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More is Not Merrier

by Doug Davidoff | Jun 1, 2007 1:13:19 PM

Growing up, my mom often told me, “too much of a good thing can be bad for you.” As a child, I didn’t particularly like this advice. As a business development strategist, I understand and appreciate it.

Nowhere is this more true than messaging. One of the biggest obstacles to getting a message to ‘stick’ is that people try to generate too many potentially sticky messages and customers get confused. Recently, I was working with a client to help them communicate an important concept. We came up with an acronym that conveyed a key part of their brand promise. They liked the idea so much, they started coming up with other acronyms to explain other ideas – after all, if one acronym is good, two must be twice as good, and three…well you get the idea.

I advised my client that one acronym might in fact be a good idea. But, once you chose one, choosing another isn’t just a bad idea, it’s an idea that reduces or negates all the efforts that they were putting into creating their overall messaging. I reminded my client that their customers had no interest in understanding their business – they were only concerned with solving their problems. The one acronym we came up with enabled them to capture a complex idea in a ‘sticky’ way. If they introduced another, instead of simplifying the complicated, they would compete with their own message.

This is a trap we all fall into in some way or other. Dan & Chip Heath write about the ‘Curse of Knowledge’. We all want people to understand what we do – even if they don’t want to. As a result, we tend to introduce too many things – we try to make too many things memorable. Here’s what I’d recommend – Get a prospect or client to remember one and only one compelling idea about you. It is all you need to achieve growth. Keep it simple.