Simple marketing messages

Why You Need to Keep Marketing Messages Simple

What your marketing messages can gain from 3 usability ideas

Recently I read a great little e-book on usability called The Ten Commandments of UI Design. It offers 3 ways to sharpen up your marketing messages by applying website usability ideas.

Make it easier for your audiences to hear and act on your company’s marketing messages:

  1. Always default to the simplest level of information first.
  2. Minimize the mental activity required by readers.
  3. Don’t demand too much effort from readers.

Here’s how applying those 3 ideas can sharpen up your marketing message.

Always default to the simplest message

Start communications with a short message. A 1-Page Message MapTM gives you a message as short as an elevator speech. It’s 7 seconds, 23 words or less.

Cut the clutter throughout your communications. Cut out every extra word, avoid unnecessary elements and eliminate visual clutter. To customers, less clutter means more clarity.

Have a clear intent about what you want your customers to do after they consume each piece of content. What’s next for them, exactly? Do you want them to watch a video? Read a blog? Subscribe? Chat? Email? Call? And make that next step clear.

To be clear about what should happen next to your audience, first, you have to get it clearly yourself. Then, only give as much information as your audience needs to take that next step, no more.

Minimize mental activity required

Mental activity is also called cognitive load. It’s the amount of mental tax you charge customers to accomplish their goals on your website. The tax includes demanding activities such as perception, memory, and problem-solving.

No one will pay too high a tax to consume your marketing messages.

So break your information into simple chunks. Just like a computer or a mobile network, a human can process only so much information at a time.

Don’t serve chunks that are bigger than their capacity! If you do, you’ll bring that spinning wheel look in their eyes. And soon they’ll click away.

Break up your message into short packets with a Message Map. Say just as much as audiences need to hear, but no more. Avoid TMI (too much information).

Ask yourself: how much reading is too much to require? How much effort does the website demand from customers, compared with how much reward they hope to receive?

In her post Is the juice worth the squeeze? Ann Wiley offers Wilbur Schramm’s fraction of selection model. Estimate the audience’s expectation of reward and divide it by the effort required. Here’s the equation:

Expectation of reward
Effort required

To apply this idea, ask:

  • How do you offer high enough rewards by answering the WIIFM question – What’s In It For Me?
  • How do you lower the reader’s effort? How do you make your content concise, compelling, and crystal-clear?
  • How can the expectation of rewards exceed the effort required to achieve a score of 1 or more?

Help out your audience: use memory aids. Use familiar phrases, rhyme, rhythm, and alliteration to make content easier to remember.

That’s one reason I named my marketing consultancy Crystal Clear Communications.

Go even farther with mnemonic devices. For example, kids learn the English alphabet quicker and better when they learn the alphabet song.

When you alphabetize a list, do you still hear the song in your head: ABCDEFG? Or, if a word begins with N, perhaps you can hear the song’s rhythm of LMNOP?

Can a song help you make your point? For example, here’s my blog entitled How to Make Your Content Simply Irresistible.

Don’t require too much effort.

Make your marketing messages highly readable. Stick with short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

Test the readability of your text to make sure it reads easily. For example, this blog reads at a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 6.8, so most people can read it easily.

Avoid acronyms, jargon, technobabble, and gobbledygook. They erect walls between you and your audience, which your audience may not make the effort to climb over.

Use Global English to maximize your audience, especially if you do business where English is not the native language. For global companies, your audience may include not only the 375 million native speakers of English but also 375 million people who speak English as a second language.

Finally, serve up your message cleanly – in a clean layout. Use pictures and visuals to capture eyeballs. Break up copy with visual elements, short paragraphs, subheads, bullets, and blurbs.

Make your marketing message even stronger: apply all 3 ideas by creating your own 1-Page Message Map.