5: How Much is Too Much Information?

Crowded StreetMy first year in business, BiPlane Productions advertised itself with an eight-page brochure. Busting with back story and benefits, it was too much to read. Prospects probably read none of it, because they couldn’t read all of it. I’ll never know.

Then four years ago, I melted that down to three plane tickets (and now two) that fit within a potential client’s hand. The package design won a national award, but my greatest success was in learning how to arrive at and then sell the main thing or two.

For BiPlane, it’s (now) simple: I promptly design award-winning work for aspiring and accomplished auction companies across the nation.

Most advertisers with whom I work have little trouble synthesizing their advertising content to a few lines for expensive classified ads in the Wall Street Journal. When it comes to their direct mail or promotional pieces, though, they struggle like I did to focus. Instead of selling the sizzle with succinct copy, we cover their great full-bleed photos with paragraphs of text. Often the interior of brochures are crammed with 8- to 10-point type with almost everything there is to say. Busy.

The irony is that we typically end the reading progression with “for more information . . . visit our Web site.”

There is always room on the Internet for more details; you cannot have too much auction/event/listing/property information online. It may not all be available from the home page—and you wouldn’t want it all on there; but, as long as it’s easy to find, you should inform all you can from your web site. Many auction companies publish property information packages (“PIP”) but fail to trust their advertising to get their prospects there.

You can over inform with your advertising. Too much content (text and even pictures) can take away from the intrinsic attraction—just like a chatty first date. So, let your direct mail pieces and promotional materials show only the highlights. Let the pictures save you descriptive copy. Establish the Internet as your information safety net. Prospects not willing to expend the energy to follow their interest online will probably not expend the energy to purchase, either.

I am the prince of too much information. I’ve met chatter boxes that use a lot more words with even more unnecessary details; but I struggle to keep my stories of adventure succinct, my lessons of discovery synoptic, my embarrassing foibles private.

The Hebrew king, Solomon, said that even a fool, when he holds his tongue, is considered wise. By capitalism’s law of supply and demand, fewer words would be worth more each that way.

Many times, I think that the opposite to talking is listening. But, sometimes, it’s just silence. I work to listen, but stillness is almost impossible. In successfully creating that space, though, the color of life is richer, the sounds waft softly perceptible, the breaths reach tangible. Whether my fewer words are richer to others or not, the absence of them are priceless to me.

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