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ClickInsights: How to Make Marketing Messages Memorable

Think quickly. Which marketing slogan or jingle can you hear in your ear?

Think quickly. Which marketing slogan or jingle can you hear in your ear? Which marketing logo or picture appears before your mind's eye? Why do we remember only some marketing messages over others? What are characteristics of a memorable marketing message? Here is an interview about with Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others DieMaking B2B Marketing Messages More Memorable.

We have invited B2B Experts to shed light on the following question: "What can B2B marketers do to make marketing messages more memorable? Define one or more (no more than 3) characteristics of a memorable marketing message. Optionally, also give an example of a great B2B marketing message (slogan, picture, video etc) which has captivated you?".  Read on to get their insights.

Recommended Resources from B2B Marketing Experts



  1. Ardath Albee's book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale
  2. Charlene Li's and Josh Barnoff's book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
  3. Laura Patterson's book Marketing Metrics in Action
  4. Hugh MacLeod's Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
  5. Cashing in With Content (a classic by David Meerman Scott)
  6. Get Content. Get Customers. By Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett
  7. Brian Carroll's book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale
  8. Kristina Halvorson's Content Strategy for the Web



Ardath Albee

Blog Marketing Interactions Twitter Ardath421

Ardath Albee Content Marketing ExpertProvide a Takeaway that is Conceptual, Conversational & Convertible

Ardath Albee's Bio

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist. Her company Marketing Interactions helps companies with complex sales and quantify marketing effectiveness by using interactive e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She empowers her clients to create customer-centric nurturing programs that leverage strategic story development to engage prospects until they are sales ready. Ardath’s book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is now shipping!

Ardath Albee's Tip

B2B marketing messages need to leave a lasting impression. What your prospects walk away with, the ideas your message helps them ingest, chew on and discuss with colleagues are the takeaway from your messaging. Even if your prospect doesn’t choose to act upon your call to action, the takeaway should provide recognizable value. As the impressions from takeaways build, your credibility will grow and active engagement will follow.

A valuable takeaway is:

  • Conceptual – produces an idea your content helped generate that the prospect can own and develop in relation to a top priority.
  • Conversational – the idea is powerful enough that the prospect wants to discuss it with others involved in solving the problem your content is designed to address.
  • Convertible – applicable to their specific situation. They can see the idea in application to their circumstances.

The beauty of a takeaway is that it can be “owned” by the prospect, but attributable to your company. By simplifying the complexity of a situation in a way that promotes active thinking about solving it, your messaging helps prospects visualize successful outcomes and enroll others in embracing “their” ideas.

The point is that every single interaction you have with a prospect is an opportunity to provide a takeaway they value. Just ensuring your logo or company name is in front of them doesn’t create engagement. By helping prospects generate ideas that get them thinking about the possibilities of eliminating obstacles hindering successful outcomes, your company can become the anchor they rely upon to help them do just that when the time comes.

The next time you think an email message or content description is just a call to action, think again. Define the value your prospect will receive—even if they don’t click through. If all they’ll gain is the knowledge that your product has yet another new feature, it’s time to rethink your messaging from your prospects’ perspectives. Give them a takeaway.

Ardath Albee Recommends

Rebel Brown

Blog Phoenix Rising Twitter RebelBrown

Rebel BrownBe relevant, be concise, be compelling

Rebel Brown's Bio

Rebel Brown is go-to-market strategist and Spin Doctor specializing in start ups, turnarounds and start-arounds in the high technology arena. She has helped to define, position and launch over 75 individual products and companies since she began consulting 20 years ago. Her clients who are technology vendors and venture firms leverage her strategic marketing and go-to-market expertise. She identifies and transforms differentiation - customers crown jewels - into compelling, customer-centric value that sells. Her blog is Phoenix Rising and her business is People Who Know.

Rebel Brown's Tip

To me, great messages attract buyer attention. That’s all they are focused on doing. They don’t explain or educate. They draw audiences in with their direct and quick hits. At least the memorable ones do. We want our key branding messages to be sticky, to catch the audience’s eye, draw them into our story. Then we can share more information.

I call these messages Pivot Points, focused on our market, our company and our offerings.  When I’m creating Pivot Point messages with clients, I focus on three key criteria.  The final messages must be relevant, concise and compelling.

Be relevant. People pay attention to things that are important to them. If we’re telling our audience about things that they don’t care about – we don’t get their attention. If we’re telling them about things that are important to us – we missed the point of marketing. Know your audience and be relevant. With every message, answer the most important marketing question. “So What?”

