Cut the Clutter. What Clutter?

The Marketing clutter.  All the stuff on that coveted piece of real estate at the top of each Web page. Everything above the cut? Above the fold.  Above the bottom of the screen.

You can’t cram everything you know about yourself, your product, or your company into that one space. If you’re expecting your Visitor to warm up to that, it ain’t gonna happen!

Now .. this is where it gets interesting
The latest research says you have exactly 4 seconds to convince your visitor she’s in the right place.  Four seconds until this person makes the critical decision to stay for awhile … or head on down the highway.

So, what do you do?  A number of things too numerous for this post (… planning on covering that later).  Just let me throw out a couple of observations.

It’s all in the Editing
I remember someone very wise once told me that good copy writing is in the editing.  I think I believe that because I’m one of those boring, continuous improvement guys people tell to get a life.

I just have a penchant for redoing stuff. And as far as I’m concerned, there is only one place to start cutting clutter on a Web page.

With the words
Remember “Content is King?”  Some are disputing that, but let’s face it … we sell with words.  Yet, too many words and they can get in the way of the message.

That’s why I prefer the brief and direct approach to copywriting.

You’re flying down the highway at 70 mph and a billboard flashes by with a single sentence on it that really grabs you (“I hope you fully understand that my Ten Commandments were not suggestions.”  Signed, God).

No Time & Patience
People don’t read the Internet. They scan it.  A habit they most likely picked up from the morning newspaper.  Those are the people who, decades ago, invented the “Headline.”  If the headline grabs you, you’re going to read the rest of the story.

So here’s your challenge: take a good hard look at every page you post on the Net. Think of it as that billboard on the side of the road as you travel the virtual SuperHighway.  Is there a headline, a sentence, a phrase strong enough to give a Visitor pause long enough to register your message? Long enough to peak their interest?  Putting that “Can’t wait to read this one” gleam in their eye?  Powerful enough to entice them to stay awhile and, what’s more important, keep coming back for more?

If there is, that’s a good start. But, remember. It’s only the beginning.  We’ll discuss that later.

I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think. Have a wonderful whatever!

You have got to read this book!

Unless, of course, you know nothing of, and could care less about advertising.

“I’ve been in the advertising business over 30 years. But don’t hold that against me.

I’ve seen the business gyrate, dance, change its clothes, grow a goatee, shave a goatee, and go virtual and back more times that I care to remember. But I’ve never seen it as dazed and confused as it is today.

With all the changes we’re experiencing in modes of communication and delivery systems, it’s not surprising that people are confused. The purpose of this book … is (to remind you) that advertising has one simple purpose: to find something interesting to say that will make someone buy your stuff.”

The book makes a long story, short, and it’ a fast read at only 65 pages … but Author Bob Hoffman (CEO of Hoffman/Lewis Ad Agency in San Francisco and St Louis) has crammed so much of his “cut the clutter” wisdom in between the covers, it’s almost overwhelming … which is no problem since it only takes a 45 minute plane trip to read the book again.

Check it out now at the Ad Contrarian Blog.

I’d like to point out that the first valuable lesson is in that last quoted paragraph (which, incidentally, appears in the Preface of the book) and for the sake of all Ad People and Bloggers, I again quote: to “find something interesting to say …”

Do you have any idea how difficult that is? Do you, Really? You do, if you’ve been blogging for long. Or writing Ads.

So I’ll make a deal with you. If you’ll check back with me every once in awhile, I’ll try my best to make it worth your while … or, at the very least, to make it interesting.