Grocery lists and catchy tunes will help you decide.
I firmly believe that the less copy you have in your marketing, the better. Not because I don’t like words. I like them a lot. In just the right combinations, words are extremely powerful, and absolutely essential to any and every great brand. But it’s true: The less copy you use, the easier it is for the reader, your brand’s audience, to remember what you say.
The trick is in figuring out what your most important words are, and having the discipline and conviction to say those words over and over and over until those words become synonymous with you.
Say less. Say it again and again and again.
Speaking of words, there are books filled with them on the subjects of marketing and branding. Recently, I was handed a copy of Selling The Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith, a fellow agency owner.
This is my kind of book. Smaller than most, only 5” x 8”. Less than 250 pages. Divvied up into bite-size chapters, typically two pages or less. And the reading is easy. “Commercial” and “myopia” are about as fancy as the words get. Through real-world analogies, Beckwith makes his points clearly, concisely and in a common-sensical way.
Though first printed in 1997, much of the content of Selling The Invisible has passed the test of time. A couple of the chapters regarding copy are still positively spot on.
Give them one thing to remember, not 10.
Take “The Grocery List Problem,” for example. Mom sends you to the store for raisins, Drano, Gummy Bears, milk, and some hundred-watt light bulbs. “You forget the milk,” writes Beckwith, “but it’s the milk your family needed most.”
Beckwith’s point is that “you run this risk when you hand prospects a grocery list of different messages about you. They remember the raisins, which aren’t important, and forget the milk. Your prospects forget your real point of distinction, and remember a supporting message that hardly matters.”
The Song Remains The Same. And that’s a good thing.
Another chapter is entitled “Your Favorite Songs.”
You hear a song once. Meh.
The next day, you hear the song again. This time, you note the singer and maybe her name.
A couple days later, you hear it again. You start singing along to the hook.
“Two days later, you buy the CD,” writes Beckwith (CD? remember, this book is from 1997).
“It’s taken seven or eight playings for the song’s message to sink in. But finally, it has.”
“What if the singer changed the song and tune every time? What would you remember? Almost nothing. What does this tell you about your marketing communications? Can you keep changing your words, your melody, your entire theme? If you do, what will people remember? For what will they know you?”
The moral of Beckwith’s story? “After you say one thing, repeat it again and again.”