One Piece of Carry-On

I spend a lot of time working with business owners on the most persuasive way to tell their stories. One of the most common desires I encounter is the desire to talk about everything in the commercial.

It’s physically possible to talk about four different things in the same commercial. And give an address, web site, and phone number, too. As long as you don’t mind that your customers and prospects won’t remember anything about your message once the commercial’s over.

For 14 years, I’ve tried a variety of ways to convince my customers that keeping their messages simple will make them more memorable. This week, I’m going to borrow an image from Bill Schley.

Schley, author of “Why Johnny Can’t Brand”, and the forthcoming “The Micro-Script Rules”, was interviewed recently by Jim Doyle for his coaching program. In making an argument for simplicity in message, he used an image from the airline business:

One piece of carry-on.

Passengers boarding an airplane are allowed to carry on one piece of luggage. That piece must be small enough to fit in the overhead bin above the seat.

Schley says that your prospects, when they hear or see your ad, have the ability to retain one, and only one, piece of information. The customer’s mind is the “overhead bin”. The object of your commercial is to get the customer to place it in the overhead bin, and then act on it by  doing business with you,  repeating it to others, or both.

Stuff too much information into your commercial, and the message won’t stay in the overhead bin long enough for your prospect to pull it back out again.


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One thought on “One Piece of Carry-On

  1. I LOVE this visual. So easy to relate to.

    I’m at a trade show this week, and experiencing a microcosm of this very principle. Exhibitors want to cram every possible benefit on their banners and signage. Attendees just want one good reason to pause at your booth. Somehow business owners continue to overlook this extensively proven fact that cramming your copy only confuses the customer.