For a little over two years, I’ve been a “professional” writer.
For about a year, I’ve actually been good at it.
I’m always curious what other people are doing, because it gives me an opportunity to learn. As I’ve been learning to do my job better, one thing has become shockingly clear:
Marketers have a hard time getting to the point.
Think about this. Pick a corporation. Pick a charity. Pick a person. Read a couple pages of their websites.
Have they said anything at all? If they have, do you understand it?
Last week, Seth Godin made a great point on his blog about this very issue. He writes, “Most people work hard to find artful ways to say very little. Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?”
His advice to marketers is simple: “Write nothing instead. It’s shorter.”
It’s good advice.
Brevity isn’t merely important, it’s essential.
If we can’t get to the point, and can’t do so in a way that everyone will quickly understand, then we’re doing a terrible job in our marketing.
So how do we uncomplicate things? How do we get to the point?
Probably the best advice on this I’ve read is found in Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath. This is what they refer to as the SUCCESs model, particularly the principle of simplicity. They write:
Simplicity isn’t about dumbing down, it’s about prioritizing. (Southwest will be THE low-fare airline.) What’s the core of your message? Can you communicate it with an analogy or high-concept pitch?
We need to, in whatever field we work, get to the core of our message. To figure out what’s most important and talk about that in a way that makes sense.
For those of us in the church, it means maybe we need to take a look at our published mission statements.
What’s our purpose?
Why do we exist?
Do they make sense to anyone except the person who wrote it?
Do they make us sound more like a life-coaching organizations rather than messengers of the gospel of Christ?
Are we getting to the point?