Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Narrowing Down the Info

Author: ; Published: Dec 27, 2009; Category: Business Writing, Message Simplicity; Tags: , , ; 3 Comments

When you’re starting to think about marketing a new product or service, sometimes you will come up with lots of great points. There may be a gazillion good features and even more benefits.

So on your first pass, you might end up with far too many things. That’s OK. I’ve had engineers and scientists tell me 25 reasons why their new technology is so great. Or photographers list hundreds of bullets for their features and benefits. We just narrow this wealth of information down.

What’s the top reason someone should buy what you’re selling? Most people, including your potential customers, will glaze over before they get to number 25, so you’d better have the top reason pretty well focused, and near, or at the top of the list.

Quite often I listen to all the information, take notes, and then come back with things sorted into groups and prioritized. We might go through several iterations before we agree on the top points.

When doing ads, or other types of marketing materials, I’ll often push people to pick one main point. We very likely will hit a few more things besides this one top point in our marketing piece, but we’d better be focusing on this one first, followed by the secondary reasons someone will want to buy.

You might have lots of great features, but knowing how to pick the top one and then sticking with it is extremely valuable.  In longer forms of communication, like a large brochure, or on those second or third level web pages, you can always go into the points lower on the list for those who want that level of detail.

Why is having one top point so important?  Imagine an ad.  When doing a creative concept, the headline and visual together are going to communicate one clear message.  What’s that message going to be?

Some of the information that backs up this key point will be in the body copy.  Without one clear focus, the ad will not be effective.  The same holds true for other types of marketing materials.  It seems so easy, but actually, achieving clarity can be very difficult. But don’t skip this step because it’s hard. It’s the key to success.

You can always tell people more but usually it’s going to be another time, another place.  Just like they tell entrepreneurs to have an elevator talk ready, you need your short version for anything you’re selling. You’ll also need other, longer versions for other purposes.  Just don’t try to tell everyone everything all at once. Usually they’ll just end up not hearing or learning anything.

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3 Responses to “Narrowing Down the Info”

  1. Chuck C
    Jan 6, 2010
    3:11 pm

    Hi Ellen:

    WOW!!! Beautifuil website. Congrats and best wishes to you and the new site launch. I resemble some of the problems you reference in this article, but have been learning better ways to keep it simple and stay on point.

    Happy New Year and see you soon I hope…


  2. E. D. Lutwak
    Jan 6, 2010
    3:35 pm

    Great website and blog. Your articles are full of information.

    For those looking for a copywriter, here is my testimonial about Ms Cline’s excellent work:
    I have worked with Ellen Cline on several projects, and I am always very impressed at how she is able to synthesize a vast amount of information – often technical – into readable, consumer-directed copy. Often it is her playful use of language that entertains and attracts customers. Her turn-around time is astonishing as well.

  3. Jonathan R Price
    Jan 10, 2010
    12:13 pm

    Good idea to explain what you do, and how you aim at getting one main point–so important!

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