In marketing and in sales, the gift of gab isn’t a gift at all. It fact, it’s a curse, and we all know someone who has pissed off a shaman somewhere, somehow, sometime, and now lives with this affliction. Haven’t you run into a life size Chatty Cathy doll at a networking event, and wondered who the hell is pulling their string and making then spew non-stop? Even dreamed of choking them into silence. Admit it.
Unfortunately, that same curse can spill over into our marketing, be it print, web, radio, whatever. Saying way too much, using way too many words, using words that are just way wrong. Typically this curse manifests itself in ego boosting hype about us, our company, our widgets. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and when you look at most marketing, it shows.
A recent book by Stephen Boyko called We’re All Screwed, had an interesting example on the use of words. Now the book isn’t about marketing or copywriting, but consider this: The Lords Prayer has 71 words. The Ten Commandments, 86 words. The Gettysburg Address a mere 278 words. The U.S. government regulations on the sale of cabbage, a mind blowing 26,911 words. Do you really need more words to move someone, to guide them, to get them to act? OK, I’ll admit I cried when I read the Cabbage Regulations, and I hate cabbage. Get the point?
Back at the big networking event, what do you notice? Yeah, the cool people don’t talk too much and they don’t talk about themselves constantly. They ask questions and they listen. Stupid shits do just the opposite. Since we don’t want to be marketing stupid shits, here’s some simple advice. Craft a message that talks about them (them being those who your words are intended to motivate into action) in as few, carefully selected words as possible. What are their fears, their pain, their questions, their frustrations, their challenges? Address those while making yourself, your company, your widgets secondary. Do that, and you will discover less really is more.
As for Chatty Cathy, don’t worry, her string will eventually break.