One thing I realized during my 9-5 career is that the things you don’t say can oftentimes be way more powerful than the things you do say. I remember telling my boss, the VP of Sales, a story about a how another VP of Sales in a past job took a huge account that I had landed away from me and transferred it to a senior rep because he felt I couldn’t handle it. I told this story as a way to prove that I was capable of bringing in big accounts. But as I told it, I realized that what I was really doing by telling the story was instilling doubt in his mind of my abilities to effectively manage a large account. If another person in his position had made that call, then maybe there was some validity to it.
I vividly remember sitting there after having spilled the beans, immediately regretting it; realizing that although I was trying to make myself look capable it really did quite the opposite… It was a valuable lesson and I learned to be a lot more mindful about what I say – and don’t say! And that is a skill that is definitely useful in developing marketing communications….
Now cut to yesterday…. I stole a couple of lazy hours on a Saturday afternoon to watch some mindless TV. And on comes a Nutella commercial. I rarely watch commercials these days, but as a marketer when I do, I pay attention. In this particular Nutella commercialI noticed how they positioned the product as a fun, easy, and healthy choice. I didn’t quite buy the “healthy” claim so I went to my laptop to look up their ingredients. Guess what??? No so healthy…! But it got me thinking again about Marketing and Advertising and clever big corporations are with their messaging – like politicians, they are great at focusing on the good and ignoring the “bad”. So I thought I’d point out what Nutella did in their commercials to help small business owners know what to say – and NOT say!
Here are some lines from their commercial that I thought were interesting uses of marketing messaging. I also included lessons that all small businesses can learn from them.
“Serve it on whole wheat toast or even whole wheat waffles.” – I love this line. Without saying the product is healthy, it leads you to believe it’s healthy simply by associating it with something that is healthy! Using this strategy, you can slap 20 tablespoons of sugar on whole wheat bread and voila! It’s healthy! Lesson: In your business, what can you associate your product or service with to make it more appealing to consumers?
“My kids love it and I feel good about serving it.” - Translation: I don’t have to force my kids to eat healthy stuff they hate- yet, it’s healthy enough that I don’t have to feel guilty about feeding them junk. Lesson: What emotional affect does your product or service have on consumers and how can you make them feel good about using it?
“Nutella is made with Simple, Quality ingredients; like hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa” –How can you go wrong with nuts and skim milk and just a ‘hint’ of cocoa??? Sounds so nutritious and wholesome and good, doesn’t it? What they don’t say is that the first ingredient is sugar and the second is palm oil (which is proven to increase bad cholesterol). Lesson: How are you showcasing your best qualities (and down-playing your not-so-great qualities)?
“No artificial colors or preservatives” – What they don’t tell you is there are artificial flavors, but because they say “no artificial colors or preservatives” you forget to ask about artificial “anything” and assume it’s “artificial”/junk free! Lesson: As small business owners we sometimes feel the need to apologize for the little things we don’t do- or the services we don’t provide… but instead of apologizing for what you don’t offer, focus on what you DO – and more often than not, people won’t even notice what you don’t do!
I’m not writing this to pick on Nutella or to tell you shouldn’t smother it all over your whole wheat toast for breakfast. I wrote it to use a real world example of how an effective marketing strategy and careful marketing messaging can transform your product or service. Happy Marketing !
(And one more thing, can you really call it a Hazelnut spread if hazelnuts are only the THIRD ingredient? Wouldn’t it be a sugar spread?” – I guess it’s all about packaging!)
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!! Leave your comments here.
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