A colleague of mine was tasked with promoting colon cancer screenings for a healthcare client. He suggested a simple and direct campaign with messaging that went something like the following: “Colon cancer can kill; a simple screening can save your life—what are you waiting for?” The client rejected the idea on the basis that it would scare people instead of motivating them to act. My colleague argued that fear was the most powerful possible motivator in this campaign. The client didn’t buy it. Ultimately, they sent a far less effective package, asking people to please get a screening (without the facts and statistics suggesting that screenings and early interventions can save lives). Needless to say, the response rate was far less than the client was hoping for.

The lesson? There is a time for a soft sell and there is a time for clear and direct communication. Most often, in marketing, the latter is preferred. Think about common industry phrases:

  • “Call to action.”
  • “Direct response rates.”
  • “Client motivators.”

Do these strike you as passive phrases? Of course not!

Effective marketing is about being straightforward. Clear messaging resonates with audiences for a few important reasons:

1. Short on Time. Your audience appreciates being able to quickly ascertain what is being asked of them; as a society, we are getting busier and busier and attention is easily diverted. If your organization speaks clearly, your message will cut through the marketing clutter.

2. Assumption of Intelligence. Clear and direct messages assume a level of audience intelligence, which endears your brand to your prospects.

3. Ethical Associations. Straightforward communications suggest a straightforward, sincere company and brand—a brand that people will want to do business with.

Clients, especially in the professional services space, crave direction and want to be lead toward the route that will produce results and impact bottom-line revenues. More often than not, this requires an overhaul of suggestive and soft-sell messaging into clearer and more direct communications.

Thoughts? Are your communications too soft to generate results?

Have questions about messaging overhauls?

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