Be concise. One of the biggest mistakes we all make is using too many words to make our point. Less is more - especially in sales and marketing. Short and sweet is what attracts buyers. So get to the point, stay on point. When we wander off message into explanations or deep dives, we lose audience attention. 

Be compelling. There’s always more than one way to say anything. So pick the words that are most powerful. Active words are much better than passive words. Questions draw people in, especially when they’re right between the eyes. Quantitative, provable statements are enticing as well. Explaining how things work is boring to economic buyers. Think sizzle!

Rebel Brown Recommends

Mac McIntosh

Blog Sales Leads Insights Twitter B2B_Sales_Leads

Seamus WalshTalk directly to the target audience when creating lead generation campaigns and messages

Mac McIntosh's Bio

M. H. (Mac) McIntosh is considered to be one of North America’s top B2B marketing consultants and an expert the subject of using marketing to generate leads and drive sales. In addition to consulting, Mac conducts marketing workshops and seminars, writes regularly for leading marketing and business publications, is the publisher of Sales Lead Report, a newsletter with more than 15,000 subscribers, and Sales Lead Insights, his B2B marketing blog. He holds the Certified Business Communicator (CBC) designation awarded by the Business Marketing Association and was designated by BtoB magazine as one of its “Top 100 in BtoB Marketing.”

Mac McIntosh's Tip

Start by using the sticky ideas in Chip and Dan Heath’s thought provoking book, Made to Stick.

That’s exactly what one of my B2B sales lead consulting clients, GlobalSpec (an online media company serving the industrial marketplace) did. They created a very successful lead generation campaign using the theme of “Be a marketing Hero.”

Why was it memorable, and effective? Because it talked directly to the target audience, industrial marketers, using many of the sticky concepts the Heaths recommended in their book:

  1. It had strong emotional appeal. It was appealing to exactly the people they were trying to generate leads from: Industrial marketers. The same folks, who like the late Rodney Dangerfield, often feel they get no respect.
  2. It was simple. Marketers clearly understood the message (the benefit). They “got it” right away.
  3. It was concrete. The lead generation campaign including clear calls-to-action, such as Download the Marketing Hero's Toolkit.
  4. It was credible. The campaign was aimed at marketers who had already been receiving information from GlobalSpec, so they were familiar with the company and had previously experienced the quality of the marketing resources offered by GlobalSpec, so they had little doubt that the information offered would be useful.
  5. It told a story. The lead generation campaign materials used familiar super-hero comic book language like, “Fear no more, help is here” and it engaged the reader by addressing a real-world problem that marketers were (and still are) wrestling with: today’s challenging economy.
  6. It was unexpected. It was it a rare positive message in a time of doom and gloom for industrial marketers.

All B2B marketers should read Made to Stick, and give copies of the book to the people they rely on to help create or implement their lead generation campaigns, messages and offers. They should also list three concepts outlined in the book (i.e. emotional, simple, concrete, etc.) on a sticky-note, then stick it on the edge of their computer monitor as a reminder when they are developing lead generation campaigns, coming up with offers and calls-to-action or writing copy.

Mac McIntosh Recommends

Tom Pick

Blog WebMarketCentral Twitter TomPick

Seamus WalshKnow your audience, understand what keeps them awake at night, and use their language

Tom Pick's Bio

Tom Pick is an online marketing executive with KC Associates, a marketing and PR firm in Minneapolis , Minnesota , focused on b2b technology clients. He helps clients improve business results through search engine optimization (SEO), search marketing, interactive PR and social media programs. Tom also writes the award-winning WebMarketCentral blog, a blog about B2B lead generation, social media, interactive PR, SEO and search engine marketing.

Tom Pick's Tip

The keys to creating a memorable b2b marketing message are to know your audience, understand what keeps them awake at night, and use their language. That means, first and foremost, you need to be able to precisely define your audience; the language that will appeal to C-level executives is different than what will speak to the direct concerns of a departmental director, for example. An ideal message will speak directly to eliminating a pain your target prospects recognize, in words they would use. And of course, you have to be able to back up your promise. If, for example, your message is about reducing costs, you’ll need proof points that specifically identify which costs can be reduced, and what level of savings is reasonably achievable.

