When creating a website, a brochure, or an ad, many people believe that the best approach is to be as simple and straightforward as possible. And, for many of those people, being simple and straightforward means using brief bullet points instead of sentences and paragraphs.
“The only thing that matters is the facts” they say. “Nobody has time for fluff” they insist. “All anyone cares about is the down and dirty” they declare. “We’re far too serious and too busy for anything else,” they aver. “People make decisions by using facts,” they assert.
Bullet points are certainly more economical in terms of time and space, but they actually provide a false economy. You see, choosing bullet points presupposes that your audience is made up of rational creatures — and that just isn’t the case.
We human beings like to pretend that we’re rational animals, but the fact is we’re anything but. Whether you’re talking about a complex circuit board or a new car, our process of making choices begins at a emotional level. Once we’ve found that emotional trigger (what many call a “gut feeling”), we start to gather the rational facts that support it. Take that circuit board. We won’t even consider buying it unless we develop the confidence that it will solve our need. Confidence is an emotional need, not a logical component.
Simply put, bullet points can’t sing. They can’t entertain. They can’t enthrall. And most of all, they don’t sound like people talking. Your marketing and communications materials stand in for you when you’re not able to deliver messages in person. To do that effectively, they have to sound like you and/or your company. They have to speak with your voice. That’s what builds trust and familiarity. That’s what overcomes objections and moves people to take action. It’s actually a kind of romancing.
When you rely solely on bullet points, your voice becomes that of a robot spewing out a long list of facts. If you wouldn’t describe your product or service that way in person, don’t do it in your marketing materials.
Still don’t believe me? Compare what you just read to the following:
– Bullet points are popular
– Users focus on facts
– Users presume that people are rational
– Decisions begin with emotion
– Bullet points lack emotion
– Bullet points don’t sound like you.
Not quite as compelling or instructive, is it?