In the news business, editors write headlines to be a specific as possible to quickly convey the news and not leave room for ambiguity. They also do it to grab attention. A dull headline just won’t keep the attention of readers. This craft applies to digital marketing.
This practice must be applied to business marketing in the digital space as well. You don’t have much time or space to speak to your target audience. This is why you must be economical with your words. Pick precise words to quickly get your message across.
Remember, you are speaking to a specific audience, not mass media, so there is no need to speak to billions when your objective is to address millions or thousands. Be direct. People don’t have time to dillydally and will scroll past vague wording. A friend of mine is fond of noting “if you don’t say it straight, it comes out crooked.” Even if not crooked, indirect wording is a time waster. In reaching your selected audience, say something of value to them by being instructive with your content.
You are competing for attention in a crowded marketplace. Do you have a browser or two open right now? How many tabs are open? Are you looking at your phone too? All day long, there is a digital barrage of information flying at your audience. To hold their attention, you will need to project: authority, integrity and appeal. Your authority rests on your subject matter expertise. Stick to your knitting. Don’t get way off topic and try to appeal to too many people. For example, why are so many businesses using motivational slogans for self-improvement in their marketing of businesses that have nothing to do with self-improvement? Yes, I like #MondayMotivation, but I’m not clear on what it has to do with pastries, meteorology, animal rights, financial news, etc. We all know it’s a gimmick to rise in the pile of tweets by using that hashtag, but unless you are a motivational speaker or life coach, I would not use #MondayMotivation every Monday or in your Twitter profile. What are you selling? Build your online brand around that. If you sell pretzels, by all means go to town on #NationalPretzelDay, but for the most part most of us do not need to participate in every trending hashtag to garner attention.
When using technical language, elaborate with explanations in layman’s terms. Not only will you endear yourself to someone trying to quickly get up to speed on a topic, but you’re creating more searchable content with the synonyms.
Precise wording will appeal to people who don’t have time to mess around, such as decisionmakers. I just scrolled through my Twitter feed and saw a lot of mumbo jumbo and then two Tweets that were crystal clear. One was a writer seeking to interview ovarian cancer patients, and the other was about the latest debate over transgender rights. Did I click on them? No, but the next one is about business trip savings tips and that grabs my attention. What do these Tweets have in common? They are direct. They are specific. They are precisely worded.
For more communications consulting, contact Katharine Fraser.