The Myth of Written Messages

Posted by on Jan 16 2014

Wandering down the street in New York City early one morning, I noticed a group of people standing in front of the doors to Macy’s department store. Since it was 9:00 a.m., I assumed they were waiting for the store to open.

But as I walked by I noticed a sign in every door that clearly said: Store Hours 10AM – 9PM. So why were they standing there an hour before the store opened? Was some sort of special event going on?

As I walked closer to the huddled group, one of the women motioned to the Macy’s security guard and asked, “What time does the store open?”

I am not kidding. She actually asked that, even though she was just six feet away from the Store Hours sign. She had been standing and staring at the door for at least three minutes. The store hours sign is in every door at eye-level. Yet she still preferred to ask another person to verify the truth of the sign.

What does this mean to the small business owner?

  • Just because you put something in a conspicuous place doesn’t mean they’ll see it, whether it’s on your office door or on your website.
  • Just because you write about the benefits of your product or service doesn’t mean people will never have a question about whether those benefits apply in their particular situation.
  • Just because you write something in your marketing brochure doesn’t mean people will read it or understand it.
  • Just because you have Frequently Asked Questions on your website doesn’t mean people will read it, or believe that it applies to them.

We work so hard to craft good written messages, but for many people, the written message is only half of the picture. So what are creative solutions?

  • Use graphics and images to also portray the message.
  • Use audio so they can hear you as well as see you.
  • Repeat the message often.
  • Be prepared to answer questions in a gracious and courteous manner…even if you’ve answered those same questions a thousand times before.

The security guard at Macy’s was a gentleman and a customer service expert. He said in a genuinely pleasant and smiling manner, “Oh, yes, ma’am, the store opens at 10:00 a.m. and I hope you’ll have a wonderful shopping experience here at Macy’s.”

Smart cookie.


1 comment for now

One Response to “The Myth of Written Messages”

  1. My wise business coach keeps telling me this. And I keep listening! 🙂

    I am a reader, reader, reader! I read EVERYTHING that comes into my inbox, on my Facebook page, etc. I love reading for information and perspective, and I was assuming others did too.

    But you are right, when I started mixing up the marketing messages, my business shifted, big time. I’ve added images, audio, and live calls to the roster over the past year. And I’m looking forward to delving into podcasting soon. I’m currently getting comfortable with video.

    Thank you for your post! It’s spot on!

    23 Feb 2014 at 9:55 am

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