Sing it, Brother!
by Michael Waite, Bonefrog Creative
Too many buy into that adage that nobody wants to read, so keep written business communications short. Distill everything to bullet points.
Problem with adages, proverbs, and rules of thumb is that they become too inclusive, cover too much turf. That's certainly the case with the one that goes: Nobody takes time to read, so put your information into bullet points.
People read your stuff because they're interested, not because it's short. Those who eye your headline and subheads and decide they aren't interested in what follows will bail out then and there. A string of bullet points isn't going to ensure interested reading.
SING IT! First and foremost, keep it relevant to their needs. Present your product or service from a what's-in-it-for-them angle. Sing the benefits, not the features. Remember, it's not about you. And dump that corporate mission-statement back-patting, self-serving stuff. Seriously. Who cares what your mission statement is? It means nothing to consumers: they wade through that stuff all day long, they read and hear ad nauseum about how great and dedicated and environmentally sensitive and customer-focused and industry leading and award-winning a company is. No, it doesn't instill confidence. It's expected. Besides, consumers know better: they don't buy it just because you say it.
Rather, focus on the points that match your benefits to their needs. Be concise and clear, but don’t be stingy with the information. Especially on your website. People pre-qualify themselves by clicking in. Deliver the decision-vital content they expect to find. All of it.
Know this: the business communications game has shifted. We consumers are no longer limited to the tidy packages of information (and spin) served up by the corporate machine. Now we help themselves, tapping into the vast buffet of informational resources available on the internet. We can find reviews and critiques on just about any product or service. Bloggers tirelessly shovel out opinions, keeping the buzz dialed up. If consumers can't get the breadth and depth of information they want about a product or service from official sources—like your company website—they'll get it from somewhere else. Do you trust someone else to get it right? The misinformation out there is staggering. You simply can't afford to be silent or stingy with the information about your products and services. Get it out there—all of it.
Obviously, there are inherent limitations to how much can be said; limitations imposed by the communication vehicle itself—the ad size, the brochure, the radio spot. You gotta go with what fits. But on the web, everything fits, so sing it, brother! Give them what they want. The information must be tightly written, focused and most of all, relevant, but yes, pour it on. They'll only read as much as we want to read, but they can't read what isn't there.
phone: (208) 776-5210
© Michael Waite • (May be reprinted as long as contact information is included)