Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

How to Speak to Shoppers #4

This is the fourth in a series of five blogs we are sharing on How to Speak to Shoppers.

If you want help developing shopper communication based on the principles we are talking about please get in touch.

Right, onto the blog…

Less is More

Below is a list of 50 words. See if you can figure out the connection.

A, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

They are from the book ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr Seuss.

The book was the result of a bet between Seuss and Bennett Cerf, his publisher.

After Seuss completed ‘The Cat in the Hat’ using just 236 words Cerf bet him that he couldn’t write an entire book using a maximum of 50 words.

So, Seuss did it.

Those 50 words are the ONLY words used in the book. And ‘anywhere’ is the ONLY word that has more than one syllable.

Green Eggs and Ham was published on 12th August 1960. It has sold over 8 million copies. Millions more have read it. You’ve probably read it at some point.

Often, less really is more.

Why are we talking about this? When we communicate to shoppers the temptation is to say more.

You’re doing all these great things on sustainability. Shoppers need to know about them all, right? No. No they don’t. They just need to know the most important thing you are doing.

Your product has lots of benefits. It’s tasty. Healthy. Convenient. Great value. Shoppers need to know about them all, right? No. No they don’t. They just need to know the most important benefit.

Don’t give shoppers more reasons to buy you. Give them less reasons to buy you.

So, how can you make sure that less is more?

WHAT TO SAY. Identify your main thing. This means the thing that really matters to shoppers. That drives choice. That can get shoppers to buy Category A over Category B. Brand A over Brand B. If cleaning performance really matters, that is your main thing. If taste really matters, that is your main thing.

It means being distinctive. Having a differentiated angle. Something that is specific not generic. Ideally, saying something that only you can say. If you’re Innocent, it’s not “low in sugar,” it’s “We never add sugar. Never have, never will.”

It means choosing. Getting off the fence and picking ONE thing to lead on. The ONE thing that you direct shopper attention to. Activia tastes pretty good. It’s low fat. It has no added sugar. But its superpower is Gut Health. They have chosen that to be their main thing.

Remember the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

HOW TO SAY IT. Be simple and compelling. This means using few words. For instance, Hellmann’s “make taste not waste.” It means using short words. For instance, Wrigley’s “got gum?” It means using everyday language. Don’t talk about the ingredient (e.g. jojoba oil) when you can talk about the benefit (e.g. shiny hair).

It means being directive. Telling shoppers what to do. For instance, “eat more fish.” It could mean telling them when to do it. For instance, “use after every shower.” It could mean telling them how to do it. For instance, “just add water.”

It means being memorable. Through differentiated language. For instance, Bread & Butter Wine. None of the usual flowery pairing nonsense for them, just “pairs well with a glass.” Through dramatisation. For instance, Oatly’s “wow no cow.” Through recognition. For instance, Kleenex “save the sleeve.” We’ve all done it.

There is a LOT that we could say. But there is much LESS that we should say.

To simplify is to amplify.

Look out for the final blog of the “How to Speak to Shoppers” series next Friday.

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