The Three Second Rule

Every year, family and friends gather to watch the Super Bowl — this year was an especially good game, at least if you’re a Giants fan. But for many viewers, the best part has nothing to do with what’s happening on the field. It’s all about those commercials. And each year we marketers love to watch the ads and figure out which one we think is the best.

This year I noticed something different. I was struck by how many of them I didn’t get. I mean, I just didn’t “get it.” Thirty or more seconds went by, and I had no clue who was talking to me and/or what they were trying to sell me. All that expense and I missed the point, if there was one at all.

It reminded me of one of my favorite direct marketing rules. You have three seconds. Just three seconds to catch someone’s attention and interest. If you fail, it’s the trash can for even your best catalog. Like many people, I sort my mail over the trash can. Occasionally, I reach down into the can to retrieve something that took 3.5 seconds to grab me, but not often. I’ve even trashed checks that failed to communicate in three seconds. I’m ruthless! And so are your prospects.

With this in mind, ask yourself the following questions, and be brutally honest with yourself. Better still, ask a complete stranger what your prospect mail says after a three-second “flash.”

1. Does your prospect catalog or direct mail piece communicate what you’re selling and provide a call to action that can be understood in three seconds?

2. Do your outbound telephone sales reps capture attention with the purpose of their calls? For example, “I’m calling you today because … (you have three seconds).”

3. Do your keyword search results shout “Click me!” over the competition?

4. Is your landing page relevant to the keyword search? Does it garner prospects’ interest quickly?

5. Are your item pages clear, focused and action-oriented?

6. Are all of your prospect marketing messages/offers easily understood in three seconds?

I’d encourage you to remember this rule when you review your communications. The normal tendency is to include too much in our messages. Keep them simple, single-minded and short with prospects. Remember, you only have three seconds.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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