Why You Can’t “Ease Into The Advertising” Anymore

Is anyone still paying attention?

addicted to smartphones

Photo by Kaspars Grinvalds /dpc

A while back, I met with the Marketing Director of a home improvement company in Texas. The company had been around for two decades. For most of that time, they’d had great success with an image campaign. Sales had been good, and customers mentioned how much they liked the commercials as they filled out the paperwork.

A few years ago, that started to change. Response to their messages had taken a huge drop. Showroom traffic was down, sales were down. The economy hadn’t helped, but even when it came back up the numbers had hardly budged.

They showed me a recent commercial they had done for windows. For 20 seconds, as pretty guitar music played, the screen showed kids in a backyard, playing in the leaves. The camera slowly panned back back to show that we were looking through a window.

Eventually the store logo and address showed up, and a pleasant voice came on with a slogan — “Windows never looked so good. Life never looked so good. We’re at [location]. Don’t forget to ask about our Best Value Guarantee.”

Fade to black. Commercial over.

After a moment, I asked the client: “Does anyone ever ask about your Best Value Guarantee?”

“No, she said.”

She was baffled. Her strategy had been successful for nearly two decades. What had changed?

[bctt tweet=”In the Age of the Smartphone, marketing fluff is deadly. Make your advertising a fluff-free zone.”]

The answer may involve the way we now process information. In 2010 the New York Times ran a series of articles called “Your Brain on Computers”, detailing the effect of information overload on our thinking process.

One installment discussed the effect of multitasking — working with multiple screens delivering a constant stream of information:

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.

And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.

“The technology is rewiring our brains,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists.

In the five years since that article appeared, it is likely that the problem has gotten significantly worse.

In 2010, approximately 17% of Americans had smartphones. Pew Research Center reported in April that the number is now 64%.

What do you do about this? How do you generate results in the age of digitally-rewired brains?

* Get to the point fast. Nobody’s going to stick around while you “ease into it.”

* Offer a direct, measurable benefit that comes when they do business with you. It’s not enough to make your target feel good about your brand.

* Tell your prospects exactly what they should do. Pick one action you want your prospects to take, and tell them — explicitly — to take it.

* Offer a reward to take the action, and include a deadline. Make the deadline specific. “This deal ends Friday at 8pm” is much more powerful than “Hurry, this offer ends soon.”

Here’s one way to make sure that your message opens on a strong note. I learned it years ago at a Dan O’Day copywriting seminar:

  1. Write your script, and go through your standard editing process.
  2. Delete the first sentence.
  3. Does the message still work? If it does, leave the first sentence out and begin the commercial with Sentence 2.

It’s amazing how often the first sentence of the script turns out to be unnecessary fluff.

In the Age of the Smartphone, marketing fluff is deadly. Make your advertising a fluff-free zone.

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