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Red Paint

What is marketing?

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that Marketing is the transitive form of Market, which as we all know is a place where things are sold.

Marketing is selling. Hold that thought.

When I sit down to write a feature on broker marketing I normally try to think of an analogy that will bring it to life and, hopefully get my point across. This approach has taken my readers into the world of superheroes and, once, the categorisation of customers into cats and dogs.

But today I’m sidestepping analogies because I want to talk about the “Red Paint” test and analogies don’t sit very well with this particular marketing test. What is the Red Paint test? Thought up by a fellow Director, it is the perfect example of an effective marketing message – it’s Red and its Paint, what more do you need to know? We frequently use it to measure our own marketing output. You would do well to consider it too.

It’s easy to confuse scruffy mammals wearing cravats or fat opera singers in coffee shops as marketing but it’s not the full story. Customers are exposed to mammalian manors and celebrity dragons trolleying around supermarkets all the time. They frequently entertain but never underestimate the audience. They still know they’re being sold something.

Remember: marketing is selling.

Many more of us think of marketing in terms of how marketing messages are sent: e-mails, leaflets, posters, websites etc. These are important considerations of course, but the really important aspect, so often overlooked is, the actual marketing message. You need to be clear about what you want to convey to get it right. If your marketing messages pass the Red Paint test your customers will understand them. Better understanding equals more sales. Failing the Red Paint test only creates confusion.

So how can you find the clarity needed to pass the Red Paint test?

Well, don’t start in the wrong place. I’ll expand on that by using a practical example: websites. Websites are without doubt one of the more confused areas of a broker’s marketing portfolio. The considerations brokers tell us they think about:

  • What is the site’s purpose?
  • How many pages should there be?
  • What products should be covered?
  • What colours and images should be used?

All undoubtedly practical issues that need to be addressed but it’s not the right place to start. Websites shouldn’t begin life until the following questions are answered:

What are the marketing messages you want to get across?

What needs to be incorporated so visitors can find out what they need to know?

Consider your own website for a minute. Before you built it did you ask yourself what makes you stand out from others? Or what your qualities were and why they were going to make a difference to your prospects and customers? Maybe you did. Lets say you condensed your qualities down to three things:

  • You’re independent – working for the client
  • You’re experienced – insurance professionals understanding your clients’ needs
  • You’re approachable – no call centres, no cold menu systems

If you believe these are your qualities they should form the platform for your marketing messages, which in this example is the content of your website.

Now you need to look at life from a visitor’s perspective

What do they want from a website?

Essentially they want clarity and easy access to information that is relevant and concise.

Websites have no room for padding so get brutal. Do visitors really get any value out the Director’s CV or discovering you made an acquisition in 1997? Also be realistic, visitors rarely re-visit a site to check on your latest news. Honestly now, is that page going to reinforce your values or encourage site visitors to buy from you? If pages on your site don’t support your values of independence, experience and approachability why are they there?

Finally, have you made it clear what you want the visitor to do next? Do you want to speak to them? Encourage them to call you and make it easy for them – call back buttons or booking a call facilities might help – as will making sure your telephone number is on every page and not just the contact page.

Which brings us to design. Don’t let the design distract visitors from your marketing message. Animated cars with audio blazing across your motor product page, might be interesting the first time you see it, but it’s the equivalent of sitting in front of a client with a twirling bowtie – amusing for a bit.

Why not apply the Red Paint test today because, remember, your website is marketing and as we know: marketing is selling.

This article was written by Mike Millard, one of our Directors, and originally appeared in Insurance People in 2010.