Ain’t no “thing.” 

The Thing MentalityWhen it comes to their marketing communications, many business owners – and even some marketing directors – fall prey to what I call the “thing” mentality. They begin to think of marketing as simply making a series of things – making a brochure, making an ad, making a page on their website. They’re all just things.

When faced with a marketing problem, they immediately resort to making a “thing.” “I need to do a brochure.” Then they march ahead, usually with the objective of making the brochure just as quickly – and cheaply – as possible. Because if it’s just a “thing,” then it needs to be made fast, and it needs to be made cheap. After all, it’s just a business expense.

Forever Making a Thing, Never Getting Results

One large order of content, please.And this goes on in a never-ending cycle. Forever perceiving the need for a thing related to their marketing efforts, forever running ahead full-steam making the latest “thing” just as quickly and cheaply as possible.

And never realizing any real value from their marketing efforts. They continue to make “things,” and they continue to become more and more jaded about the effectiveness of any and all marketing efforts. “We did a brochure, but it didn’t really have any noticeable effect.”  

Get Beyond The Thing, to What You’re Communicating

There’s a problem with the “thing” mentality. And if you’re guilty of thinking that way, it goes to the heart of why your marketing efforts aren’t yielding the results you hope for, why you make these efforts over and over again, without ever moving the needle in response from your audiences.

And that’s because it “ain’t no thing.” It’s not just a brochure. An ad. A web page.

It’s a vital piece of your communications with your target audience, the folks who can make or break your business, the people you need to understand – deeply – and communicate with in a way that moves them closer to what you have to offer, that convinces them that the solution you present them with is the ideal solution to the problem they have.

The brochure is a “thing” in the most literal sense. It’s ink on paper.

The ad is a thing. It’s ink on paper, in purchased space.

Think, Then Speak

But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is what that thing says to your target audience. It’s the words. It’s the design. It’s the hard thinking about the benefits your product or service holds for the people you want to make customers or supporters.

The “Thing” Mentality is Hurting Your Business

If you’re guilty of the “thing mentality,” if you’re guilty of valuing the thing over what it communicates to your audience, it’s costing you money, and it’s costing you opportunity:  

  1. You’re marching forward without any thought given to how this piece of communication serves your strategy. Every piece of communication you have with your target audience should forward your strategy, that long and hard thinking about how you’re positioning your company in the mind of your customer. If you don’t know your sweet spot, that place where you communicate from a position of strength, where your brand can mean something to exactly the right audience, why are you producing a piece of communication that may very well contradict your strategy, or at the very least, fail to forward it?
  2. Ink on PaperYou’re assigning value in the wrong place. I wrote it above, but it bears repeating: A brochure, an ad, are just ink on paper. A web page is just representation on a flat surface. They have no intrinsic value. None. The only value they have is as a medium to carry your message to your audience, your customers. The value is in the care with which that message is crafted. Want to test that theory? Take a piece of paper. Put a blob of ink on it. There you go – you have printing. See how far it takes you with your customers.
  3. When you value the thing more than what it says, you run the risk of not investing in good work that will move your business ahead. Hence phenomena like Elance, where the uninformed go to buy “copy” for a penny a word, and get exactly what they’re paying for. They think of it as just “content,” a part of the “thing.” It’s sad, what businesses do to themselves with this mentality.
  4. You step over a dollar to save a dime. Good copy based on a sound strategy and a clear understanding of key message points will outsell hastily written copy done only with economy in mind every time.
  5. I Saved Money on the Copy and DesignYour materials tend to look as bad as they read. The “thing mentality” will devalue design just as it does the writing, and for the same reasons. The explosion of either do-it-yourself design, or the “I-have-a-friend-whose-nephew-is-doing-design-in-his-basement-with-Microsoft-Publisher-for-five-dollars-an-hour” phenomenon is testimony to just how far the thing mentality has found its way into our business culture. That’s why you see so much really bad design. Drive down the road sometime and look at the billboards in your market. A large percentage of them aren’t even readable, let alone designed to favorably position the advertisers. They save money by economizing on copy and design, then spend hundreds of dollars a month on a billboard that’s doing nothing to build their business.


Discipline Pays – Take The Time to Do It Right

Don’t fall prey to the “thing” mentality. Invest in good benefit and action oriented copywriting and design, based on a clear understanding of your strategy in the marketplace and the benefits your product or service offer to your target audience. Be clear about your key messages, the ones that repeat themselves every time, in every setting. Make your marketing communications the product of research and thought about what they need to accomplish.

When you do that, that “thing” will begin to pay off for you in ways that the old mentality could never have.



© 2017 Rave Communications

Rave Communications is full-service marketing communications firm located in Pocatello, Idaho. The firm specializes in website design and related communications services for B2B and professional service firms. The principals at Rave Communications have over 30 years’ experience each in helping clients achieve their goals in the marketplace. Learn more about Rave Communications at

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