Quick question for you:
What do you see when you look at this postcard?
It's nice, right?
Maybe, if you like snow.
But to truly appreciate the image takes a little imagination.
For instance, imagine standing in the scene yourself, right where the photographer stood, seeing that exact view. Your hands are stuffed in your pockets, your breath is showing in puffs.
Based on the color of the sky, the sun has set; darkness will be upon you soon. You know your ears and nose must be red with cold. BRRR!
The nearby streets are quiet, with just a few cars sloshing by. Somewhere behind you, a few birds tweet and chirp, signing off for the night.
You look across the way there, at those buildings, those lit windows, each representing one or more lives. Standing there, might you wonder, as I do, what's going on behind those windows?
Perhaps a cube dweller in his 30s is behind one of them. He's cooking dinner, tired after a day at the office, the radio offering quiet condolences in the background.
Maybe another light hides the pain of a family, torn by the recent death of a loved one in a far-away state. California, maybe. The living room, though full, is whisper silent but for the occasional sob and sniffle.
Perhaps a young woman fresh out of college makes her home inside another set of lights. After a heaping helping of black-pepper beef and cabbage stir-fry from the Chinese place around the corner, half of which will serve as lunch tomorrow, she's full, legs tucked beneath her, glass of Merlot in hand, as she settles in for a night of forgetting--a task made easy while watching other people's problems neatly resolve during 45-minute-long TV packages.
By now you may be wondering, "What does this have to do with my marketing content?"
The postcard alone, as with much marketing content, paints but a pretty picture. That's all it is--something you can scan quickly, perhaps appreciate quickly, and then forget just as quickly.
It takes a personal interest in or connection with what's being presented--along with imagination and a load of details--to reveal what might lie behind, whether behind a postcard picture or a wall of marketing text.
For instance, take a read of this marketing content:
Name is a certified global leader in doing [this thing]. Utilizing state-of-the-art technologies at [so many] locations around the world, Name engineers partner closely with customers to solve complex [that thing] problems. We strive to provide customers with quality products and exceptional service at competitive prices.
Yes, that's real marketing content, taken from a real website. The text, in fact, comes from a website promoted by a major marketing agency as an example of a world-class site.
Yet this reader <ahem> can't help but read that marketing content and wonder:
Do you see? Marketing content without supporting details, just like a postcard picture without a prompt, without supporting details, is nothing special.
A primary goal of your marketing content is to differentiate. To do so, give readers specific reasons why you're different and better--don't just say that you are. The extra details help to pull readers in, you to stand out, and them to remember. Without details though, there's nothing unique. Nothing to remember. Just a pretty picture. Just generic words.
"Thanks, but no thanks," says your prospect. "Goodbye."
P.S. The postcard that inspired this post comes from my postcard collection. If you like postcards, or learning neat tidbits about other cultures and countries, check out my sorely neglected postcard blog: www.TheLaptopTraveler.com. I've still been collecting ... just haven't had time to scan and post to the blog. Maybe one day!
P.P.S. It's late July, 2017, and I just received a sample calendar from a promotional products company. Flipping through it, I spotted the same image I talk about in this blog post as the "image" for November, 2018. The text on the calendar doesn't say "Central Park," as the postcard does. Instead it says, "Gapstow Bridge, New York," adding yet another detail to the image. Pretty cool!