When You Emphasize Everything, You Emphasize Nothing

This is a post about design. But it could just as easily be a post about copywriting, or pricing and offers, or marketing strategy on the whole. Because the concept is the same no matter what we talk about.


But to really hone in on the message, let’s use an example. Let’s say that you are responsible for marketing at a company that sells doggie treats. Your boss/CEO/manager puts you in charge of a new campaign to launch the latest line of doggie treats.

“There’s a lot riding on this,” she says. “But I’m confident you can get the job done.”

You are working with your web team and your email team and your social team (or maybe that’s all one person, and maybe it’s you) to put together the initial announcements and offers, and to create the landing page on the site that you will drive interested dog owners to.

Your web designer might ask, “What is the most important element of this page?”

Several things enter your mind, and you start saying them aloud:

  • The name of the product
  • The special introductory offer
  • The “buy” button
  • The main product image
  • Our 5 star rating on Facebook

Notice the look of panic (or disgust) on your web designer’s face. She asked you what the most important element of the page is and you have already listed five different elements of the page.

And that’s the point – when you are creating a web page, or an email, or an ad, or anything else, everything can’t be the most important thing. We have to put the emphasis on one, maybe two things, and let the designers and copywriters do what they do best to highlight those things.

In your mind, you might say, “Well, those are all important.” What you mean is that they are all important to you. Or that you don’t know which ones are more important than the others.

But if everything is important, you end up emphasizing nothing. And then the prospective customer doesn’t know where to look or what to read.

By highlighting what’s important, you guide their thinking, and shuttle them through the purchase funnel.

To get into this new mindset, it helps to pay attention to how other companies emphasize certain things. Look at websites, and billboards, and marketing emails and ask yourself, “what is the most important thing here that the designer/marketer wants me to see?” The answer should be clear. It should jump out at you.

Then ask the same question of your own stuff. Do you notice a difference? How well are you guiding consumers toward those points of emphasis?

Better Promotional Offers: A 3-Step Guide


Specials, discounts, and promotions are a marketer’s best friend. They are used because they work. They drive people to your products and services and increase the likelihood that they purchase.

But just because you have an offer available doesn’t mean the customers will come running. Even if your offer appears to be working, there are ways to make it better.

There is a science to this art – one that has been perfected over the years by many marketers smarter than both you and I.

If you want to create better, more effective promotional offers, here are three steps you can take.

Step 1: Create Urgency

No more forever deals. Forever deals aren’t special. While I think it’s great that I always get free shipping when I order from your website, that fact alone is not going to spur me to action. It may win business from competitors, but it’s not creating any great sense of urgency.

Instead, tie every promotion to a specific time period. When you introduce deadlines to your sales and special offers, you drive more business.

Consumers have a natural fear of missing out. A great offer with a deadline entices them to act now, before it’s too late.

Step 2: Add Variety

We all know the companies that utilize the same offers and sales month after month and year after year. Eventually, these become easy to ignore. And an offer that is easy to ignore is not one that is going to help your business.

To keep customers interested in your brand, use a variety of different offers. This month it might be free shipping. Next month it might be buy one, get one free. Come Christmas, it might be 25% off orders over $100.

While it may be true that some offers work better than others – meaning they bring in more sales – you still run the risk of diminishing returns over time if you continue to run the same offer over and over again.

Step 3: Promote

If you build it, they will come. The famous line from Field of Dreams may have been true for Kevin Costner, but it’s not true for companies today. If you have a special offer meant to boost sales, you need to make sure people know about it.

You can promote your special offers through all the major channels that you use to advertise your business – from traditional avenues like TV, radio, and outdoor, to online channels like social media, search, and display ads. Also consider all the opportunities you have to promote your offers to existing customers – email, phone, direct mail, etc.

When you let people know about your offers, you drive the traffic necessary to achieve success.

In conclusion, the companies that make the most out of special offers are constantly working to improve their effectiveness. By taking the three steps discussed above, you will drive an increase in sales for your business.

Is Your Value Proposition Unique?

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We don’t call it the Unique Value Proposition for nothing. It’s got three elements:

  1. Unique
  2. Value
  3. Proposition

If your value proposition is not unique, it means that you are offering the same value as your competitors. And that means your customers could just as easily buy from them. That’s a problem.

What makes you unique?

