Les Jones, Marketing Director at Practice Plan, shares the key to all communications – SIMPLICITY!
Consider these two questions…
- Would you care to partake in a receptacle (made of china) of hot beverage made from plant leaves imported from India which have been slowly infused into recently boiled water and combined with a small amount of fresh cow’s milk?
- Would you like a cup of tea?
Clearly, the first question is ridiculous; we would never think of communicating that way. Yet, when it comes to marketing or promotional materials, this is exactly what many dental practices do. They cram too much detail into too small a space using a cornucopia of different typefaces and colours… and then expect their audience to ‘get it’.
Consumers today are bombarded by hundreds of marketing messages every day and, as a result, they are making their decisions based on smaller and smaller chunks of information – known as ‘thin slicing’. You will have personally experienced this if you’ve recently thrown away some direct mail letters without even opening the envelopes. How long did you give them before you made up your mind they were for the bin? If you fit the norm, it will have been less than a second.
Of course, when practices put their brochures and websites together, the intention is always good – to provide relevant and useful information to the reader. It’s the delivery that often fails. The key is to understand what the priority messages are and what other information could be provided at a later stage. The principle of ‘less is more’ should be the approach here – successful communication is as much about what you leave out as it is about what you put in.
The challenge for every practice is to ‘speak the language of the receiver’ – that means developing an understanding of what is important to your customers, what criteria they will make their decision on and what style of language they are most likely to respond to. Once you’ve nailed that, concentrate on delivering these messages in a clear, uncluttered and unambiguous way.
In other words… avoid the NOISE! Just like it’s difficult to talk and listen when there’s lots of extraneous noise, so it is with print and web communications – if there’s too much visual noise the big messages get lost.
As an example, take a look at the home pages for Google and Yahoo! – both are search engines. Of course, they provide much more, but it was Google that realised early on that the vast majority of visitors to their site want to ‘search’ for something – so they took everything else off the page and just left that function. You can do the same thing on Yahoo! – but just look how much visual noise gets in your way. Which site do you use…?
So, take some time to really hone in on the key messages you want to communicate and don’t be tempted to throw the kitchen sink into your marketing materials. Customers have very short attention spans and if you’re taking too long to get to the point… they’re gone.