When is the last time you gave someone a list of things to do and what was the outcome?
The reason I ask this is because as humans we really cannot remember more than four things at once, especially if they are verbal things.
In fact, in medical schools across the nation, doctors are trained not to ask more than four things at once. For example, imagine being asked if you have a cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, or headache? Chances are, you forget to disclose a similar or duplicative item (either runny nose or sneezing) in your answer, or maybe more. In this or more serious situations, it could lead to a different suspected diagnosis.
How can we apply this to marketing?
Simple. Look back at the last three posts you made on social media, or the last email newsletter you sent to your audience. How much did you cover? Can you even remember before you look, or was the list too long?
Whenever possible, break your message down into one topic, ask, or point. Is your service responsive, thorough, personalized, and valuable? Awesome! Tell your audience how responsive you are today, how thorough you are tomorrow, how personalized your approach is the next day, and how valuable your services are the day after that.
But, you ask…What if someone sees my message today but not tomorrow or the next day or the day after that?
At least they’ll remember what you said today… and it’s far better to hope that potential customers will remember one thing versus risking all four messages are lost or ignored because they could not process them.
In my experience, simplifying one’s message is the hardest thing for us to change. After all, we’re trained to make grand mission and vision statements. We’re trained to list accomplishments and services. But to continue to follow this training and market yourself or your business in big lists and complex statements simply cannot work during a time where we process the equivalent of 175 newspapers a day. Heck, it never worked. We always forgot about our sneezes when asked about a stuffy nose in the same list.
So… how do you change your marketing to be more memorable by us humans who have very, very bad memories?
- Practice at home. Only give your partner or children one instruction at a time (we are GREAT at this with our pets but not so great at it with humans). Not only will this style of communication be wildly effective, you’ll begin to make a habit of it in your marketing, too.
- Plan in advance. Let’s say you send out weekly emails and post three times a week on social media. If you do it in real time, you are likely to fall into the trap of making the post or email too long, with too many lists. If you plan your content in advance, you can spot when you’re sharing too much information at once, and bump some of it to another day (or two or five).
- Leave mission statements and lists on your website. It’s not that lists and mission statements have no place in marketing… just make sure they’re in the right place. If you do a good enough job catching potential customers’ attention on digital media, traditional media, or OOH collateral, they will go seek out more information, likely on your website. When they seek out the information themselves, they will remember it better because it made it past their reticular activating system.
I look forward to seeing (and remembering) your simplified content. And remember, only give one instruction at once tonight. Asking someone to take the garbage out, turn the lights out, take the dog out, and lock the door may leave you with a high electric bill and a dog that really has to go potty!