Cutting Through

Those of us who communicate for a living send and receive a massive amount of messages each day. Whether we are communicating on a one-to-one basis, reaching out to a targeted audience via direct mail or email, sharing content via social media or transmitting to a general audience via mass media, we need to ensure that our messages are seen or heard.

It’s hard to be sure that your message has connected. But there are a few things you can do to improve your chances.

  1. Edit. My lifelong mantra. Whether you are sending your message via social media, email, snail mail, mass media or the side of a blimp, get to the point. Attention spans keep getting shorter.
  2. Make email subject lines easy to understand and consume. If you’re sending news about something in St. Louis to a St. Louis media outlet, include “St. Louis” in your subject line.
  3. Write headlines and sub-headers that reflect your content quickly, accurately and compellingly. You can be creative, cute and clever with your headlines occasionally, but if you do it every time, it can distract from your message.
  4. Use visuals. I don’t put photos on individual posts on this blog, but for much web content and print media, a picture can be worth, well, a thousand words. Be sure your images don’t overpower the printed message.
  5. Deliver your message in a different medium or format. If you normally connect via email, try text messaging. If you normally advertise via a newspaper ad, try a billboard. If a prospect isn’t responding to your phone messages, send a handwritten note by mail or have a gift delivered (food, flowers, booze, etc.).
  6. Be different in your message content, but not that different. A different point of view, a different layout, a different font, a different color, a different illustration. You don’t want to be weird enough to turn message recipients off, but different enough to arouse their interest. Humor can help. Insurance is a dull subject, but TV campaigns for Geico, Allstate, Progressive, State Farm and others have delivered smiles and sales.

Cutting through the large volume of messages is not easy. But keep trying.

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