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Simple is Better

In the ever-changing world of advertising, one fact remains the same: Simple is better. This holds true for just about every type of business out there; whether they use television, radio, print ads or banners. Most of all, banners.

By James Mayes

In todayís fast paced world, most people do not have time to read long, elaborate banners, because they are usually in a rush for work or school, or they are late picking up the kids from soccer practice, late for a doctors appointment, etc. Generally, they don't have time to read a banner with a lot of words in it.

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  • Saying it the right way

    For example, take two convenience stores across the street from each other at an intersection. Both stores have banners out in front with the sole purpose of attracting new customers.

    Let us say the first store is Paul's Convenience Store. The banner says: "Paul's Convenience Store/Gas/Drinks/Coffee/Snacks/We Strive for Customer Satisfaction!"

    "We Strive for Customer Satisfaction" would be the main point of the banner. However, it was at the bottom of the banner, and several other things have to be read before reaching it. When someone is at the traffic light, they are waiting for the light to change and reading just about everything around them just to pass time. It's a good chance they won't make it to the bottom of banner for two simple reasons. First, they are pressed for time, glancing back and forth from the light to the different banners placed around, which means they are only scanning the banner, reading just a few words to see if it strikes an interest. Second, when they read the first part of the banner, they already know it is a convenience store, and they already know what convenience stores have to offer. So chances are, once they take their eyes off the banner, they will stay off.

    The second store is Missy's Convenience Store. Their banner says: "20 oz Dr. Pepper: 2/$1."

    The banner has a total of three words and three numbers, which is very easy for the brain to compute in a very short amount of time. The banner is read in less than a second. However, this is what it says to the customer. First of all, people who drink Dr. Pepper find this to be a very good deal. Does the other store have good deals like this? Who knows? The other banner just said something about gas or something. This store has a good deal on Dr. Pepper, and they know it. The banner also says other things. For people who drink Coke, Pepsi or other products, it makes them wonder if the other drinks in the store are reasonably priced as well. They know the store has them, because what store in the world carries Dr. Pepper and nothing else? If the store carries drinks, obviously it carries snacks and coffee as well, so those words aren't needed in the banner. Gas pumps can be seen outside, so they have gas as well. If they are letting people know they are having a sale, they must care about customer satisfaction. Missy's convenience store banner says everything the other one says!

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    It's hard to believe that one little banner, with those few words on it, could say so much, but when people are sitting at a traffic light, it says a lot in the mind. The same goes for drivers going down the road. They have a very short span of time to take their eyes off the road and read something. Because of this, the second banner comes in handy as well. Its letters are bigger, and can be read from a moving car. The more letters on a sign, either the smaller the letters, or the bigger the sign. A bigger sign is more money, considering most sign companies charge by size, and not what is on it. A large amount of words, no matter how big the font is, are just as hard to read. So it really isn't better to make a bigger sign, for words that won't be read, and pay more money.

    Using banners to attract customers

    This same theory doesn't just go for convenience stores. It can be used for any retailer out there. Take restaurants for example. If two restaurants were on the same road a couple of blocks apart, they would need to compete for customers.

    Gregg's Mexican Restaurant has a banner up with its name, (even though their name is on top of the restaurant!), and then a big, elaborate description of one of their dishes. "Try our new, chicken pasta dish! Fresh and hot, with lot's of peppers and onions to make your mouth water. Cooked in an authentic Mexican sauce with queso on the top!" Next to it is a picture of the dish.

    The point of the banner is to make people hungry for it and go to their restaurant. Unfortunately, it didn't make a customer hungry for the dish. It made them hungry for Mexican food.

    Johns Mexican Restaurant has a banner up as well. It simply says: Lunch specials starting at $4.25. Which restaurant will people more likely go into? Well, they are already hungry for Mexican food because of the other banner, but this place has lunch specials for $4.25! So in the mind of the new customer, they have a picture from banner 1, and the price for banner 2! They know both places serve Mexican food, but they know restaurant two has a really good special. In all actuality, banner 2 was more effective, because it brought in more new customers. Not to mention, it cost about half the amount to make it.

    (Without looking, what did banner 1 say? Did you have to think about it? What about banner 2? Go back and look at it to see how close you were on the two banners.)

    Of course, you do not always make the decision on what will go on a banner that a customer orders, but you are the expert and can suggest a simpler approach that will help to increase their business. Explain to your customer that, overall, simple banners are just plain better. It gets the customerís attention, it is easier to read, it gets the point across fast, and in most cases, it cost less. When it comes to creating an effective banner, just remember to go against everything that was taught in school, and DON'T use your imagination! Keep it simple!

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