Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just the facts, ma'am

Marketing guru David Ogilvy once said, "The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be." This applies to pretty much any form of persuasive communications, and is the antidote to two very common errors in business-to-business communications.

The first error, and the advertising and marketing pros are often more guilty of this than anyone, is relying on clever language rather than clear, straightforward language to get the audience’s attention. Studies have shown that cleverness sometimes works, but clarity always does (other things being equal).

The second mistake is to substitute hype and hyperbole for actual information. This is especially problematic in today’s information age, when advertising claims will be Googled to check for accuracy, and the second generation of TV watchers is generally wise to misleading advertising tactics (think of the “Target Market” campaign).

The clear vs. clever rule is especially applicable to headlines, where the temptation to be clever is strongest. Nothing will get your audience to continue reading that a clear headline that allows them to self-identify and anticipate a benefit (see my earlier posting on “Ad Headlines”).

Use clear statements of fact (or opinion, for that matter, as long as its clear) to describe your products or services and you’ll do a lot better in the long run.

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