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Maximum strength

I used a deodorant today (no, that isn’t newsworthy) and noticed that it said that it is “Maximum Strength.” I am not sure, but I think this product has also been called “improved” previously. It made me wonder, if it was already maximum strength, how can it be improved? Do people really listen to these claims anymore, or has the Web started to make us more discriminating consumers of all products?


It’s not news that the Web has changed the way we make product claims and write copy. The breathless claims that punctuate TV and print advertising, or even direct marketing pieces, don’t resonate with Web audiences. Instead of hype, people want facts. One person I interviewed for my new book said the traditional advice of “sell the benefits, not the features” is exactly the opposite of what you need to do on the Web.
So what becomes of all the products that are already at “maximum strength”? What can you say about a product when you have already used all the superlatives that you can? How do you move from hype to facts without making it seem like your product suddenly got worse?
I think the answer lies in specifics. The problem is not really the superlatives, such as “maximum strength,” it’s in what they mean. After all, that deodorant manufacturer doesn’t have a “minimum strength” version. The problem is that these words are empty. Every manufacturer can say that their deodorant is “maximum strength” if it just means that it’s the strongest protection they know how to make.
On the other hand, what kinds of problems can you solve with your deodorant. Of course, everyone can claim they stop odor and wetness (that’s the way these folks seem to talk), but does anyone want a deodorant that doesn’t leave streaks on their clothes? Or one that doesn’t irritate tender skin? Or one that isn’t noticeable when you are wearing a bathing suit?
Maybe these benefits are obvious, but I rarely see them discussed. The advertising for most deodorants sounds the same—you could use the same ads for several of the products. Men’s deodorants are “tough” on perspiration (they never talk about sweat) and women’s offer protection but gently. Sheesh!
Is your advertising all “maximum strength” with no unique benefits? Is it all vague claims with no specifics? Is it all sizzle and no steak? Think about what your customers really want to know and tell them. Think about what problems you can solve and explain how. Maybe it won’t change your TV advertising, but the Web is the perfect place to have longer, more specific product claims. Are you taking advantage of this free way to differentiate your wares?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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