.” Mom is most likely going to call and say to me:

  1. What if the software doesn’t work on my phone?
  2. What’s wrong with their software, and why doesn’t it always work?
  3. What other software can I use – I want one that always works.
  4. All of the above.

It’s no use trying to explain to Mom that there will always be some out of date Blackberry somewhere that isn’t compatible with new software; the moment she read “almost” she started considering what else might be wrong.

What would be more helpful to Mom would be information about what this new software can do. Then she can decide whether those features are beneficial to her, without being distracted by unnecessary fears. The copywriter for the company might help my mom by telling her true facts:

  • The software is compatible with Android and iPhone, as well as laptop and desktop computers.
  • Some of the use cases for our software.
  • The type of person who is mostly likely to find the software beneficial.
  • Ways that the software has benefited customers.

My mom can read that information and make an educated decision: is she the type of person this software is intended for? Are her use cases similar? Are the benefits in line with her goals?

Choosing the Conversation

I wrote a few weeks ago about the benefits of picking and choosing conversations. The same is true when it comes to what you discuss on your website or in your marketing content. Pick and choose what prospective customers need to know by asking “what will help them to find the product they need?”

True fact.

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