A common mistake inexperienced marketers make is to cram too much information into marketing copy. I have seen this manifested in several ways:
- Too much copy on PowerPoint slides - often full screen visuals with no copy are the most effective
- Too much copy on product packaging, especially for products that are displayed at point of purchase
- Too much copy in brochures and other collateral materials
- Too much copy on outdoor advertising - consider how much a driver can read in one second or less
- Websites cluttered with copy, visuals and click through buttons
Research has shown that the more information that is shared, the less people remember any of it. Always ask these two questions: (1) What are the one or two messages that we are trying to convey with this communication vehicle? (2) How can we communicate each of these in five words or less?
And if you are trying to make memorable points, think of doing it in lists of three things, each with its own bullet. It would be best if each thing was communicated with three words or less. And it is very powerful if each thing is communicated with one very simple and precise word. It is an added bonus if all three words start with the same letter, creating an alliteration. But don't force the alliteration by choosing words that don't exactly convey each of the three concepts.
Related to this, I find simple infographics are powerful communication sources. I like using triangles with three messages, five pointed stars with five messages or the intersection of three circles (a Venn diagram) symbolizing the combined power of three intersecting things.
We are now living at a time in which people think in sound bites and communicate in Tweets. You may be offering a complex product or solution, but it is still up to you to break the message down into simple consumable parts. Think about what simple message needs to be conveyed at each step in the marketing process and then convey that and no more.
And remember, marketing copy is not about sounding smart. It is about communicating clearly.
To paraphrase French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, "If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter." Take the time to write shorter marketing copy.