The best marketing messages are simple. They are easy to understand and easy to remember, and the ideas embodied in them affect the reader or listener on a basic emotional level.
The same can be said for any message.
The strength of a simple message is in its clarity. The reader or listener grasps the message on its face, without explanation or documentation, and without delay. It says what it means and it means what it says.
Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Do not write merely to be understood. Write so you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”
But how does one do that?
Ultimately, this is a function of the writer’s or speaker’s understanding of the essence of the message and their ability to communicate it. In other words, it takes some skill and effort. But there’s a lot you can do to make your message simpler, clearer, and more effective, even if you’re not (yet) a great writer.
Make your message about fewer ideas
Include a few key points in your message, not everything you could say on the subject. This is true no matter who your audience is, but even more so for a lawyer seeking to influence lay people.
Spare the details. Don’t write pages when paragraphs will do. See if you can convey the same idea in a sentence or two.
Most people want no more than the bottom line and a fact or two that supports it. You should have additional information available, however, for those who want it. On your website, for example, put your message on the home page; provide links to the details for those who want to drill down to get them.
Write at a fourth grade level
You want your message to go from the page or the lectern to the recipient’s brain at the speed of thought. You don’t want anything slowing it down. So use shorter paragraphs and sentences, and simpler words. “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do,” Mark Twain told us.
No matter how effective your message is, it will be more effective if it is repeated often. Repetition helps people understand, accept, and remember your message. It is key to earning their trust and their business.
Think of your message as a campaign speech, if that helps. You address the same handful of ideas and repeat them over and over again, to new crowds and to your die-hard supporters alike.
Repetition makes your message stronger and affects people at a deeper level. The first time they hear it, they may be critical and doubtful. After they’ve heard it several times, they are better able understand and accept the message. Eventually, after they’ve heard your message repeatedly, they can remember it and articulate it to others.
And that’s what you want.
You want your clients and prospects, friends and followers, to know what you stand for and what you promise, and you want them to easily share that message with others.
Need help crafting an effective marketing message? Try this