There is a common theme found in many unsuccessful advertising campaigns: too many words are used when too many messages are crammed into one ad. There is an easy fix. Tiny Words!
Many years ago, when I was first starting out in broadcasting, a program director told me “anything worth saying can be said in 8 seconds or less.” That sounded extreme to me, especially because I thought everyone would be SO interested in what I had to say. So after my show, we listened to a recording of one of my breaks. He stopped the audio, typed out what I had said and printed it. Then, with a big marker, he crossed out three-quarters of what I said. At first I was offended. And then when I looked at what was left, I realized he was right!
So how much can really be said in 8 to10 seconds? Consider this:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.”
A powerful statement, comfortable read and around 10 seconds.
Another example is the Washington DC blizzard of 1996... remember that one? The government was shut down, and it took weeks to dig out. Come March, we had our first glorious day of spring. Daffodils, forsythia, warm sun. A less seasoned announcer would have rattled on and on about the weather. But a colleague of mine (I wish it had been me) opened the mic and out came this one sentence:
“Dear Mother Nature, all is forgiven.” What more could be said? We all got it.
Years later, a co-worker shared with me a quote from Harvey Mackay. Mackay is the author of Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt. This quote is also used in an article titled “Use your ads to your advantage,” which features 8 rules to avoid the pitfalls of bad advertising. Rule number two says it all:
“…sell [with] tiny words, and as few of them as possible…effective advertising isn’t about products. It’s all about the benefits people get from the product.” People don’t want a bar of soap. They want clean hands.
So how effective can a “tiny words” campaign be? You tell me. Here are some extremely successful marketing campaigns that are remarkably compact. I bet you can immediately tell who the advertiser is:
- Just Do it!
- 15 Minutes Can Save You 15% or more on car insurance!
- You’re In Good Hands
- When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight
- Got Milk?
- Where’s the Beef?
Companies and business owners can easily fall into the trap of trying to stuff too many features into their marketing. It’s natural. They want to tell you everything. But they need to resist that urge.
Instead of starting off listing features your business offers, begin by focusing on the benefit to the consumer. Remember, your target isn’t looking for soap; the benefit they seek is clean hands. Keep the message concise. Use tiny words and short phrases. You will often find that just a short 10 second commercial message may be more than enough to distinguish your organization or brand.
If you found this article interesting and helpful, listed below are other articles you might like about advertising and creating marketing messages. In addition, the best way to develop a powerful “tiny words” campaign is through an effective brainstorming session. Click on the link below to download our 3 Step Guide to Effective Brainstorming for Marketers. Enjoy!