Marketing Messages: Be Clear and Concise to Avoid Confusion

I have a cousin who played football when he was in college back in the 1980s. He recently shared a funny story with me that underscores the need to be clear in your marketing messages.


My cousin’s name is Pat. He was registering for classes his senior year and he needed a Fine Arts credit to graduate. Of course, being the responsible person that he was, Pat waited until his last semester to take this course.

When he discovered the class he wanted was closed, he started to panic and was rifling through the course catalog to find another. He found one offered in the school of music with the description, “Advanced Music Study.” That was the only description. “I like music,” he thought to himself, “how hard could this be.”  When it was open, Pat registered for it, relieved that he had found a Fine Arts credit.

On the first day of class he found the room, went inside and saw a lone chair. He sat down and the professor entered and introduced himself.  As the professor described the class, Pat found himself only half-listening. He was looking around, wondering where all the other students were.

Then the professor asked him, “What do you play?” 

Surprised by the question, Pat quickly answered, “Football.”

“No,” the professor responded, smiling with amusement, “I mean what musical instrument do you play?”

“I play football. I’m a safety,” Pat said with a straight face. “I don’t play an instrument.”

As understanding crossed the professor’s face, he commented, “Well this is an advanced performance class for musicians.  I think you might have signed up for the wrong course.”

Embarrassed, Pat stood up, shook the professor’s hand and left the room.  He knew he needed to find another Fine Arts credit quickly.

Confusing Marketing Messages

While this story doesn’t have anything to do with marketing, it does underscore the importance of being clear in your communication.  Pat signed up for Advanced Music Study because he assumed it was something he could take.  There was no clear course description that dissuaded him.

I often see marketing messages from businesses that are unclear.  When consumers or prospects see them they can create confusion about the products or services of that company.

If potential customers are confused, they probably won’t buy.

Avoiding Confusion

When creating marketing messages, there are five steps you want to take to avoid confusion.

     Target Market

Be sure you have identified your target market.  That is the group that would most likely buy your products or service.  Break this group down by their gender, age and even life experiences.


Once you have identified your target market, create a marketing persona.  This is essentially creating a “person” that has the characteristics of your target market.  With a persona in place, you can begin crafting marketing messages that will resonate with this group

     Be Clear and Concise    

Make sure your messaging is clear and in language your target audience will both understand and appreciate. Remember, “Features tell but benefits sell.” So make sure your target understands clearly how they will benefit from your product or service.

     Call To Action

Be sure to tell your audience what it is you want them to do.  Getting them interested in your offering will mean noting if you don’t inform them about the next steps to take toward buying.  This can be as easy as, “Call today for more information,” or “Visit our website to order.”


With the target market identified and the marketing persona created, you can now choose those marketing channels that have the key demographics you want to reach.

The Wrap

Pat was confused when he sat in that classroom.  He had made the wrong choice based on the messaging in the course catalog.  Make sure your prospects don’t do the same thing after reading or hearing your marketing messages.

If you want to learn more about creating targeted and clear marketing messages, call me at 513-237-5530.


Bob Turner is a Digital Marketing Consultant with RevLocal in Cincinnati, Ohio.


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