All Episodes

Backcountry Marketing

EP: 150 Words Matter: How to Get Your Messaging Right

Play Icon

This Episode

Understanding your audience is one of the core tenets of marketing. In fact, it’s so important that it’s one of the three principles of marketing. 1. Understand your audience 2. Know what you want to tell them 3. Tell them a story

It’s such a simple requirement and if done well goes unnoticed. But when the audience isn’t understood it’s obvious, apparent, and can cause harm to the brand.

Back in 2021, Toyota posted this photo on their Instagram with the caption “Here’s to getting down off-road” What ensued shortly after the post went live was a chorus of mountain bikers ripping Toyota apart. As the saying goes, real recognizes real and this photo missed the mark. While it’s funny and hopefully the Toyota marketing team is laughing at themselves, what can be learned from this? Knowing your audience is critical.

In this episode, I chat with Becky Marcelliano. She’s the Senior Access & Stewardship Marketing Manager at onX Maps and navigates these waters every day. onX serves three primary user groups: trail users, hunters, and off-roaders. While there are commonalities amongst these user groups, they’re also very unique each with their own nomenclature.

Becky shares some of the challenges that onX faces while they’ve been learning how to message each of these user groups. In an environment where one word means one thing to one user and the same word means something else to another the stakes can be high. Knowing that one misstep can uproot years of trust building, Becky and her team take it upon themselves to walk this fine line.

If one thing is clear it’s that brands need to speak the language of their consumers. Every word, photo, and film sequence needs to reflect the core zeitgeist. Does that mean that brands can’t push boundaries? No, but they need to do so in a way that still honors the core of their customer.

After this conversation with Becky, here are some follow-up questions I had.

  1. In the Toyota example above, how much damage was done to the brand? Was it measurable?
  2. Is there such a thing as a perfect word?
  3. When is it appropriate for a brand to introduce a new phrase or word into the culture?

Cole, Founder of Port Side Productions and Host of the Backcountry Marketing Podcast

Are you in A Creative Slump?

Sign up for our newsletter that features new episodes, thought-provoking questions, and creative inspiration to help you tackle your job with the same excitement of a powder day.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.