Is your marketing an easy sell or a case of the Great White hope?

Eighty per cent of what you do in business should be an easy sell to the customer, a former boss of mine once told me. Just 20 per cent should be a harder sell. It’s an interesting way to look at marketing.

Ruth Mortimer

The difficult marketing campaigns often require customers to rethink their image of your brand. If Marketing Week began producing textbooks on marketing, there’s a fair chance these could succeed, but Marketing Week lingerie is probably a non-starter.

Several recent campaigns fall into the 20 per cent of harder sell messages by trying to change how customers think of their brands. Kingsmill has launched the ‘Great White’, a white bread loaf that claims to have as much fibre as its wholemeal competitors.

Mark Ritson argues that despite the innovation credentials of the new product, it may be a difficult sell to customers as it requires a shift in thinking about nutrition. “Attitude change is a precarious pursuit,” warns Ritson.

Subway is promoting healthier products in its portfolio such as avocado sandwiches. This follows moves by McDonald’s to offer fruit in Happy Meals and Burger King’s lower fat fries. But will consumers accept that these fast-food brands offer healthier options?

A definite hard sell is Ryanair’s attempts to chase business travellers. For a company that until recently disowned the concept of customer service, the move into the professional end of the market will need consumers to rethink their opinion of the brand.

An easier sell is to offer customers something they value. Among the most important things for Marketing Week’s audience must be knowledge and inspiration – after all, that’s the lifeblood of marketing itself.

So with that in mind, Marketing Week is partnering with this year’s Advertising Week Europe at Bafta in London, to bring you great live content.

I am hosting our session ‘CMO 3.0’ about the changing role of the chief marketer at 2pm on Thursday 3 April, with some fantastic guests: Pernod Ricard’s CMO Martin Riley, Britvic CMO Matthew Barwell, William Hill CMO Kristof Fahy and RSA CMO Peter Markey. We are also running a session on essential marketing skills, hosted by my colleague Branwell Johnson, at 10:30am on the same day.

It will never be 100 per cent easy to market your brand and no one has all the answers. But understanding whether your message falls into the hard or easy sell category can ultimately help you frame what counts as success.

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