Short attention spans call for a quick breakthrough message
People’s initial attention spans are as short as 8.25 seconds, shorter than a goldfish! So, you only have seconds to break through audience inattention and deliver a relevant message.
Yet most companies don’t have a breakthrough message.
When you have a 7-second message on your Message Map, it can do lots of work for you. It serves as:
- Headlines and subheads
- A Tweet or other social post
- An elevator speech
- The summary of a presentation
- The main message in a news media interview.
It’s easy to create a 7-second message with a Message Map
When you create a Message Map, at its heart is a 7-second message of 23 words or less – your home base and positive points.
A Message Map ensures that your message comes out concise, clear and consistent every time.
In a workshop with a Fortune 500 company, I found marketers had done a tremendous amount of work to create thorough messaging. This company has 5 pages of messages, carefully scripted out for a series of customer scenarios.
So you know, if a customer asks this, to say that.
The messaging document goes on and on in great detail. Here’s the problem:
Under time pressure, a 5-page messaging document is too hard to use
When a customer asks a question, your task is to scan 5 dense pages of text, searching for the right answer. It’s just way too cumbersome to use as a customer awaits your answer.
Since the messaging consists of tables of dense text, it’s not easy to navigate or use. In fact, it’s hard to find your first 7-second message.
Multipage messaging documents don’t help answer simple, basic questions. Any customer, employee or influencer may ask a question like this at any time:
- “What’s your company all about anyway?”
- “What do customers like about your product?”
- “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?)
When everyone in your company answers basic questions the same way, people will come to understand your company’s story much better.
Are your employees ready to answer these questions? Will marketing, sales, PR, investor relations and executives deliver one consistent answer, or a bunch of different answers?
At most companies, what you’ll hear is a bunch of different answers. Because when your people don’t exactly know what to say and they’re pressed for time, they make up stuff on the spot.
In a pinch, a 5-page messaging document isn’t much help. You have to flip back and forth to find answers for the simplest questions.
Since multipage messaging documents lack ease of use and a clear hierarchy, it’s unlikely you can find a relevant nugget of the message fast enough to use in real time.
And very few people can memorize a 5-page messaging document.
It’s easy to learn a Message Map by heart, since it tells your story in 23 words, 7 seconds or less
In long messaging documents, what’s not clear is:
- What’s the most important message?
- How’s it supported by facts, data and third-party quotes?
- Why should the audience care?
You find your main message in no time on a 1-Page Message Map – since the main message (home base) and 3 positive points are always at its center.
A Message Map enables employees, distributors and agents to confidently deliver an elevator speech of 7 seconds, 23 words or less to anyone, anytime.
Once you capture an audience’s interest, it’s easy to scale up your message to 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes or more with a Message Map.
One innate benefit of a 1-page Message Map is that you get an instantly clear message hierarchy. The home base and positive points give you a conversation starter that’s relevant to your audience because it answers their biggest question first: What’s in it for me?
If your company is using a multipage messaging document, why not boil it down to a 1-Page Message Map that everyone would find easier to use?
A Message Map makes your message simple enough for anyone to deliver
Co-create a one-page Message Map inside your company. Then train your customer-facing employees on exactly how to deliver your company’s message.
While you’re at it, train executives, sales, marketing, PR, investor relations, customer service, distributors – everyone who needs to be able to hold at least a 7-second conversation with stakeholders.
With a Message Map, your whole choir can sing from the same songbook
I can vouch from experience: it’s much easier to run marketing and communications when everyone stays on message.
With a Message Map, you won’t suffer the messaging problems in most corporations – the Tower of Babel problem. Most companies act like the Tower of Babel, where different executives and departments each speak their own unique language and remain tragically unable to tell a lay person what the company’s all about, and what’s in it for them.
To learn more about Message Maps, see the blog links below.
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.
Latest posts by George Stenitzer (see all)
- Q&A – “How do you convince all levels of an organization to move toward content marketing and away from campaign to campaign?”
- “How do you efficiently take one piece of content and quickly adapt it across internal/external channels?” – Top 100 Question
- “How do you maximize content with as little effort and time as possible?” – Top 100 Question