4 Signs Your Marketing Materials Are Too Cluttered

Are you pulling a “Lisa” in your marketing materials?

Let me explain…

When Apple launched their computer Lisa in 1983, the last project before Steve Jobs was let go, they did so with a nine-page ad in the New York Times spelling out the computer’s technical features.


It was nine pages of geek talk!

The computer bombed.

When Jobs returned to the company after running Pixar, Apple became customer-centric, compelling, and clear in their communication. The first campaign he released after his return went from nine pages in the New York Times to just two words on billboards all over America:

Think Different.

We all know how the Apple story has gone from there.

Is it time for you to simplify and declutter, too? Grab your latest sales page, email campaign, or brochure and yourself these four questions:

Are there large blocks of copy?

Ever seen the online abbreviation “tl;dr”?

It stands for “too long; didn’t read.”

When your prospects are faced with a brain-draining lengthy paragraph, they’re going to skip it — or stop engaging altogether.

That’s because they’re not really reading at all. They’re scanning, and those long paragraphs make it difficult to spot the keywords that tell us whether a particular bit of copy is relevant.

Here’s what to do when you spot a large text block:

Start by eliminating about half of the text (bonus points for more). Then, make sure your paragraphs are no more than four or five lines long, tops.

If you’re having trouble cutting, read this epic Onion article for some motivation.

Are my headlines dull?

Your headline has one job: to convince people to keep reading.

But most of the time, headlines are missed opportunities. They end up being an afterthought during the creative process, when really, you should spend 10% of your overall writing time thinking of ways your headlines can be more dazzling.

I see this missed opportunity all the time on the “About Us” page of a website.

Right there at the top, there’s the headline. Drumroll, please:

“About Us”

Insert cricket noises here. Now, compare that to something like:

“Why We’re Obsessed With Helping You Dress Better”

There, that’s better. There’s an open loop in this headline that invites me to keep reading in order to answer the question. Even better, it orients the company’s business as a clothing retailer to how it helps me, the customer.

Do my images showcase what I offer?

Not too long ago, a client who offered industrial painting services came to me with an underperforming website. It was thoughtful but it didn’t make a great deal of sense to potential customers.

The man had hired a fine-arts painter to give him a painting of his building. Frankly, it looked a lot like an Italian restaurant, and I just wanted my free breadsticks.

We suggested an image of a technician in a lab coat painting something — and voila, customers suddenly had a pretty good idea of what this company does before they ever read a word of copy.

Choose relevant images like this, and they’ll work for you long after your customers leave your site.

That’s because when people hear information, they’ll only remember about 10% of it after three days. However, that retention shoots up to 65% if they see a relevant image with that same information. (Thanks to John Medina for pointing out this research.)

Review your images to make sure they complement your content and showcase what you do. After all, they’re the very first thing your customers will process, even before they realize what they’re seeing.

Am I featuring technical details or product specifics?

Will you give me a pass for using Apple as an example twice in a blog post?

They’ve just released the iPhone 7, and I’m fascinated by how they’re presenting it online.

Home page? No technical details about the iPhone.


Oh, I’ll click iPhone. They’ll talk about the features there, I bet.



If you want feature details, it’s three links in.


Everything up until that point is centered around commanding images and simple, declarative copy — a drool-worthy presentation that makes me want the dang phone before I even know what it does.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad to talk about features. It’s just bad to lead with them.

You’re only ready to talk about features of your product or service once you’ve established how you help your customer and what makes you different from other people who offer the same solution.

If a prospect is still reading at that point, they’re ready for feature-level details. Before then, it’s just going to be noise.

So, how did you do? If it’s time to do some revenue-generating magic of tidying up in your marketing collateral, our, five-minute marketing makeover is a great place to start. It’s a free ecourse that will show you how to cut out the noise, simplify your messaging, and improve your website. You can sign up for free below.

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