There’s a rule of thumb in print media that people need to see an ad four times before it registers.
Because people are stupid.
No, not really. But kind of. You have to treat people as if they’re stupid.
And it’s not that people actually have the mental capacity of a 2-year old. It’s that there’s so much going on in their lives, so much info coming at them all the time, that the very best you can hope for is to carve out a chunk of their mental processing capacity equivalent to a 2-year old’s.
So I try to roll this way myself.
Often I see people send massive long emails, that are incredibly well-crafted, rich with all the relevant info, contain through explanations of the subject matter at hand, all in a thoughtful and considerate tone.
What a waste of time.
Seriously, if you’re sending me an email that doesn’t pretty much say everything it needs to say in the preview pane of my mail system, you’re wasting your time.
The days where physical letters found some one alone in their study, a glass of brandy swirling in the glass, a cat on their lap, leisurely enjoying your witty observations and lyrical flair, are gone. They’re gone and they’re not coming back.
Now, you’ve got 5 seconds of someone’s attention on their phone while they’re flicking through Netflix.
So keep it short and simple. Treat them like a 2-year old. I mean that. If you’re writing to me, please, treat me like a 2-year old. Make it so easy to understand what you’re saying and what you want that I don’t have to give it any of my precious mental processing capacity at all.
I’m begging you.
So this is about keeping your language sharp and on-point, but there’s another trick I use that I call ‘staging’.
That is, I release the info in stages.
Ok, say for an example, we’re gearing up for a marketing campaign, and I need to key the tech guys in.
Now I’ve got a decent feel for what’s involved now – from the landing page, to the ticketing, to the A-B testing etc.
So I could send them an email with a massive brain dump of all the elements.
Which, lets be honest, would be too much for a 2-year old to take in.
Or, I could give them the information in stages.
Quick heads up. We’re doing a new campaign on XXXX by YYYY. I’ll need it ready to go by ZZZZZ.
More info coming soon.
ps – I miss you. Why don’t you call anymore?”
You get the point. Modern messaging gives us the capacity to release info in stages. It’s costless.
Now obviously you don’t want to be bombing their inboxes, but if you have the capacity to be priming people ahead of when their deadlines are due, then I can definitely recommend staging your comms.
And with email, this gives you the advantage of clearly defined subject headings to keep the info orderly.
Sub: Key dates for blah blah campaign
Sub: Copy for blah blah campaign
Sub: Pricing info for blah blah campaign
Sub: who was that boy I saw you with on Saturday night?
You get the idea.
Essentially, this is about doing their work for them. It’s about making the information orderly at your end, so it comes through in a clear and orderly way.
But if you want to get the best out of people, you can’t overestimate them.