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Clarity: The new marketing secret?

My new book got a nice review in the Miami Herald the other day, and I am proud of that. But I am even happier about what it said: “I also liked how Moran, an engineer and former IBM product manager, simplifies things to the point where the least Web-savvy among us can readily comprehend most of his ideas, though more experienced readers will not feel slighted or condescended to, either.” I had to work hard to be that clear. You should, too.


Clarity has not traditionally been a quality marketing copy is known for. Marketers are regarded in popular circles as flim-flam artists wearing better suits. Lawyers may have invented “fine print” but marketers have fallen in love with it. It’s marketers that make an offer in a loud voice and then have the announcer talk at breakneck speed in a stacatto whisper for the last ten seconds of the radio commercial.
But your customers aren’t paying attention to that kind of marketing anymore.
Marketers are best advised to come clean—to embrace clarity in their messages. Your customers are becoming just as savvy about marketing as you are—especially your Internet customers. They’re well-educated and they want to buy from people whom they trust and whose values they share.
They might not understand what the breathless announcer is chanting at the end of your ad, and they don’t necessarily know what the fine print means about what happens if they break the contract, but they know this: They don’t trust you.
Why is Verizon suddenly coming out in favor of open phones? Because the pressure is growing, from consumers, from the government, and from Google. Verizon is being smart—they are aiming for more clarity while their competitors are sticking with the old doubletalk.
If Verizon can take steps toward clarity in the byzantine cellular phone business, you can do it in your business. More and more, your customers are expecting your offers to be clear and understandable. If you don’t do it, you are just waiting for your competitors to do it. Think they are busy at Sprint and AT&T today?

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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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