To overcome people’s short attention spans, make your marketing message short and sweet.
Make your message quick
A study shows that people’s initial attention span is as short as 8.25 seconds. That compares to a goldfish’s attention span of 9 seconds!
Short marketing messages get to the gist fast – in 7 seconds, 23 words or less.
Why? Seven seconds is the average length of a sound bite when the company’s spokesperson gets quoted in news media.
In 7 seconds, great messages deliver one main idea or home base, backed up by 3 positive points that prove it. You see the basic structure of a Message Map here:
This 1 + 3 message structure is optimal because it minimizes people’s cognitive load and avoids overtaxing the human brain.
Deliver one clear, concise, consistent message over a long period of time. That practice makes your marketing message easier for customers to recall and act on at decision time.
Why? Because consistent messages get stored in people’s place cells, which never run out of capacity – unlike their short-term memories.
If you want other people to share your message on social media, make it even shorter.
- On Twitter, the most-shared posts run about 70 characters or 14 words.
- On Facebook, the most-shared posts are 15 words, a BuzzSumo study of 100 million headlines found.
- On LinkedIn, posts of 9 words get shared the most, BuzzSumo found.
Make your message sweet
A sweet message instantly answers people’s question, what’s in it for me? WIIFM? It hooks your audience by leading with benefits.
Delete any message elements that elicit a “Who cares?” or “So what?” response.
In B2B messaging, offer personal benefits on top of the business benefits. Personal benefits add emotion to otherwise dry and calculated messages. For example:
- The new software saves your business time and makes your life easier.
- The new network increases uptime, so you get fewer calls on nights and weekends.
- The new facility shortens most people’s commutes, making it easier to recruit new hires and increase employee satisfaction.
Make benefit statements even more believable by adding social proof, such as testimonials, case histories, ratings, rankings, third-party certifications and endorsements in social media.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Make sure your message is relevant
To ensure your message is relevant to buyers, perform buyer persona research before you create a marketing message. Buyer personas uncover these essential insights:
- The topics buyers are interested in.
- The questions buyers seek answers to.
- The obstacles buyers must overcome.
- The people and media buyers seek out to find answers.
A Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) survey of more than 300 B2B buyers in North America and the UK shows how well sales and marketing messages perform in the eyes of buyers.
About half (51%) of buyers say sales and marketing communications are better than a few years ago. The other half sees no change or says it’s worse.
People want relevant, timely messages
When you dig down to why marketing communications are better or worse than before, it boils down to two issues: message relevance and timeliness, according to a Dun & Bradstreet survey (registration required).
Buyers who see improvements say that today’s communications are more relevant to their organization (41%) and more relevant to their role (37%). And 21% find the communications more timely.
Buyers who see no improvements say they get too many irrelevant communications that look like spam or canned messages (39%). Another 29% say the communications are not relevant to their role, and 22% find the communications untimely.
Keep sales and marketing messages short and sweet
Remember, what Sales wants most from Marketing is better messaging.
Use a Message Map to create a one-page message that every customer-facing employee can use to deliver the message successfully.
A Message Map helps you:
- Overcome buyers’ short attention spans.
- Meet buyers’ need to know what’s in it for them.
- Ensure your message is relevant to each buyer’s company and role.
That’s how you break through with the message, short and sweet!
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As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.
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