Content Construction

Whatever business you’re in, your primary function is in getting your various audiences to take specific actions, or behave with a specific purpose. As I wrote on Wednesday, it comes down to message, image and content. For our purposes, we will consider content to also include the combination of message and image.

Regardless of your medium, the same basic principles apply. The message must be clear and concise. The image must support that message or the brand. And the content pulls everything together to inspire the desired behavior.

It’s how you construct and use the content that makes the difference. Your marketing content is going to contain the same three things:

  • Who you are, typically represented with a logo
  • A supporting image, even if it is white space
  • Your message

The amount of information within the content will depend entirely on the medium. Some examples for advertising:

  • Billboards—You have to keep it simple and straightforward when using billboards. Your logo, supporting image and basic message must be big enough for people to see and recognize as they are zooming by. Your message needs to be about 5 words (7 tops). If you can’t keep it that short, then either the message is saying too much at one time or you are trying to use the wrong medium. Avoid using phone numbers. People are not going to stop to write them down. Providing too much information in a billboard will cause viewers to ignore them. Don’t count on people reading them while stuck in traffic. They are focused too much on the traffic inching around them and the mobile devices they have with them.
  • Online Banner Ads—See the comments about billboards above.
  • Online Text Ads—With text ads, you won’t use your logo, but you still have to tell people who you are. The ad is all message, since you won’t have a supporting image of your own. You will be using the website where you place your ad as the supporting “image”. Again, though, keep the message short and to the point (7-10 words).
  • Radio—Much like the others mentioned above. Get to the point and be clear in what you are saying. Avoid using phone numbers unless it is a mnemonic (1-800-FLOWERS). Do not use “fine print speak”, that rapid spewing of legalese that tells the listener not to trust anything you just said. And don’t try to be overly creative or off-beat with your ad. It leads to an incongruent message and weaker commercials. For instance, there is DVD rental service with a farcical game show commercial with seemingly random and obscure questions and answers. They follow those with what they purport to be a fact about the number of movies they’ve rented. It is a complete disconnect.
  • Traditional TV—15 or 30 seconds is a long time if you stay on point. Again, getting too off-beat or overly creative leaves less time to actually sell your product. For the same reasons mentioned above, don’t use fine print or fine print speak. (As an aside, one furniture company had the audacity to slam on their competitors use of fine print while flashing fine print on the screen themselves.) It is possible to get your point across without doing the same-old, same-old commercials like everyone else and without creating nonsense. Just because your research shows that your audience wants or likes to see goofy off-beat stuff doesn’t mean they want to see it from you. It also doesn’t mean that’s how they make purchasing decisions.
  • Online TV—Producing video ads online allows for longer formats. You can develop more creative commercials that support the message because you have more time to pull it all together. If it’s good, people will watch something that is 2-4 minutes long. But don’t lose focus on the message.
  • Print—Depending on the size you have to work with, you can add more content, but try to avoid it. Stick to the basics of your message. I recently helped a group revise a small ad for a trade publication. It was overly wordy and distracting. I cut some of the copy and consolidated others. I didn’t add anything. When they looked at it, they became most concerned about the wording of one of the statements (which I hadn’t changed, only exposed). There was so much other stuff, that they had missed it completely in the earlier version.
  • Brochures—With brochures, you have the opportunity to use more supporting images and facts. Resist the urge to make it text dense. Use the space and imagery to tell the story. Support those with some basic, to-the-point text.

That’s a lot to digest on a Friday. Next week, we’ll look at developing content that supports your marketing efforts and some ways to develop your message concisely.

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2 Responses

  1. […] for Support Materials Posted on March 24, 2008 by cpmccrory Friday, in my post Content Construction, I discussed what content you should use in creating advertising materials. Today, we tackle […]

  2. […] In all honesty, I’m not sure which one, because as I am zooming by I can’t read the stuff written in orange (I borrowed these billboards from The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living website). Each of these statements is effective and should be used. But not on a billboard. It is the wrong medium for this many words (see my earlier post Content Construction). […]

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