Think One

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
– Leo Burnett

In the last post I discussed the need for space, white space, in marketing communications. But how do you reduce clutter and create more white space?

The best way is to keep clutter at bay from the outset.

While working on some ads a year or so ago, I was reminded of the power of a single, meaningful image. One thoughtfully selected photo or graphic can do a lot of the work of getting attention and telling the story. Think one image.

Accompanying that one image, add one clear, compelling headline. The headline might comment or expand on the image. But the headline shouldn’t mirror the image. Rather, it should complement the visual. Think one headline.

I’m not suggesting ads and other marketing communications have to be limited to one image and one headline. But they often can be — especially in ads — which allows for a focused message that’s executed without unnecessary distractions and detours.

The Joy of White Space

While leafing through an issue of BtoB, I once found a Chasers column entitled, “Give me some space, please.”

It read, in part:

Clutter in an ad is more than a nuisance; it can be enough of a distraction to drive a reader from the page. Advertisers are justifiably proud of their product or service and are eager to tell a target audience about it.

But they need to resist the temptation to say too much or to display too much in an ad. Let the ad breathe a bit. An extra dose of white space can often make the difference between an ad that overwhelms readers with clutter and one that connects with them.

I think most would agree that white space is a good thing. But clutter happens — even with the best of marketing intentions. With the cost of producing, placing and delivering marketing communications, it’s common to want to cram more into each piece.

Continue reading “The Joy of White Space”

Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Messaging

“All-purpose ads serve all purposes poorly,” columnist Bob Donath once wrote in Marketing News.

The columnist cited a technology company marketing director who produced a slick new ad campaign designed to increase inquiries and Web site traffic. The ads — with identical headlines and copy — were placed in three different trade publications.

As you might guess, the campaign didn’t increase response.

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Too Many Ideas Syndrome

I read about Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS) in a special creativity issue of Writer’s Digest.

“You don’t hear much about TMIS because complaining about being too creative is like complaining about being on The New York Times bestseller list too often,” wrote Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant.

Still, anyone who has felt paralyzed by having too many ideas (including questionable or just plain bad ones) can relate to the concept. I know I can.

Actually, having a lot of ideas is good. It beats the alternative. But whether you’re writing an ad, article, or book, you have to choose an idea and move out. Commitment is a scary thing.

Continue reading “Too Many Ideas Syndrome”

The Soul of Advertising

“Whatever is common is despised. Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.”

Englishman Samuel Johnson wrote the above words in his magazine, The Idler, on January 20, 1759. And yet it could have been written yesterday.

Then Johnson wrote, “Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement,”

Johnson’s quote got me thinking about advertising — both its promise and pitfalls.

Continue reading “The Soul of Advertising”

Pump Up Your Marketing Communications

Imagine a fitness guru who designed a workout program for you that requires just one repetition per exercise. One pushup. One crunch. One stretch.

Crazy, right? No one would tone up with that.

It’s the same with marketing communications. You need a lot of reps (frequency is the common term) if you want to build up your marketing muscle. Think multiple emails, multiple ads, multiple newsletters.

It’s not glamorous, but it’s what works.

10 Tips for Good Creative in Bad Times

Jim Castanzo of Godfrey’s B2B Insights Blog offered 10 solid tips for producing effective creative during a downturn. Here’s his list:

1. Make your message relevant.

2. Speak as an authority.

3. Conduct research.

4. Speak directly to them [audience].

5. Sell benefits, not features.

6. Integrate [message across all media].

7. Demonstrate. [Using smart visuals.]

8. Perform a competitive analysis.

9. Be genuine.

10. Think different.

As Jim points out, there’s nothing new here. But in bad times the basics are more important than ever.