Al Ries published a great article in AdAge yesterday talking how a perfectly good message and value proposition can be ruined by too much “tinkering”.  The essence of his point is that when companies have a great message that’s working, there is always pressure to abandon that for something that sounds fresher.  He says:

Common sense says that marketing messages have to constantly change in order to stay in tune with the times.

Marketing sense says that’s nonsense. The way to build a brand is with a consistent message over an extended period of time.

….They tinker with new ideas when they should be hammering the ideas that already exist in consumers’ minds. Once a brand is established with a clearly defined marketing position, the brand’s owner should ask a fundamental question before making any significant changes.

Why tinker with success?

I see this a lot.  There is an almost irresistible urge to change the core messaging as often as we roll out new campaigns.   The reality is that often we are changing course just when the message is starting to resonate with the market and we lose the momentum we just started to build.

Why do we do it?  Because we get bored.  Because we have seen it so many times it’s hard for us to believe that the entire world hasn’t seen it (even when our budgets are microscopic, interestingly enough).

The reality is that we aren’t getting our messages in front of customers as much as we think we are (particularly when we are talking about small companies with limited budgets) and even if we were, if it’s resonating, why would we want to mess with it?

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