Does Your Marketing Match Your Image?

I spend a fortune on four-color, glossy brochures. When people receive my materials, I want them to know I am a seasoned professional and charge accordingly. If you also deliver a quality product or service, your marketing materials should reflect this.

Your image, reflected by your advertising, should do two things:

  • Convince people you’re worth doing business with.
  • Position you in the market.

Whether you’re at the top, middle, or bottom of the price scale, your image needs to communicate that. If your image isn’t consistent and compatible with your pricing and your level of service, you’re going to confuse and alienate your customers.

David Garfinkel, Coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for the Imaging Industry, told me about the experiences of a client. This retailer visited a trade show and was attracted to a distinctive and obviously costly booth for a design firm. He asked them to send him some information. When the letter came, it was on shoddy looking stationery, sloppily typed.

The retailer decided not to do business with this firm. Although everything else had looked great, the sharp contrast between the classy booth and the shabby letter did not inspire trust that the firm would and could deliver. The design firm had spent at least $50,000 on their trade show exhibit, but didn’t have the common sense to maintain a consistent image by investing in good letterhead and a competent secretary. It cost them a $100,000 contract.

In my book Get What You Want!, I tell about a trainer named Joan Minninger who decided to expand her successful seminars for the Civil Service Commission into programs for major corporations. She made two investments totaling $1000, a lot of money at the time. One was a really good business outfit. The other was quality stationery. She learned later that her first big contract at General Electric was partly due to that stationery.

The training manager liked her presentation, but the clincher was the stationery: “She must be dynamite. Look at that watermarked stationery!” Of course, Joan had the talent to follow through — she has written many successful books and worked for several dozen major corporations — but it was the initial “package” that got her in the door.

Here’s the flip side of that. You don’t want to send anything out that looks like a million dollars, if you can’t deliver a million dollars. Once you can, make sure all of your marketing lives up to the same standard. With all the shameless self-promotions I’ve done, I make incredibly bold claims. “You’re going to learn more.” “This is going to be the best.” “I guarantee.” I really can guarantee everything that I promote, so I have lots of confidence in my image and marketing.

If your marketing impresses your prospects and customers, is that good enough? No, besides impressing them, you must convince them. People don’t buy just because they’re dazzled or blown away by what they see. They buy because they’re convinced that you can do the job, you can deliver the quality and value they expect, and your track record is solid.

Here are five ways to convince people with your marketing.

1. Clear Information
How easily can people understand what you’re saying? People don’t buy when they’re confused.

2. Quality Information
A lot of marketers these days will send out “free information,” “valuable information,” even “money- making information,” at no charge as a small sample of what you’ll get when you actually pay money.

3. Quality Design & Printed Materials
…what we call production values. In my case, that’s particularly important because I’m selling Fripp the speaker, a very high- quality, well- orchestrated, valuable performance. The production values in what you do and deliver must match the quality of the marketing materials you send out.

4. Third-Party Endorsements
Let others trumpet how good you are. The first thing people see on my one-sheet or web site are top executives praising me, saying I walk on water and they sleep better at night when they hire me. There’s no better way to convince people.

5. Strong Images
Compel your customers to imagine doing business with you, seeing it as an easy, positive, and beneficial experience. Create an image or word picture of this interaction. Tell the story. Make it leap off the page.

Impressive, clear, marketing efforts that mirror your image and what you deliver are your key to successful marketing.


  1. Analyze three past marketing efforts, rating their success for delivering the five qualities described above. Are there areas for improvement?
  2. Design a new marketing piece (or redesign one of your past efforts), using the five criteria above to make it stronger.