Sweet Henry

Strategic Marketing Tips Gleaned from Puppy Training: Tip 3, Messaging and Tone

by Heather Hughes on October 18, 2012

Hey there puppy fans, this is my final post of strategic marketing tips gleaned from puppy training. Previous posts discussed the importance of positioning and knowing your audience. Here I focus on messaging and tone.

Tip 3. Messaging and Tone


Those of us who’ve protected our favorite pair of shoes from a new puppy know that saying “no” to everything verboten is not as effective as using a variety of words like “leave it”, “off” or, my favorite, “nose out”.  Likewise, it’s incredibly important for marketers to speak to customers in specific language that resonates. That’s language that the customer uses, which is usually neither generic speak nor jargon and acronyms. Two extremes exist here: first, being so general as to say nothing at all; second, being so technical as to sound like a machine robotically spewing why your speeds and feeds are so great.

The best way to craft messaging is to find out what the customer thinks, first-hand, about your product or service. How did they select your particular service? What do they like most and least? Would they recommend it to a colleague and if so why? If not, why not? These are just a few necessary questions to truly understand one’s customers. They may seem pretty basic, but some marketers skip this step and dive right into crafting messaging based on what they learn secondhand, either from secondary research or internal sources.

When you really listen to what your customers and prospects say and how they say it, you’re better prepared to craft messaging that appeals to their mindset. Messaging resonates because it is reflective of customers’ real-world experiences and includes their own language – which may or may not be the language of the researcher or product development team.

Customers have always been at the root of great campaigns. Remember the man in the Hathaway shirt? Yes, David Ogilvy always put the customer first! (I am sure David Ogilvy launched more than a thousand careers, including mine which I talk about here.)


When you talk with your customer, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Tone is critical. Here we venture into brand personality. So what kind of person are you? Are you friendly, kind and interested? Are you bold, innovative and direct? Your brand personality should be as unique as your brand benefit, and be reflective of it.

I’d like to close by saying that positioning, messaging and marketing strategy will only get you so far. Your brand’s personality, including language and look and feel, is critical to success. When great strategy meets great creative, you’ve won.

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