Way, way back when I was an architecture undergrad at Yale, there was a gal in my class who talked a LOT in her presentations.
She used long sentences and big jargon-y words (we all did to try to sound smart, but she’s beat us hands down.)
She was well known for her “verbal diarrhea” (sorry, it was college!)
It’s nothing personal. Like all Yalies, she’s a smart cookie. But she did lose me 75% of the time, and that’s a shame.
No matter how awesome your stuff is, it does you no good if you can’t tell the world about it.
When you get down to the purpose of communication, it’s to GET YOUR POINT THROUGH.
Which means, if you get too convoluted in your communication you’re going to lose your audience. When your audience gets lost, you don’t get your point through and they don’t understand you have good stuff for them. No Buenos.
While we are at it, let me throw another architecture quote at you:
Less is More
~ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
(I find it pretty ironic that his name is longer than the quote)
Fast forward to now…
I see a lot of “verbal diarrhea” in most marketing communications – websites and whatnots.
I’m guilty too. I was looking at my website homepage the other day, and I thought – what exactly do I want to communicate? If I were a first-time visitor, would I know what to do?
When I redesigned the homepage, it started out with a pretty clear objective. As time went by, I read an article here and listened to a webinar there, I thought – hey maybe I should tell people A and B, and I probably should put a link for Y and Z.
So I added A and B and Y and Z – and the homepage got mucky.
It’s not because I didn’t know Keep It Simple Sunshine is a usually a good thing – I challenge my clients to do that all the time.
It’s because I am human, and I have FOMO (fear of missing out)
Many times when I come across a “tip” or “tactic” I have the urge to add it to my marketing communication so I can tell myself I got all the ground covered and I am pulling all the strings.
Not for the sake of my audience. But for the selfish reason of pacifying my FOMO…
Forgetting that if I pull all the strings and they go in opposite directions, they would cancel out the effect of each other!
Last week, I decided to rip the Band-Aid, stop the patchwork and walk my talk.
Back to basics – what do I want the homepage to do for my business?
I dumped out a bunch of “verbal diarrhea” and pared the content down to three chunks:
(1) Grow a bigger platform through list building – big CTA to sign up for my freebie as the only item above the fold and the first thing visitors see.
(2) Showcase my thought leadership through content – (a) a rotator featuring “cream of the crop” blog posts and (b) a rotator showing websites in which my articles have been featured as social proof.
(3) Client testimonials – I am not hoping people will jump on and work with me on their first visit after seeing a few testimonials, yet social proof and credibility are essential components to draw visitors in to explore and engage, enhancing #1 and #2.
3 Simple Words for FOMO Prevention:
Clarity + Discernment + Discipline
FOMO can creep up everywhere in our communications – from website to brochures to presentations.
You need a powerful filter so you can stay focused and get the point through.
- Clarity – what do you want this piece of communication to achieve? What’s the best way to get the point through?
- Discernment – simple, chuck whatever that don’t answer the questions above.
- Discipline – it’s easier said than done when it comes to “chucking” stuff. Now you have the awareness, you need to train your Discipline muscle so you can execute your discernment and free your communications from FOMO.
Theory is cheap… here’s how to stay focused when you write for these common webpages:
What’s the primary objective to support your business at the moment? Building your list? Creating an authority positioning? Showcasing your work? Launching your book? Promoting a webinar?
What’s the secondary objective?
What’s the MINIMUM amount of content, links or calls-to-action needed to support your primarily and secondary objectives?
When you put too many choices on the page, your visitors will be confused. And the confused mind says “no”.
Is your Call-To-Action that supports your primary objective loud and clear? Or has it disappeared into a sea of content? If everything is screaming, nothing can be heard.
Your about page is not really about you. Your readers don’t care about your entire life story unless it is relevant to why and how you can help them.
Typically, your about page needs to (1) build a personal and emotional bridge so your readers can connect with YOU and trust you; and (2) share your experience to illustrate why you are qualified to help them and how you can do so.
Your about page needs to answer the question – why are YOU, as a PERSON, relevant to helping ME solve my problem?
Just listing out your trainings and certifications is not enough – what’s your journey? What’s your unique point of view that would make me want to work with you rather than the next gal?
Your blog on your business website is not your personal journal. Write your articles with an objective in mind.
One big idea per article, one call-to-action per article.
What do you want the article to achieve for your business? What call-to-action will help you achieve this result?
Who are you writing for, and what do they need to know to take the intended action?
If you have the tendency to ramble, have the discipline to read and re-read your articles, and DELETE anything not essential to getting the point through. (note: read and re-read, but don’t get stuck in perfectionism. You need to hit that “publish” button.)
Run-on sentences? Break them down into 2-3 smaller chunks. Big jargon-y words? Find a plain English alternative.
Run your content through a readability score tool (like this one) – a 7th grader should be able to comprehend your article.
(Want more on Blogging for Business Growth? Check this out.)
Stop FOMO from driving your marketing communications:
Clarity – know your message, how it applies to your audience, and how to position it to get the point through
Awareness – catch yourself when you are having a verbal diarrhea, and admit it
Discernment – realize what is not in alignment, what is extraneous to getting the point through
Discipline – have the guts to not yield to FOMO and cut out what doesn’t serve the purpose of the communication
>> Grab this “How to Design YOUR Winning Formula” free training to get clear on your message, find the words that matters so you can trim the fat:
Ling is an Intuitive Brainiac. Through her unique blend of Business + Marketing coaching with a Mindset + Psychic Twist, she helps the multi-talented and multi-passionate maverick solo-entrepreneurs distill ALL their big ideas into ONE cohesive Message, nail the WORDS that sell and design a Plan to cut the busywork and do what matters, through her intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years of experience in the online marketing industry.
Ling helps her clients optimize the space between individuality + originality vs. “tried-and-true” marketing so they can express their WHY unapologetically and profitably without reinventing the wheel.
Find Ling and grab her free “How to Find YOUR Winning Formula” Training Series here.