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Discipline in Marketing Communications

When I tell people about Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint, the reaction is often shock and disbelief. How can anyone possibly adhere to those guidelines, they ask?

Effective marketing communication requires discipline. The temptation is always there to

  • Describe features instead of benefits.
  • Tout too many benefits.
  • Put more on the brochure rather than less.
  • Use different messages and themes in different communications.
  • Appeal to everyone (i.e. no one) instead of a targeted market segment.
The 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint is an example of a set of disciplinary guidelines. It counters the temptations of creators of presentations to create too many slides, make presentations too long, and put too much on each slide.

Your product manager can play a constructive role in maintaining discipline in marketing communications. She can provide input to, and provide feedback on, the collateral prepared by marcom folks. She can also suggest disciplinary guidelines to counter the temptations that lead marketing communications astray.

Possible disciplinary guidelines include:

  • Focus on benefits instead of features.
  • Tout no more than three benefits.
  • Place limits on font sizes.
  • Mention certain key messages in every communication.
  • Offend or turn someone off who is not in the target market.
Since these guidelines counter natural instincts, marketing communications folks may balk at them. It's important that you and your product manager educate the organization about the reasons for them.

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