The Danger of Inconsistent Marketing Messages


Image by k8marieuk via Flickr

The idea for this post came to me as I was driving to work this morning. I heard a radio jingle for a local mall.

The jingle sung about how the mall had lots of shopping and lots of fun.   If you had ever been to this mall, you would most likely disagree with the claim in the jingle.  There are two reasons this is dangerous for the mall:

  1. If you have never been to the mall and are prompted to visit because of the marketing messaging, you may have false expectations.  The mall does not have lots of shopping nor a fun atmosphere.  You may walk away from the mall frustrated that the messaging was inconsistent with the service and experience.
  2. If you have been to the mall, you very likely will have established views which are contrary to the marketing messaging.  The marketing efforts will fall on deaf ears because of previous experience with the mall.

It is critical that your marketing messaging be consistent with your brand, products, service, and experience.  Anything short of this will only result in a waste of marketing dollars and negative impacts.  This is valid for any industry; government, post-secondary, commercial, etc.

For example, if you own an oil change place and your marketing message implies you can get an oil change in 10 minutes and a visitor experiences a 20 minute oil change the end result is a dissatisfied customer.  You got a one-time customer with the marketing message, but likely didn’t create a loyal customer.  In fact, your dissatisfied customer may become vocal against your company instead of for it.

How does this apply to post-secondary environments?  Let say your brand and marketing efforts imply that your campus is a friendly environment, but your front-line registration staff are bitter and grumpy.  How will that ultimately impact the effectiveness of your marketing?  Word will soon spread that your messaging doesn’t match your service and the marketing dollars you spent to draw people in will in fact turn people away.

Granted, this PSE example is to the extreme, but I strongly feel that our marketing efforts need to be in harmony with our service and products.  Before marketers launch campaigns, it’s important that a reality-check be done to ensure that the messaging is consistent with the brand, products, service, etc.