by Tony Vidler
One of Steve Jobs more famous quotes is the line which encapsulated his approach to design:
While beautiful design is not really the forte of professional services firms, we do share something in common with Apple back when it was first launching Ipods and then Ipads and then Iphones:
The market didn’t know what these things were, and therefore didn’t know that they needed them.
Just like a lot of professional services and financial products really. We try and convince the market place that they need things which they do not know about or understand. So how we communicate is critical.
While it may be perfectly acceptable for 16 year olds to be given a passing grade at school while using text-language, that same language just doesn’t cut it professionally in today’s market. We all know that. But in fact, it is way more important to construct and use language well than we realise. Readers often don’t consciously correct language or grammar errors, but research shows that there is some form of subconscious processing going on that has an impact if we get it very wrong.
A recent piece of research surveyed 800 professionals in a bid to better understand the impact of quality on content marketing, however the lessons extend beyond just how our marketing is perceived by strangers I believe. To test the impact of “quality” in communications they produced essentially the same content in two versions; the second of which was of slightly reduced quality. The slightly reduced quality is largely things like missing apostrophes, a couple of small spelling errors…that sort of thing. The second “lower quality” message is still perfectly comprehensible. Frankly, it is still reasonably high quality when compared to a lot of the inane messaging which occurs in business today.
The impact of getting the details right however were significant. The piece of marketing collateral where attentions to detail was given created a positive impression in 55% of the readers, whereas the other version only generated a positive impression with 23%. Perhaps first impressions don’t matter though?
Well, on the quality content 60% of readers said they would click on the call-to-action, whereas only 21% said they would do so on the lower quality content. 51% of readers on the quality version said they would buy from the company, as opposed to just 21% from the poorer quality content.
The impact of not paying attention to the details is significant. Dramatically lower positive impression levels and probability of converting prospects into clients simply because of a few missing apostrophes. Arguably, our existing clients would be a lot more forgiving than strangers who are forming first impressions from our marketing collateral or written communication with them. But what is “a lot”? Twice as forgiving maybe? So instead of 21% of strangers being willing to click on the call-to-action in a campaign we could get 42% of clients doing so? That still leaves a lot less than the 60% of strangers who were willing to click on the call-to-action of the well-produced piece of content.
We know it instinctively because as individuals we all do it ourselves: we form opinions and impressions from the smallest of details. Sometimes they are seeming so small that they are insignificant and we do not even process them consciously. But that computer called
“the mind” is processing everything it sees and also everything it expected to see but which wasn’t there….and it makes a decision: “too much missing…you’re out”. We do it ourselves, so you can bet your bottom dollar that every prospect out there in world is doing it to you.
We can have a giggle when we see the difference little details make to simple messages like the following:
The bottom line is “details matter”. They can make or break the success of your marketing message.