I spend a lot more time editing these blog posts than I do writing them.
The writing is easy. I just dump all the things out onto the page.
It’s the editing that’s hard.
The world needs editors.
The average person sees thousands of images and words each day. Most of us probably get hundreds of emails, Slack messages, texts, notifications, taps on the shoulder, smoke signals.
We scroll dozens of websites. Scan through a couple hundred movie and show thumbnails and descriptions. Read more than 100 headlines about current events.
Ideas, words, photos, features, designs, tactics.
It all needs editing, just like a closet needs a good thinning out every year so we can see what’s really in there — what still fits.
I realize this may just be my impatient, overloaded COVID brain talking. But take this post as a plea for constraint. We have a lot of stuff coming at us every day.
When we can remember the context of this information-overload world we live in, it’s easy to see why presenting less in our marketing will give our message a greater chance of hitting home.
Science backs me up here…
The human brain craves simplicity. In fact, “energy efficiency” is part of our brain’s Motivational Triad, meaning we’re wired to seek out things that make us have to think less. (Oh hey late night social media scrolling, Netflix binging, and the cultural phenomenon known as reality TV…)
Given all that, it’s kinda weird how we also have this impulse to add more and more to the things we do in our businesses and our lives. It’s like we equate “more” to “valuable.”
I’ve seen this a lot in real estate marketing. Listing presentations that are 60+ slides long. Brochures with dozens of images, icons and a couple thousand words. Vendor demos that go on for an hour plus. Homepages that scroll for days.
In all fairness, I see this in my own work, too. (Right now, I have 26 tabs open in my Chrome browser, and 42 working documents on my desktop. I’ve given client presentations that should’ve been 20 minutes shorter.)
A lot of it needs a good, ruthless edit. It needs focus and constraint. A powerwash to reveal the brilliant color that lies beneath.
It’s obvious. And yet uncomfortable.
I’ve spent the bulk of my career as an editor, and there’s one thing I can tell you:
Editing is a sped up process of making decisions.
Does this belong?
Is this needed or gratuitous?
This sounds very clever, but does it add clarity to the message?
Does my audience already know this?
Will my reader need to know this at this point — or can it wait?
Is this the exact same thing I said above, worded differently?
These decisions can be exhausting. But making them now will save the person we’re trying to reach from exhaustion later, and create a bigger impact by pulling them in versus sending them away.
When presenting information — whether through a website, an email, an ad, a presentation — what’s the ONE thing someone needs to take away?
Pick one thing. Edit the rest. Then decide how and when to layer in additional information that pulls a prospect in like a slippery slide.
One idea. One purpose. One primary audience.
One impactful piece of marketing.