How Strong is Your Brand’s Handshake?

(And Four Easy Ways to Strengthen It)

A strong and authentic handshake is one of the simplest ways to make a good first impression. It’s true between people—it’s also true in advertising.

In marketing, we think of the “handshake” as the connection customers and prospects experience (or not!) as they move from one marketing message to the next.

Here are four classic examples of weak marcom handshakes that, once identified and corrected, can turn limp and disappointing marketing handshakes into winners that build confidence, trust and business.


Four Classic Handshake Disconnects (and Simple Ways to Fix Them)

1. Your Ad Campaign Says One Thing—Your Web Page Says Another


Too often the messaging handshakes between the digital ad (or any ad) and the web page you’re sent to, look and feel like they’re from completely different companies. Or about completely different ideas. When advertising succeeds in capturing someone’s attention with enough intensity to propel them to your website, customers are looking for the next chapter in the story your advertising started, not a completely new book.


The stronger the connection—messaging, look and feel, design, tone and manner—between the stories you begin in your advertising and how those same stories are further developed online (or in other collateral or content), the better. Advertising is there to whet appetites. When your prospects arrive, your website needs to serve up the promised meal.

2. A Fantastic New Video—That Almost No One Sees


A company invests a lot of effort to create a world-class video for a very important initiative, but fails to think about how best to promote it to the biggest and best audience. Classic example: The video is shown at a big launch event, then buried on a sub-page of the company’s website where only a tiny audience will ever find it. This amounts to a bad handshake between strategic intent and business goals. Instead of the company harvesting all the potential impact of the video beyond its initial use, the overall results underwhelm.


If you go to the trouble to make a great video (or other great content), make sure it gains the widest possible audience. Prominently post it on your website. Leverage it across appropriate social media channels. Develop advertising with links or a call to action leading directly to the place on your site where the video is showcased. Surround the video with additional “for more information” content of equal quality.

3. Your Digital Ad Links to a Cool Offer—Buried on a Busy Landing Page


A company markets a compelling offer via targeted digital ads to demonstrate its thought leadership and mission to help. But when the digital ad is clicked, it links to a landing page filled with so much distracting content the viewer is forced to scroll to even find the offer. Suddenly, what seemed like an easy and alluring offer starts feeling more like an irritating chore. Quickly your prospect starts thinking, “What was that offer? I’ve forgotten already. Oh well, just forget it.”


If you have a great offer—strong enough to make it worth spending precious ad dollars to market—showcase it in a singular, compelling way on the landing page. Don’t make people scroll or work hard to find the offer. If you’re compelled to “capture lead information” about the respondent before handing over the offer (making them pause to enter contact information, etc.), keep in mind it will radically reduce redemption rates.

4. Your Mobile Ads Link to a Video—That Doesn’t Show Well on Mobile


A company makes a great video for a trade show—no audio, dense but artful infographics dramatically presented on giant booth-mounted HD monitors. The idea crops up to post this same video online, supported by a robust mobile ad campaign linking directly to it. Here’s the problem: the video was created to show on a large screen in a trade show environment, not one-to-one on a tiny mobile device screen. Suddenly, a costly mobile ad campaign succeeds in driving lots of potential customers to a disappointing mobile experience—and a lot of bad impressions. All because of a poor handshake between how the video was created, where the video will actually be viewed, and how the video was promoted.


Awesome content such as videos can be powerful business drivers. But take care to clearly anticipate the most important ways this content will be consumed. Creating separate versions of content tuned to specific viewing experiences can cost a bit more upfront, but pay off in the long run by giving all your viewers a first-class experience that puts your company in the best possible light.

The Bottom Line:

Strong marketing handshakes build a cohesive story and experience as customers move from one message and medium to the next. When mapping out communications streams, put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. Make sure each step naturally leads to the next, with minimal friction and maximum continuity. By keeping your brand’s marcom handshakes strong, you’ll reap the rewards.