The more important your message, the less you should say

10018943 My daughter will be 16 next summer.  Which means she sends a lot of text messages.  It also means I send a lot of text messages.  When in Rome…

One truth I have discovered is that even in that abbreviated medium, it’s easy to be long-winded. 

For every sentence I text, her retention and response gets shorter.  The briefer I am, the more attention she pays and the more importance she seems to assign to my message.

If I really want an answer to a specific question or really want her to hear me about something, I use a single sentence.  Then, I get her full attention.

Boy, is there a marketing lesson in that.

The more copy you use to deliver your messages…the less important they seem.  The more messages you shove into a single ad, blog post or brochure — the more likely your big message will be lost in the blur.

When it really matters….say less.

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22 comments on “The more important your message, the less you should say

  1. My signature on my Iphone is “sent with brevity.” When my now 12 year old was about 4 he looked at me after a lengthy set of instructions and said “can’t you just say it short,mommy. Short works.

  2. Stevieboy66 says:

    When I was at school I was know as “The Waffler” for using 300 words when 30 would do. This had a lasting impact on me as now if I start with 300 words I will look to get it down to 30. It’s a fascinating process trimming and retrimming. It seems that no matter how many times you trim back, you can do it again and again. And with each pass, the piece that you have written takes on a slightly different emphasis and seems to hold more authority.

    With a bit of luck, by the time you get to 30 words, it can be quite “guru” like. Some people are lucky enough to hit this first time of course.

    (You should have seen how long this comment was before I trimmed….)

  3. BCoelho2000 says:

    Absolutely true!

    This is why most mission statements of many companies fail: in the middle of lots of words is hard to find their mission.

    Take Nike great costumer slogan: “Just Do It”. It’s 3 words to describe why customers should buy from Nike’.

    Your advice is also true for an employee to answer the question: “Why do you work here?”

    The answer to this question is what Guy Kawasaki call a mantra. A mantra is the answer to the question “Why do you work here?”.

    Nike’s mantra could be: Authentic Athletic Performance.

    Every presentation should have your advice in mind.

    You should keep you text to the minimum so your audience can focus on you and your message.

    Because when you use lots of text the audience starts reading it. And when they are reading they aren’t listening to you. Game over.

    Thank you for your insightful post.

  4. Stevieboy66 says:

    “Because when you use lots of text the audience starts reading it. And when they are reading they aren’t listening to you. Game over.”

    I love that line. Thanks.

  5. Karin H. says:

    As long a the important short message still contains a proper call for action I agree.

    A friend of mine just cut-off half of one of my follow-up messages for AWeber, which brought the call for action in much better perspective to the rest of the (remaining) message.

    Ah, the pleasure of fine-tuning marketing messages 😉

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  6. I would love to add..

    “and when it doesn’t really matter, say nothing”..

  7. BCoelho2000 says:

    Quote: Richard Millington

    I would love to add..

    “and when it doesn’t really matter, say nothing”..

    Just remembered the Nespresso tv ad: “Nespresso, what else?”

  8. My daughter told me (in typical teen-tone), “Dad, it’s a ‘text message’ not a ‘text book.'” *roll eyes*

    So, I shut my mouth and walked away. Later to text her:

    “luv u”

    Great Post!

  9. Jay Heyman says:

    Enough said.
    Except perhaps for this link
    which may set a record for shortest blog post ever.

  10. Susan Oakes says:

    Learning about marketing and advertising I was taught – keep it simple and single minded. It is still true today.

  11. Katybeth —

    “Sent with brevity.” Love it! And I think your son is probably a genius.


  12. Steve,

    It’s a painful lesson but insightful, I agree. Thanks for the chuckle!


  13. B —

    Say what you need to say. And not a word more is probably a catch phrase we should all work a little harder to internalize!


  14. B —

    I think it requires confidence to stop talking…like the Nespresso slogan. You don’t say that if you aren’t sure.


  15. Andrew,

    I suspect our daughters could be great friends! 🙂


  16. Susan,

    So easy to say, so hard to do. But a vital lesson for all of us!


  17. I love the post and the comments. Which begs the question, why did I get a 19-page newsletter from marketing geniuses Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer on their upcoming SuperConference? Really, I’m either sold or not sold after about 3 pages.

  18. Grace Boyle says:

    Think about the power of Twitter and we only have 140 character spaces to present our message. I agree, “when it really matters….say less.”

  19. GirlPie says:

    Swell post on a smart lesson — Seth just wrote on this point today in his “HEADLINES” post, it makes you think of all the ways you telegraph your own headline.

    And it was in a short twitter sentence that I was introduced to this post, and now this blog — Yay for short! (I should practice what I preach in my comments, but ~ !)


  20. Dorothy,

    From what I know about Dan and Bill’s teachings, it is definitely a long copy form of marketing.

    I have often wondered the same thing. Sometimes, it’s just too much.


  21. Grace,

    Do you think most marketing messages can be conveyed that concisely?

    It would be an interesting experiment!


  22. That damn Seth — always copying my work! 🙂


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