We all know there’s no shortage of advertising messages. If there’s the remotest possibility of a captive audience, there’s a message. Maybe you’ve been surprised when you lowered the tray table at your airplane seat to find an ad or have seen one when you closed the bathroom stall door. Like I said, captive audience and all.
Some studies have indicated we’re exposed to 250 ads per day, which works out to about 14 per waking hour. Actually, that seems low to me. At times, I feel like I’m exposed to 14 per minute, and I would guess that you agree. The more exposure we get, the better we become at tuning out. All the great “free” stuff on the Internet and the free downloadable apps are driven by ads… just as broadcasting has always been. Compounding that is the fact that messages have to be seen about a half dozen times before they’re remembered… before they stick.
Getting your message seen is only the first hurdle. Once you hook ‘em, you gotta keep ‘em, and that’s where clarity plays a critical part. If your message is confusing, your audience is going to tune out. A study was done involving kids and the show, Sesame Street. The show, of course, features a lot of engaging characters and lots of colors, animation and movement – all the things kids love. However, it turns out that those factors were not guaranteed to captivate young viewers. Kids weren’t simply sitting and watching; they were watching selectively. They watched and absorbed and were engaged in the message when they understood it, but when the message became confusing, they became distracted. And the toys in the room got their attention rather than what was happening on the screen. When they regained understanding of the show’s message, attention shifted again… away from the toys and back to Sesame Street.
Unlike the kids in the study, your audience isn’t captive. If you lose them with a confusing message, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get them back. If they get confused, they’re going to go somewhere else and go quickly. Your efforts go down the drain. In order to stick, your message has to be clear, whether it’s a marketing message, a policy or a letter to your staff. If you’re doing the writing, make certain that you are not too close to the subject matter, or you can easily lose objectivity. Yes, you know what you mean and what you want to say, but does your audience?
Editors and copywriters can be worth their weight in gold in providing an objective point of view regarding your message. Why not contact me( firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-769-8897), so we can work on your content together to be certain it’s crystal clear and that it sticks.