  • Is it your price? Do you offer a lower price than your competitors?
  • Is it your service? Are you more hands-on with your customers?
  • Is it your location? Are you closer or more convenient?

Whatever it is that makes you unique, that needs to go into your value proposition. It is the thing that distinguishes you from all the other companies that your customers might go to instead.

If there is nothing unique about your company in relation to the competition, you don’t have a reason to exist. You can’t just do the same thing as someone else and think you deserve to grow and take market share from them. You have to be different to survive and succeed.

What should you do if you don’t have a unique value proposition?

The first thing you should do is be honest about that fact internally. Call together the decision makers and start talking about it. That’s the only way to move forward affectively.

Next, you should decide as a group what your strengths are relative to the other companies that you are competing with. Are you able to improve your product or service without adding any cost that would be shared by the consumer? Are you able to lower your prices (without starting a price war with your nearest competitor)? Are you able to make the buying process simpler for customers? Are you able to offer a higher level of service?

The key to creating a unique value proposition is to leverage your strengths. It needs to become a core piece of who you are, and exist as a part of your overall strategy. It’s not easy to be the price leader or the most convenient.

“But I Know My Company is the Best”

It’s true, you know your company better than anyone else. And that means you know your company better than your prospective customers.

But that’s not always a good thing, because it can be a blinder. It can cause you to miss critical issues because you’re not seeing your brand the way they are.

The best way to determine why people buy from you (in a sense, what makes you unique) is to ask them. Surveys and focus groups can help you uncover a unique value proposition that you didn’t even know you had.

Always Be Selling

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As a marketer, it can be easy to focus only on those assets we typically think of as marketing assets. These include all of the emails, advertisements, promotional materials, and web pages that prospective customers might see on their journey down the marketing funnel. And no one would blame you for ignoring everything else that falls outside of this process. There are only so many hours in the day.

But what happens if we broaden our horizons a bit?

The Role of a Marketer

The role of the marketer has broadened in recent years. While many people within the marketing community do still specialize, the marketing team as a whole has to look beyond the typical marketing funnel. Our role is still to find and convert new customers. But it is also to increase loyalty, grow brand recognition, and improve the overall user experience in order to grow revenue and profitability.

For that reason, we must always be selling.

Always Be Selling

When I say “always be selling”, most people likely roll their eyes. Sound scammy?

Not quite. I don’t think that everyone should become the huckster, used car salesman, always discounting, doing whatever it takes to get the sale. Instead, what I mean is that we have to be on the lookout for all of the hidden opportunities to market to people.

An Example:

When someone purchases from your company, they likely receive an email confirmation. In most companies, these email is rather dull and generic. That’s because it does not come from marketing. But why not? This is a customer touchpoint – a chance to delight and increase loyalty and recurrence.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of these types of opportunities out there. Marketing messages must permeate throughout the global experience between your customers and your brand.

An “always selling” mentality will mean that you are cashing in on every opportunity you have to improve the experience of your customers. Your brand will become more engaging and you will grow your company.

How to Use Quora for Marketing


Are you familiar with Quora? Quora.com is a Q&A site where anyone with an account can post questions or answer other user’s questions. Users rate the answers to public questions so that the best answers rise to the top.

For non-users, these answers often surface in search results for specific questions that have been asked on the platform.

The site has been around since 2010 and though it does not get the kind of buzz a lot of other platforms tend to attract, it continues to grow in popularity. And despite not being widely discussed in marketing circles, there are a number of benefits to incorporating Quora into a larger online strategy.


Quora can be included in a larger content marketing strategy in a number of ways. First, Quora questions are a great source of content ideas. Find out what people are interested in learning more about by reviewing popular questions related to your industry, and create content around those subject.

Second, use Quora to share your content when someone has a question you have an answer to. It is common to post an answer and include a link to learn more or go further in depth on the subject. Doing this regularly establishes your own or your brand’s expertise in the subject area.


Sometimes, people may be asking questions more specific to the kinds of products or services you offer. This is a great opportunity to open up a direct channel of communication between your company and the marketplace. By answering questions in a helpful way, you can send potential customers through to your company’s website.


Just this year, Quora opened up their advertising platform to all businesses. Your company can target ads to people using Quora, based on the type of content they are looking for. This is a great opportunity to get in front of potential customers during the research phase of their journey.