Clean Out Your Attic

Upstairs is a room called the attic. It’s a hodge-podge of pieces of your life: furniture, clothing, nick-knacks. It’s a story of who you are, all tossed into piles. Maybe a few cobwebs.

It’s OK for your attic to be cluttered – it’s even charming. Muddle in your advertisements isn’t quite the same. Your customers can’t wade through every pile of what it took to get you to where you are and what it means to keep you there. Building a website or print ad involves careful deletion: consumers don’t care about every piece of information that tells all about the what and where and when and why.

So when you think about building an advertisement, don’t toss in every piece of information you can think of. And definitely leave out the cobwebs.

Ads aren’t effective if they look like ransom notes: overflowing with information with no dominant message. The way to build effective communication is to remember that you only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention: with billboards it’s fewer than two seconds and even less on the internet. People are overloaded – a nanosecond is all you have to make them stop and pay attention. A company needs to create one main visual: a picture with a great headline or fluid, clear copy. You can’t clog your advertisement with everything but the kitchen sink. That creates chaos. Your viewer will lose patience and you’re a click away from being dumped into oblivion.

Something must jump out and make a statement; if it doesn’t, the ads becomes one big blur. You need a dominant image – be it a headline, picture or simple, engaging text – to engage the viewer and give them a reason to take action.

For example: in every GAP e-blast there’s one main visual – sometimes a young girl wearing a scarf or a huge banner advertising 50 percent off or free shipping. Whatever else is happening on the page, one dominant item always gets the consumer’s attention.

Give the consumer just enough information to whet their appetite but not so much that they won’t pick up the phone or place that online order.