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Candy Heart Wisdom for B2B Marketers

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 by Keven Smith

The other night, I tore open a bag of candy “message” hearts. Actually, two bags, because I bought some of the jumbo-sized ones, too. Studying the mix of pastel hearts scattered on my table, I realized that these traditional Valentine’s Day treats can offer B2B marketers some important lessons. (Admittedly, not much—but they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than flying to Denver for some fancy seminar.)

Picture of valentines day candy hearts.

Here are my net takeaways:

  1. Use word count wisely. Despite the fact that the jumbo hearts allow up to six characters per line whereas the smaller hearts allow just four (or mayyybefive), the sentiments on the jumbo hearts were almost universally lamer. Their cleverest one was:

    HEAD
    HEELS

    They also simply repeated many of the messages from the smaller hearts. This puzzled me. Do I buy the jumbo hearts because I love the taste so much? No. I’m looking for more fleshed-out messages with richer emotional content.

  2. Speak to one audience at a time. Open a bag of candy hearts and you’ll get hit with all kinds of conflicting messages. They’re aimed at the brave (MY HERO) and the inattentive (HEY YOU). Some are alluring (XOXO, DARE YA) and some are blunt (GET REAL, NO WAY). The candy heart makers would be wise to divide the messages into separate boxes based on communication objective. For example, FRIEND 4 EVER would go nicely in a box designed for people who need a gentle way to deflect unwanted affection. And YES DEAR could be the flagship heart in a box aimed at long-married couples.
  3. Don’t be a square. One of the hearts urges: E-MAIL ME. First, people have been leaving out the hyphen in that word for years now. But the bigger problem is that there’s absolutely nothing hot about email. It can sit on a server, unread, for hours. If you really can’t wait another second for your next torrid romance to begin, you’ll be better off with TEXT ME.
  4. Use the right medium. MARRY ME: Really? On a candy heart? That’s like running a postcard campaign to market your growing midsized enterprise: “To purchase Smedley Semiconductor, please visit www….”
  5. Ask for the sale. BE MINE: Whoa, doggy. So raw and evocative. Suddenly, I’m back in my kindergarten classroom and Laura Roberts is kissing me behind the door.
  6. Keep it short and sweet. Can you summarize your campaign with SAVE CASH, MAX ROI, or C-U IN CLOUD? If so, YOU ROCK. If not, GUESS WHAT? You need to rethink your key message, SUGAR LIPS.

is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.

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