Try to say everything and say nothing at all.

Jul 22, 2019, Written by Rachel Miley

If you try to say everything, you say nothing at all.

This is a phrase I adopted as my marketing motto early on in my career.

My co-workers joked that I needed to get it tatoo-ed somewhere.

As I worked on projects and print pieces, I felt a tension of effectiveness.

Decision makers in the divisions of my company felt the pressure to communicate all the information available. I think their thought process was that if they used more words, it would slowly convince people to be interested in what they were trying to promote. They fully believed in our services and thought that others would too if they just had all of the information. However, from a marketing perspective I consistently felt like we were digging our own grave.

When a consumer is interested, passionate or invested in something, it won’t take much convincing to dive deeper. They are naturally more motivated to take a step forward for more information.

If a consumer has no interest in what you have to offer, then they are likely not your target audience anyway.

You are spending far more time and resources trying to convince them that maybe they should be interested in your pitch. Additionally, you may be having the opposite effect. Bombarding them with information they aren’t ready for, or don’t want, may create a negative association with your brand.

Why saying less is actually more.

I feel for you, marketers. There are an uncountable number of best practices, communications guidelines, and contradictory research reports. How are we to navigate what works for our business or defend our position to anxious owners and managers? How much information is too much or too little?

I have a winner of an answer- TEST. More on that in a minute.

But you have to have a reason to test a strategy. So here are a few reasons why saying less is actually more, and how it’s worth your time to try it.

Consumer burn-out is real. Over-using your communication mediums (email, website, social media, direct mail, and all the other channels) burns out your current and potential customers. Even if they don’t unsubscribe or unfollow, they stop listening. Think about your own user behavior. How do you respond to a strong influx of information from different brands? Pay attention to your company analytics- open rates, post engagement, etc. See how frequency or content volume affects your data. Your numbers will help you find the sweet spot for your consumers.

You’re wasting time creating unnecessary content. That much communication requires a lot of time on production. If burn-out is real for your consumers, spending valuable time on content that the right people won’t see isn’t efficient for you. Instead of writing a large volume of broad content, let’s think about ways you can get in front of the right audience.

Priming is a strategy, too. I’m not saying to never say the things you feel compelled to communicate. I’m just suggesting that maybe it is a game of patience in some contexts. Maybe you spread the content out, release a little at a time, or communicate on a different timeline. Building relationships with people takes time, the same is true for a consumer. You don’t have to spill your guts on the first date.

Interested consumers will dive deeper. There is a group of people that do want everything you have to offer. They are looking for the next level of investment. For that reason, you should have frequently and obviously placed calls-to-action on every communication channel. Never post a piece of content without a next step. This offers the opportunity to learn more to those who are interested, without overloading those who still need to be primed.

Now, I want to insert a caveat. I don’t know that this is true for every business. And it certainly isn’t true for every consumer of your business. Hopefully you’ve got a few superfans (shout out to your Mom) that are interested in whatever it is that you have to say! However, they are likely a select group. You should appeal to them too, just maybe not in your mass communications.

So how do you determine how much communication is too much, too little and just right?

I recommend testing.

Don’t take my word for ANYTHING.

One thing I have learned as a marketer is that every business and audience is different, with its own preferences and nuances.

I don’t have a magic ball, and I can’t tell you with certainty what works for your marketing or your consumers.

But one insight I do have is to let the data do the talking. It’s the closest thing you’ve got to expertise.

So while I have a hunch: Over-communicating is actually bad for your business.

A test will be the way you prove the hunch right or wrong and find out what actually works for you.

If you’re not familiar with testing, and want to learn more about where to start- I wrote a blog about that too. You can find it at https://crossroadcoach.com/creating-culture-optimization/

I also want to be a sounding board for you as you navigate these waters. Objectivity is helpful sometimes. If you’d like to set up a call to talk through getting started with testing or discerning communications strategies, I’d love to chat! You can call at (225) 341-4147 or email me to start the conversation. Good luck as you strive to determine the best strategy for your business and consumers! 

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Rachel Miley

Rachel Miley serves clients as Crossroads' Marketing & Communications Strategist. Her desire is to meet clients’ goals through effective and innovative content development, strategic planning and coaching. A prior career in the non-profit sector has brought Rachel to Crossroads with a mindset of creativity and resourcefulness. Her desire is to help individuals discover how to glorify the Lord in and through their work.