Recently one of our interns presented the creative team with an ad layout that he was going to submit for a class. It featured a spread of eight pictures with copy at the bottom. He wanted our impression.
Instead of telling him, we took a sheet of paper and covered half of the pictures. The ad suddenly sprang to life. It now grabbed the reader and captured the imagination. It now had focus.
In today’s mobile-oriented, distraction-filled media environment, focus may be the most important consideration in creating effective communications.
People are bombarded with hundreds of competing messages every day. By and large, they tune them out. They skim. They skip. Even if they do engage with a communication, they are constantly evaluating if it’s worth their time. If your communication isn’t focused, your audience won’t be either, and they’ll shift their attention elsewhere.
Here are some tips to help you add focus to your communications:
1. Determine a single goal for your communication. Ask yourself, what is the goal of this communication? What do you want to achieve? How do you want people to respond? What do you want them to do? Write down possibilities. Then pick one and only one. Hitting one target is better than missing two.
2. Build your communication around that goal. Try working backwards. Ask yourself, what must be here to achieve the goal? What arguments do I need to make? What proof do I need? Eliminate anything that doesn’t help achieve the goal.
3. Lead people in and lead them out. Organize your communication so people know where the story begins and where it ends. Make sure the path from beginning to end is clear so they follow the story you want to tell.
4. Say less. Imply more. Allow people’s imaginations to take hold. Send them in the right direction and let them fill in the blanks. Emotions communicate more powerfully than facts.
5. Eliminate friction. Make sure you have ample white space to improve readability. Correct any misspellings. Use more verbs and fewer adverbs.
With more focus, your communications will be punching harder than ever.
September 4, 2018
Written by Tim Burr
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