Better marketing: Leave out key information

Even though no one really seems to believe in transparency — hence the existence of silos — we still live in a time where transparency seems to be something more people are chasing. Depending on who you believe, this could be the true future of work as the millennial generation becomes the workforce generation. (Or not.)


That’s all a long way of saying this: look at the image to the left. The white circles you see — and the white diagonal lines — don’t really exist, and yet, they’re the most fundamentally interesting aspect of the image. If you try to ignore them, you can’t. As Harvard Business Review explains:

As any visual artist will tell you, the white space is just as important as the drawing. In music, too, the pauses matter just as much as the sound. And yet in business, we rush to fill any empty space with noise — a new offer, more features, another conference call.

Now think about this. Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world at MacWorld 2007:

That was in January. The first iPhone went on sale in June. What happened between the two times (six months)? Here’s the HBR explanation:

In between? Radio silence: no publicity, no promotions, no leaks to press, no price discounts, no prototypes to reviewers, no advertising blitz, no preordering. There was essentially an embargo on official information with only the Jobs demo online to reference until just before the on sale date. The bloggers and Apple loyalists took over, interpreted and extrapolated, completed the picture as it were, and the iPhone “tipped” before it ever went on sale, with over 20 million people expressing an intent to buy.

I had a similar situation at WordCamp in Fort Worth this weekend: during one session, we were talking about getting comments on your blog, as opposed to on social media when your blog is shared. To run across a blog with a lot of comments — news flash: this isn’t one of them — gives it some contextual heft, so it’s something bloggers chase (to an extent). But if you share your stuff to get it seen more and people make the comments on FB instead, what can you do (aside from integrating the log-in)?

Well, one of the speakers talked about “teasing content” — basically putting a social media post about something that will be on the blog, and then seeing if that drives people over there. It’s interesting, and as this blog becomes more mature, it’s something I might consider.

The broader lesson here, though: leave things out. Be an enigma, or a mystery, and you might draw more people to your content. That’s essentially the first rule of most art (music, painting, etc.), and yet … the way business works is different.

In business, when there’s a gap or a silence, the idea is to fill it with noise: meetings, conference calls, being busy. Take into account attention spans and there’s almost no link between how our brain works to process information and how we use our brain at work. Seems like a disconnect, no?



Ted Bauer

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