Battling Through the Message Clutter—3 Tactics to Add to Your Advertising Arsenal

Let’s face it-people don’t go out of their way to pay attention to advertising. They don’t slow down on the highway to read a billboard about root canal or Ti-Vo shows so they can watch a foot cream advertisement over and over again. They have far better things to do with their time, and today’s technology has made it easier than ever to bypass the 3,000-some messages the average person encounters every day. So why should your message be any different? What makes your message so superior that it becomes that single-most important message your target consumer can’t afford to miss? Give me a dozen good answers to that question and I’ll tell you the one reason that refutes them all—your message is just plain mediocre.

Think about it. How many really great ads can you recall off the top of your head? Three, maybe five tops? I can only think of one I’d say was distinctly superior. It’s a 2009, 60-second commercial for Bacardi Mojitos with only a single line of voiceover; no high-status celebrities, no testimonials of how great the product is, not even an obvious call-to-action that blatantly tells you to get up and pour a Mojito. It’s just a unique ad with a catchy tune and a subtle message that resonates with its viewers. It’s perfect. (See for yourself at

Now I know what you’re thinking… “I don’t have the funds or the means to produce a nationally televised commercial like multi-billion-dollar companies can. I’m just a small business with something to say”. Fear not, my friend. It’s not the big marketing budget that sells the product—it’s how the message connects with the consumer. Add these simple tips to your arsenal and you are well on your way to battling through the message clutter:

1. KISS.
Keep It Simple, Stupid. I know, it sounds a bit harsh, but this little acronym is among the most well-known in the advertising business. I said it once and I will say it again– people aren’t particularly fond of advertising. It’s intrusive and invasive and consumers don’t have the time to sit around and decipher what you are trying to communicate. Needless to say, if your ad does happen to catch someone’s eye, it probably won’t hold its attention long. If your ad is a paragraph of copy with tons of busy pictures, all of which are needed to get the point across, chances are your consumer will read 3 words or perhaps glance at a picture before giving up and walking away. Instead, a good rule of thumb is 7 words or less. The average person can read seven words on a billboard as they pass by and it’s the lucky number of items in a list psychologists suggest people can recall (you may think I’m pulling your leg, but try to recall all of the famous 7 Dwarves and you will know what I mean). A single picture usually does the trick as well. Too much color or graphics can be distracting from the point or conflict with your message altogether. However, don’t chop and cut away from your ad just for the sake of “keeping it simple”. There is such a thing as too simple… I like to call it boring. Your ad has to have something that reaches out, grabs the consumer, and tells them you’ve got something they need to hear. This brings me to my next point…

There you have it, the first and most basic tactic in creating great advertisements. Stay tuned for more battle strategies next week!


There are no comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: