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Good Marketing is Not an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet, Obviously

You’ve seen them at buffets. Perhaps you’re one yourself. People who make sure that every millimeter of their plate is covered with food. Food piled high into a precarious pyramid that makes middle school health teachers weep.

(And then there are the Double Platers, but they’re at a whole other level.)

Why do they do this? More often than any other reason, the answer is this:

Gotta get my money’s worth!

I’ve been guilty of this. Especially with pizza or Chinese buffets. And then I spend the next several hours groaning, uncomfortable and complainy.

But I got my money’s worth.

Much like cramming too much food into your gullet at a buffet, a similar mistake is often made with marketing — cramming too much info into advertisements.

Going wall-to-wall in a print ad.

Talking extra fast to squeeze another sentence into a commercial.

Using multiple exclamation marks because they don’t cost extra.

But unlike buffet bloat, a bloated ad doesn’t just leave people groaning, uncomfortable and complainy — A bloated ad will, most likely, just be ignored.

And that’s not getting your money’s worth.

Let’s continue the food theme, mostly because I ate ramen noodles for lunch and I’m still hungry.

Imagine yourself in a restaurant that has a menu with only two entrées, both priced at $35…

1) grilled bacon-wrapped 5-ounce beef tenderloin filet mignon
2) boiled 80-ounce mystery meat mass that’s mostly gristle and connective tissue

Either choice would, most likely, be memorable, but only the filet would be memorable in a good way.

Choose quality over quantity.

In marketing, this translates to focusing on a single, strong, standout, memorable message.

Give it some room to breathe.

In today’s world, it’s easy to get lost in the clutter. If your message is a jumble of clutter to begin with, your efforts are doomed.

Brevity is most often key to a great message, but there are exceptions:

Back when FedEx was Federal Express, they used “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” as their tagline. Long but strong. These days, their tagline is supposedly “The World on Time.” but I don’t remember ever hearing that before now. Short but meh.

NyQuil’s original “The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.” was a thing of beauty.

And not a slogan, but “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” for McDonald’s Big Mac also sticks with you. Especially when sung.

But your odds for success are a bit better when you stick to the just-do-it, like-a-rock, think-different, got-milk variety.

So what am I trying to say here?

Don’t stuff your ads.

And always leave room for dessert.

Clayton Hove is the creative director at KK BOLD and this blog post has made us very hungry.