KISS it and make it better. Photo: Hey Paul Studios
KISS it and make it better.
Photo: Hey Paul Studios

When messaging, simplicity rules.

The KISS principle applies to messaging and also to most things we do in life. But when we create outbound communications, there exists a habit to “kitchen-sink” the information. We become adamant in our attempt to tell the marketplace everything about our business and its products in the nanosecond we have to catch and hold attention.

The results of this isn’t just the marketplace scratching their heads in confusion. The result is more dire than that. It’s that the market quickly moves on to something that more clearly defines and meets their needs. And that means your competition.

So here are some steps you can take to cut through the noise.

Rule #1: Simplicity Rules.
Segment your messages into easily digestible bits. One exercise that allows you to do this is to describe your offering’s key benefit in a single simple sentence. Just one. Then to round out or add to the message, add in one more short, simple sentence. Then another. What you’re doing here is creating a hierarchy of information to expand or contract as needed.

Yep. This will do. Photo: U.S. Forest Service
Yep. This will do.
Photo: U.S. Forest Service

Rule #2: Edit with a Chainsaw
Take out every buzz word, every cliche, every word that isn’t clear and simple. Don’t try to be cute with your writing, or funny, or witty. Just strive for clarity. Strip down your copy. I can assure you that your draft 1 work is way too wordy and complicated. It almost always is. Plus, we all have a tendency to fall into our own industry speak.

Rule #3: Meet Needs.
Match every concept to an actual market need. Now, this isn’t easy to do. A market need doesn’t exist just because you think it does. If it did, 100% of new businesses would succeed. It exists only when you convert prospects into customers, and you understand the mechanisms that allowed that to happen.

Rule #4: Differentiate.
Alter your messages based upon the needs of each specific marketplace. A damaging messaging mistake is putting a stake in the ground and never realizing when to remove it. You’ll need to use common sense here and make sure you’re shifting your messaging to match what’s important to the audience. As a simple example, let’s say you’re marketing your restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The benefits of each is different. Breakfast = quick service. Lunch = great value that include healthy selections. Dinner = ambience and a great wine list.

Very Freaky
Very Freaky
Photo: Scott Wylie

Rule #5: If You’re Freaky, Let Your Freak Flag Fly.
This is 2014. Don’t be afraid of being different in what you’re saying, and how you’re saying it. The same-old, same-old is mind-numbingly boring to your prospects. You can do something bold and different if you want your product to stand out.

Do this, and will the marketplace absolutely beat a path to your door? I wish I could say it were that simple. But ignore these rules entirely, you’re ensuring a lackluster performance from your website, your outbound communications, and all of your market-facing initiatives.

Want more insight on messaging? Read Tough Love on Messaging.