“Gretta, the internet is so fascinating!” — “Honey, that’s the microwave.”
Golf Carts, Superhighways, and Senior Citizens – Confusion Is Never A Good Thing
It was March of 1997. Our great uncle Guss and his lovely wife owned a trailer in a seniors park in Boca Raton, FL. Every morning, Uncle Guss would take his golf cart for a spin just down the street to the local McD’s. The route was a quick turn right out of the park and half a click along the sidewalk of Blue Heron Blvd. into the McD’s parking lot. I’m still not certain if driving a golf cart on the sidewalk was legal but, reflecting back, there was a lot of things Florida seniors got away with.
One particular sunny morning, uncle Guss finished his egg mcmuffin breakfast ritual, climbed into his cart, and began his journey home. Only this time, instead of turning left, back towards the park, he turned right and proceeded up a small hill. As he’s driving along, he suddenly notices slews of cars flying by him at breakneck speeds!
“What the heck is wrong with you people! Crazy drivers! Slow down! Senior citizen here!”
Something wasn’t right. But the man just kept on puddling along. Soon after, cars were honking at him and swerving by! “SLOW DOWN!! Crazy drivers!” Guss was getting fed up. And to make things worse, people started cutting him off!! Uncle Guss had had enough. He parked the cart and climbed out. To his surprise, other people had pulled over and were getting out of their cars! Guss was ready to let ’em have it.
Well… it turns out that little detour up the hill happened to be the on ramp to Interstate-95, Florida’s biggest and busiest superhighway. Golf carts and superhighways don’t mix. And with my confused great Uncle Guss in the driver’s seat, it was a recipe for disaster. Miraculously, he had made it a mile down the highway without a scratch.
Uncle Guss no longer drives a golf cart.
Whether its confusion-by-senior in a golf cart on a superhighway, or confusion-by-customer trying to understand your business value propositions, confusion is never good. Modern communication is about delivering clear, concise messaging thats as digest-able as an egg mcmuffin on a sunny Florida morning. Audiences nowadays are unforgiving, quick to judge, and quick to move on. There is very little room for mistakes when it comes to business storytelling and brand perception. Take a few moments this week, sit in a golf cart if you must, and put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Look at your business messaging, look at your website, read your print material.
Are your value propositions front and centre? Quickly identifiable? Impactful and enticing? Here are 3 quick tips to sharpen your preverbal pencil and reduce confusion in your business messaging:
1. Use Less Words
Always be scrutinizing everything you’re typing, whether it be for print or web, seek to communicate the same message using the fewest number of words possible.
2. Use Better Words
Less words is a good start, but mixed with better words is.. well.. even better. Look at the words you’ve chosen. What can be swapped to increase impact and interest? For example, let’s say you’re a nonprofit trying to encourage people to donate on your website. You’ve typed out the tagline:
“Please donate today, and help us reach our campaign goal. Without you, nothing we do would be possible. Thank you for your support!”
That’s a nice sentiment, but its not very powerful, and it could be shorter. Let’s strive to use less words, and better words:
“Your generosity delivers lasting change. Your support keeps us going.”
We’ve moved from 23 words down to 10, and arguably increased the impact of the message by using better words & phrases like “generosity” and “lasting change” — sentiments that better reflect the impact your donors have on your organization.
3. And finally, don’t be afraid to have fun and get a little cheeky.
People respond well to bold, fresh messages. In a world where the average person is hit with 3000 messages per day, bravely venturing outside the box a little can help you stand apart from your status quo competitors.