The Art of Straightforwardness

In any profession, it’s easy to get caught up in that industry’s jargon, habits and rules. We learn them, are told to live by them and over time, we tend to become so involved in our little worlds that we forget the basics. We forget how to walk and talk to the everyday folks outside of our commutes and buildings. Sometimes, it feels like we forget to act like humans and just speak in a straightforward manner.

It’s ironic that the quality that makes for the best advertising is the quality most of us tend to ignore: straightforwardness.

When you see an ad on the street or you’re scrolling through your feed, all that matters for consumers is that the content resonates emotionally and the design is memorable. If we’re not doing those two things, the ad isn’t working. We’re in the business of human interaction; the more human we can be, the better results we’ll see.

These days, humans are too busy to read, watch or listen to a long-winded, fumbled explanation of a product’s benefits. Ads must be quick and easy, but the road to get there is not. Being short and to-the-point requires working longer and harder. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.”

To craft a compelling headline or tweak a design into its simplest form requires the experience and expertise to recognize and exploit the Nugget of Truth. The Nugget of Truth is that one insight that strikes a chord with the consumer. It inspires action and stays with a person long after the ad was seen, whether the consumer realizes it or not.

Finding your Nugget of Truth is the first part, but the second part is distilling that truth into a bold, crystal clear message.

We must create something delicious and digestible with substance worth savoring.

Many companies function two ways: They either insist on creating marketing that is clever or witty, a punchline to be laughed at or appreciated. Or they insist on boring their customers to death with the details.

Humor and wit can and should be admired, and in the right context, even praised if relevant. However, creating a clever ad for the sake of being clever is not effective. It must be combined with relevance and straightforwardness in order to be deemed effective.

Details are important, but in advertising, your goal is to sell emotionally, not technically.

Take the time to seriously put yourself in your audience’s shoes: do they really want to read three sentences about how awesome you are next to a picture of your product? Do they want to hear you tell them how you know them the best? Or can you show that you know them through short, straightforward storytelling?

Remember that, like you, your consumers are humans. Speak to them in our common language.

Toucan is a New Orleans-based advertising agency.

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