Is a Lost Kitty Poster a Study in Good Marketing?

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Vince Bitel

VP of Creative Services

A clear reminder of the basics, found on a telephone pole

At times, the best of us get bogged down. Messaging complexity overwhelms us. We try to incorporate too much contradictory feedback. Stakeholders don’t take the time to understand the simple role that each individual piece plays in the sales process. The design doesn’t function well. So we end up with marketing that refuses to employ the basic marketing techniques that make a lost kitty poster simple, understandable and engaging.

Recently, while out walking my dog I spotted a lost kitty poster stapled to a telephone pole. A beloved pet was missing, lost, wandering aimlessly in the wild while I held mine safely tethered to a leash. The emotions drummed up! I desperately wanted to be able to call the owners and let them know I’d found their cat and it would be safe and sound! It was obvious several other people had the same reaction, since most of the tabbed phone numbers were torn off.

What if all marketing could be that successful?

What a lost kitty poster reminds us about good marketing

It appears in relevant context

Distributing a message in the right venue is crucial to getting the most response. It’s where the audience is most likely to find the cat. More importantly, a telephone pole by the side of the road, with cars rushing by and the eerie wooded area in close distance, help the reader understand the urgency and dangers of a pet lost in the outdoors and will lead them to take action.

A simple, understandable layout

It’s easy to read quickly as you’re passing by. The content flow makes sense. The tabbed phone numbers offer an easy way to take the number with you. The design functions well to communicate urgency, provide you with the pertinent details and facilitates the call the action. All marketing should be so inspired.

A succinct heading

The immediate reaction that “MISSING!” or “LOST!” gets with readers is a prime example of writing on point. For the reader, the situation and the need for his or her participation are communicated with remarkable frugality. It’s much more effective than “Our cat is black with a white face, is 5 years old, his name is JoJo, and he got out of the house and we don’t know where he is so please help us find him.”

A compelling image

Nothing brings content and messaging to life more than a compelling and real visual. No one ever uses a stock image of a more photogenic cat, cute clip art of a cat or an abstract expressionist painting of the cat done a few years ago as an adult ed art project. They use a visual that is vital for following through on the call to action.

The reward for taking the call to action

As marketers, we can often forget that we need to be very, very clear with our audience about what they should expect to get in return for taking our call to action. And we need to make sure it’s worth the effort for them, whether the reward is $500 for safe return or knowing he or she’s performed a good deed.

Including only the most pertinent information

The reader is provided only with content necessary to take the next action. There’s no reader attention span squandered on how to use a telephone to call the phone number, what color house to look for when returning the pet, how the cat/reward exchange will transpire or how much vacuuming you’ll need to do to get all the cat hair out of your car.

An undeniably clear call to action

There’s absolutely no mistaking what you should do if you see or recover the cat. There aren’t several options for contact or longwinded descriptions of how or why to take the action. It’s simple: Seen my cat? Call this number.

Stick to the basics and be successful

The next time you find yourself working through a marketing program, remember the virtues of a lost kitty poster that can improve your response rate. And be sure to look for my future blog, “Yard sale signs: the best way to fill seats at your next event!”

If you have any thoughts you would like to share or would like to share other examples of how to stick to the basics, please feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn.

content marketing, contextual, effective messaging, marketing message development, marketing programs, user engagement

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