The average Indian is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. That’s a staggering number and yet ask yourself, how many of them do you actually remember? Likely not many. Our brains are bombarded with information every second. Think about a simple drive to the grocery store. The moment you hit the road you’re taking into account oncoming traffic, pedestrians, stop signs, cross walks, passing cars and merging cars all at the same time. The way the brain protects itself from being overloaded is what’s called Selective Attention. It’s a way for us to focus our attention to the immediately important elements and forget or blur out the rest.
Now add on the layer that’s advertising and imagine even more stimuli vying to get your attention. If you manage to grab a person’s attention, even for a brief moment, the last thing you’d want to do is confuse them.
You’re probably asking yourself “How am I confusing them? I’ve got a beautiful looking ad that communicates the features and services of my business. The visuals grab their attention and when they read the text, they’ll know we’re the company for them.” The problem with that is, let’s face it, we don’t really read ads. I mean unless we’re sitting on a bus or doing competitive research, most of us just scan. We scan the page and use our selective attention to find what we should focus on and forget the rest. We’re aware of the additional elements and get an impression from them, but they’re not our focus.
So now that we know we’ve only got a few seconds to grab a potential customer’s attention and that they won’t actually read most of our text, what are the ways we’re confusing them with the limited time we do have? Let’s find out.
- Overuse of Industry Jargon
If you’ve started a business, it’s safe to assume you’re an expert in that field. The confusion starts to happen when you attempt to communicate at your level of expertise to a potential customer who makes purchase decisions at a level far lower than yours. You may be thinking “Well my target audience will know what I’m talking about.” They might, but most are only thinking “Can this help me solve my problem?” If you aren’t answering that question simply and quickly, you risk confusing them and ultimately lose them.
The body copy of this website is like a wall of text. It’s rare someone will read the entire thing and when they do, it’s filled with confusing industry jargon.
Most customers want to skip all the details and get to the bottom line so give them what they want. You may be tempted to craft a beautiful headline like “Where value and necessity generate opportunity.” Yes, it sounds great but does it actually mean anything to the reader? If you’ve only got a few seconds, don’t waste it on fluff. Use simple conversational language to quickly get your point across.
Most customers want to skip all the details and get to the bottom line so give them what they want.
Going back to my example, instead of having an ad with a headline that states “Mortgage Lending Lives Here. Where value and necessity generate opportunity.” Take a simple straightforward approach and state “Providing you mortgage lending options to achieve your dreams of home ownership.”
In that single line you’ve identified the customer, a person who wants to own a home and what you offer, mortgage lending options. Maybe it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour but the reader won’t walk away feeling confused.
- Your Message and Design are Giving Conflicting Impressions.
You may have spent thousands on your logo and love your attention grabbing color of bright red but the reality is you’re a financial planner. Your designs may grab a viewer’s attention with beautiful visuals and bold colors but what impression is that really giving off? Red is an aggressive color and financial decisions are scary for most people so they’d prefer to feel calm and at ease.
The complex background, borders around blocks of text and buttons positioned close together give an impression of tightness and suffocation. The bold red color grabs attention but doesn’t communicate a feeling of ease, calm and security. Definitely not “simple.”
Imagine an image of a businessman looking at a stack of papers next to a calculator. Technically an image like this aligns with a financial theme but the image could also make the viewer feel overwhelmed that the process is going to have a lot of paperwork and this “suit” is going to take advantage of them because the customer isn’t well informed.
Now consider a headline overlaying that very same image stating “Our award winning experts handle your tough financial tasks.” On the surface, it reads great and communicates value “handle your tough financial tasks” but looking closer, it places the word “tough” right next to “financial.” Now combine that with a background image of a suit looking at a stack of papers and a calculator. It’s not exactly the calm, safe and easy impression you probably wan’t to give but rather gives an impression of being difficult (tough + financial) and overwhelming (stack of papers + businessman).
When thinking of your website design, flyer, or ad, think of the emotional impact each element communicates. From the paper to the ink and from the copy to the colors and the images. Most consumers buy from an emotional place and failing to speak to those emotions, or speaking to them the wrong way, could be confusing your customers and turn them away.
When thinking of your website design, flyer, or ad, think of the emotional impact each element communicates.
- You Haven’t Taken a Stand or If You Have, You Aren’t Backing It Up.
Several brands fall into the trap of having a great looking logo and marketing collateral but no depth. There is nothing of substance for a customer to grab onto and decide whether to stand with you or against you. Instead they’re in limbo with your brand. Not knowing if you share the same values or care about the same things.
Even the employees, if you ask 3 of them what the mission of the company is and where they fit into that mission, you’ll likely get 3 different answers. Some may even be “I don’t know.”
How many brands have you seen out there that state “customer service is our #1 priority” but you go to their website to file a complaint on a defective product and there’s no easy way to do it? We’ve also all encountered calling a company’s toll-free number only to be welcomed by a carousel of robots followed by another carousel of representatives that don’t have the authority to resolve your issue.
How many brands have you seen out there that state “customer service is our #1 priority” but you go to their website to file a complaint on a defective product and there’s no easy way to do it?
If your business doesn’t have the technology or infrastructure for awesome customer service then don’t put it out there. Instead highlight and focus on the areas you know you do well. Take that one thing and own it. Create your mission statement with it and ingrain that into your employees minds through repetition. If you’re that financial planner and you’ve got a great framework of how to create a plan for your clients that’s simple to understand then highlight that. Revolve your marketing around that single focus as opposed to saying 10 things that are mediocre or so-so. You can always create additional campaigns for your other services later. Once you’re known for being the go-to for a financial plan framework.
Conclusion: The Bottom Line
A quick glance at this website you understand exactly what they do…bookkeeping. There’s a single focus in their messaging and their imagery supports exactly what the copy is saying.
In the Information Age, where data has now surpassed gold in value. We’re all vying for the attention of our customers and once we’re lucky enough to gain that attention, let’s captivate them with a simple and clear brand message. If you’re in a saturated market where everyone is doing the same thing, clarifying your message could be the differentiator you need to gain market share. Instead of your customers saying to themselves “Wow, they must really know their stuff and what a smooth headline and cool layout too. They must’ve really spent a lot on that.” Make them think “Yes, they know exactly how I feel and I need them to help me solve my problem.”
We’re all vying for the attention of our customers and once we’re lucky enough to gain that attention, let’s captivate them with a simple and clear brand message.
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