“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting until you say and do things imaginatively, originally, freshly.” – Bill Bernbach
Over the past couple of weeks, in both my personal and business life, it just seems like everywhere I turn, I’m seeing the most uninspired, blah, boring, and unenthused advertising and marketing messaging. From credit unions to food products to retail delivered through TV, direct mail, outdoor, one-sheets/brochures, whatever. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s as though A LOT of people got the same memo: create only lifeless, sigh-inducing marketing that doesn’t say anything. As a result, I recall something that the comedian Billy Connelly once said about people who create this kind of stuff. He called them “Beigests” – as in the color beige.
For the purposes of painting a picture of who a “Beigest” is, let’s describe them as constantly striving to turn everything around him or her lukewarm and mediocre. The kind of person who’ll suck the life out of all meaningful messaging, attempt to censor or dilute anything that they don’t get (forget that their audience does get it), water down any sort of strong rationale with weasel words & steer it towards the middle, and constantly strive for “consensus” as they make the world “user friendly” (i.e., rather than make an executive decision, they ask everyone for their opinion. I sometimes wonder if people making the advertising or marketing decisions are genetically incapable of recognizing messaging that stands out, that they simply default to that never vibrant but never offensive color beige.
Let me ask: who loves the color beige? Not many people will respond saying that beige is one of their favorites. But it’s a color, right? So why aren’t more people expressing their love for it…like they do for reds, blues, purples, or whatever your favorite color is. Because beige is insanely boring! It totally lacks enthusiasm which makes the marketing messaging as dull as an accountant’s office.
Our lives are way too busy for us to be attracted to “beige” things. Yet, too many marketers don’t project that same line of thinking toward attracting customers. Decisions are made daily to keep producing and running the same run-of-the-mill, uninspiring stuff…week after week, month after month, year after year.
Keep in mind that when you as a consumer see anything from a company, either your opinion of that company is enhanced or it’s not. There’s no middle ground. You either like them a bit more or you go in the other direction. So, if that’s the case, why do too many marketers turn that compelling, money-making value proposition into a beige “me-too” that each and every one of your competitors could say. Why do you think for one second that someone is going to acknowledge your message? And not only acknowledge it, but take the time to respond, and make a purchase.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been bored into buying something. And I’m even going to say that 99% of your customers are with me on this. The marketing you do for your company is an extension of you. You’re the person who’s responsible for communicating the passion of your company. When you talk about your business with others, hopefully your eyes twinkle, your heart begins to race, your voice becomes more dynamic and people are instantly attracted to you. When that show of enthusiasm and excitement happens, no one would confuse you with being boring, right? Of course not. So look at your marketing stuff and see if it reflects that same level of specialness. Or you could always ask friends, colleagues, suppliers or anyone who will be candid with you, “Does this marketing make you want to pick up the phone and call us or know more about us?” If the answer is not an enthusiastic “yes,” then it’s time to start over. Because spending money that can’t produce results never makes CEOs happy. They’re eventually going to see what you produced for the market.
Save your company from being seen as beige. Be a welcomed splash of red. And listen, not only is it possible for you to create a business that is as fascinating as you are, it is necessary. Life’s too short to settle for “blah.”