An example I like is from Kinetic Data. Their primary audience is IT service managers and internal help desk managers. Their tagline – Building a better service experience – may not mean a lot to you, but it resonates with their target prospects, who care about making IT easy to deal with for employees, and about keeping costs down. The company’s software empowers users to make IT service requests through self-service portals, while also streamlining the service delivery workflow on the back end. The marketing message is effective because it directly addresses a key concern (IT service quality) of their prospects.

Tom Pick Recommends

Howard Sewell

Blog Direct Connections Twitter HJSewell

Seamus Walsh Does you message get prospects and customers to respond?

Howard Sewell's Bio

Howard J. Sewell is president and founder of Connect Direct Inc. (CDI) a full-service marketing agency with offices in Silicon Valley and Seattle that specializes in demand generation and lead management for high-technology companies.

Howard Sewell's Tip

This is an interesting question because, frankly, I’m not sure I care whether our clients’ marketing messages are memorable or not.  As a dyed-in-the-wool direct marketer, all I care about is whether someone responds.  To my way of thinking, companies who go out of their way to make their messages memorable in a “Got Milk?” kind of way will most likely end up with pithy copy that fails to drive the desired action on the part of the reader.  Today’s social, digital, interactive world demands messages that drive people to engage, respond, and share.  Whether or not they remember the message 5 minutes later, I would argue, is secondary. 

When I was first cutting my teeth in marketing, an early mentor told me that good copy (and by extension, I would argue, an effective marketing message) needs to do three things, namely tell the reader:

  • What the offer is
  • Why he/she wants it
  • How to get it

It’s a philosophy that works well for subject lines, for landing pages, for headlines.  As an example, here’s an email I reviewed not long ago on our blog, developed (not by our firm) for Tableau Software.

Note that within just a few lines, you know what the offer is, what you’ll learn from it (in very specific, concrete, quantitative terms), and how to get it.  Is the message about “telling stories” particularly memorable?  Probably not.  But if the campaign succeeds, who cares?

Howard Sewell Recommends

Seamus Walsh

Blog B2BContentMarketing Twitter SeamusWalsh

Seamus WalshWriting has to be planted firmly in the terms of how readers are adopting change

Seamus Walsh's Bio

Seamus Walsh founded VAZT Global Inc. in January 2008. Seamus' passion for sales, sales process and excellence enabled him to develop a platform that "finds, cares and feeds" prospects until they are ready to buy. Prior to forming VAZT, Seamus worked in sales and strategic account management for The Hackett Group, a strategic advisory and management consulting firm in Atlanta, For Gartner, a research, advisory and consulting company in Stamford, CT and Cambridge Technology Partners, a web development company, prior to its acquisition by Novell. Seamus resides in Essex Junction, VT with his wife and four children.

Seamus Walsh's Tip

This question forces me to evaluate my writing. Am I rehashing a tired mantra or chasing to the next vernacular like a cluster of seagulls? Realistically, writing has to be planted firmly in the terms of how readers are adopting change.

I believe the best way to make our content memorable is to make it actionable.  On my reading list right now is Kristina Halvorson and Ann Rockley, they write in such a way that I get tidbits of very valuable information:  A new way of looking at an old problem,  an identification of a solution that I could not nail down, or a phrase that I may use as a part of common “industry accepted” nomenclature .

With technology and business architectures changing constantly, our value as writers is to tell a story in such a way that it makes sense to our readers and they can use tidbits to implement strategies and initiatives to achieve their goals.

Seamus Walsh Recommends

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More Stories By Ambal Balakrishnan

Ambal has robust 17+ years experience working at and partnering with high-profile technology companies in both B2B and B2C marketplaces building scalable, reliable, high performance products (both hardware and software) for business with multi-billion dollar in annual revenue. She has done various roles that includes engineering, program management, business development, strategy and marketing for premium and fast growing product divisions at Cisco, Telecordia (prior name Bell Labs) and strategic marketing consulting firm ClickDocuments. At Cisco, she focused on world wide marketing and positioning of Cisco's Cloud & Data Center switching business. She brings both strong engineering & marketing skills with verticals experience from many different industries. Ambal received her Masters in Computer Science from Purdue University and an MBA in Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Ambal is an avid reader and hiker. Her hiking pursuits have taken her to several mountains including Mt. Whitney at 14,500 feet (which she managed to climb in 1 day). Ambal lives in Austin, TX with her family of 3 boys (that includes her husband!) and a border-collie+lab mix dog named Rainbow.