Three Reasons Not to Use More Than Three Main Points in Customer Messaging

  1. You won’t have a crisp, distinct message.

Your offering is so good you can think of at least twenty cool features that might attract customers. Why not list all of them in your message?  More is better, right?  I once was helping a Gold Team review during an intense competition for an international defense contract.  It was only a short time until the proposal had to be submitted.  We were examining key win themes.  The group’s PowerPoint chart listed so many “key” discriminators that it was in 8-point font, barely visible from the front row.  While admirable as a collaborative effort, it was confusing: no point was left behind.  They were all technically correct, totally comprehensive and about as useful as throwing a handful of darts and hoping one hit the target.  It’s best to clear away the clutter in your messages.  I really like how Corporate Visions handles this in their messaging courses: select three attributes of your offering that are (1) of value to the customer, (2) easy to defend, and (3) unique to you.  By following this advice, we scrubbed that theme list and created three main points – and a winning proposal.

  1. The customer won’t remember your points.

You heard a great presentation yesterday.  The speaker was memorable, the venue was memorable and you had the feeling that what was said should be memorable.  But the speaker’s “Eight Ways to Squeeze More Profit” are not memorable.  Why?  After 24 hours most people only remember about a third of new information (and after a week only about a tenth).  That’s the Forgetting Curve hypothesized by Dr. Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885.  Not surprisingly, no one can remember with certainty who the first person was to declare we can only remember three things at a time.  We often can remember the first and last, but not all that stuff in between.  There was a CEO of a large corporation who wanted to instill greater leadership attributes in his rank and file.  He tasked the HR department to explore it. They arranged corporate-wide focus groups and contracted with a known and expensive consulting firm to flesh out the model, polish the product and roll it out.  But everyone had trouble remembering those five main points.  And they were good ones.  The initiative died.

  1. You won’t remember your points.

Because you’re human like your customers, you also have trouble remembering more than three things at a time.  When your customer asks “How does your new organic scintillation counter operate?” what happens inside your head?  Does it explode with indecision on where to start and end or does it snap into action recalling your three main points?  Three main points, particularly if associated with customer-refined ROI, can be the foundation of your elevator pitch, your marketing campaign, your sales presentation, your proposal’s executive summary and your customer delivery plan.  Three main points give you and your team (1) focus, (2) clarity and (3) cohesion. They are (1) brief, (2) compelling and (3) memorable – to you as well as your customer.

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