Don't have time to read? Listen to the article instead

There are many challenges content marketers face on the journey from concept all the way to campaign roll-out. From people who wouldn’t recognise a good copy if it was rattling the chair they were sitting on to low budgets, poor resources and bad design execution – we’ve really got our work cut out for us.

Still, nothing turns content marketing into a bursting soap bubble better than TMI. Too Much Information impacts the content itself, the design, the distribution and, ultimately, the brand. Today we’re going to see how.

The Content

You can put together a million different strategies, on a million different channels and with just as many distribution tactics, but every story starts with content. It doesn’t take a wiz to figure out how TMI affects content. Our challenge is understanding what it does 5 steps down the line to our audience.

If you’re looking to scare off a user, nothing will do the trick quite as effectively as slamming a wall of text in their faces. No matter how pretty it looks and how much formatting you’ve crammed in there, people will invest time in reading something only if that something is worth reading.

Tutorials, news, well-crafted opinions and the likes fall into this category. 150 words describing a single company value does not. This is important to you, not your audience. Decide on one thing you want to communicate and do it in the shortest, most compelling way possible.

One of the two galaxies seen here by the Hubble Space Telescope (@nasahubble) is emitting the same microwaves as your kitchen appliance. Microwaves are actually produced by a multitude of astrophysical sources, including strong emitters known as masers (microwave lasers), even stronger emitters with the somewhat villainous name of megamasers and the centers of some galaxies. The lower, blue-tinted galaxy is a special kind of megamaser. The galaxy’s active galaxtic nucleus pumps out huge amounts of energy, which stimulates clouds of surrounding water. Water’s constituent atoms of hydrogen and oxygen are able to absorb some of this energy and re-emit it at specific wavelengths, one of which falls within the microwave regime. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA #nasa #space #hubble #hubblespacetelescope #spacetelescope #telescope #galaxy #galactic #spothubble #universe #microwaves #radiowaves

A post shared by NASA (@nasa) on

NASA is a great example of adapting to your audience. Could they have written 3,500 words in that caption to describe microwaves? Easily. Instead, they’ve gone for a mix of pretty pictures and dumbed-down science that gets the message across to the broader public.  The image and the copy compliment each other and one couldn’t work without the other.

The Design

I can’t believe we’re still preaching this sermon but there’s no design without content. So if you’ve asked your designer to come up with a flyer and you’ve given him or her a 1,200 word-long copy, I’m afraid you’re not very clear on the definition of a flyer. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round whole, it’ll never work.

A lot of times designers get blamed for, well…bad design, when in fact, they’ve been asked to deliver on something impossible. There is no magical design tool that can fix crappy, bloated copy that takes up a lot of space and says very little. So you’re not just messing up your own work but that of your designer too.

If you don’t have a lot of experience with a particular format, there’s no shame in googling the living daylights out of it. You’d be amazed at how many examples you can find online.  There’s also no shame in collaborating with your designers and asking them for a recommended word count, with and without imagery to break up your wall of text.

I love this little trip back in motor history from Citroen. Thanks to the minimal amount of information, they were able to really bring the car into focus, along with its spot in time and some essential specs. I encourage you to explore this gorgeous website for yourself.

The Distribution

Bloated copy doesn’t lend itself to a great number of effective reuses or repackages. Your 35 page PDF brochure on your company culture can live on your website and a handful of online services to which you can link and that’s pretty much it. Not to mention we’re talking about a PDF so buh-bye SEO.

Because of its length and format, dumping it on social media will be about as effective and throwing it in the trash can. Actually, I strongly encourage you do just that with any 10+ page PDF on a single company topic.

Doing anything else with it, means you’re building new copy – so what’s the point of serving a small book to people who barely have the attention span to read through a one-pager?

“Morning essentials at Yellowstone National Park.” – @lumadeline

A post shared by Danner (@dannerboots) on

From social media (that includes Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more) to website, newsletters and even brochures – this short, snappy piece of content from Danner doesn’t just look awesome, it’s reusable top to bottom.

The Brand

When all you’re doing is building long-winded presentations, busy designs, and copy that’s so high-level it’s right up there with Burj Khalifa, your audience isn’t interacting with or retaining any of the information you’re distributing – so what’s the point? What have they really learned about your brand and what it’s trying to achieve? Not much.

on delivering a better content experience

In the eyes of  users who’ve been exposed to this type of content multiple times, the brand becomes the annoying aunt whom everyone’s learned to tune out as she drums on about politics around the dinner table.

The Bottom Line

In many circles, sadly, content marketing is viewed like nothing more than producing content. The more we generate, the bulkier it is and the more often we come up with it, the better.

What this mindset leads to is too much information crammed into designs it was never meant for, used through channels it has no chance of ever succeeding, frustrated marketers, designers and users. Ultimately, we end up building content for content’s sake and that doesn’t help anyone, least of all the brand.

© 2017 Shoestrings & Fancy Things. All Rights Reserved.