In our "communication overload" society, copywriters and marketers are trying willingly to reach an information-hungry audience in a very competitive environment. Millions of words and images compete for a very finite amount of comprehension and retention "brain space." It is the job of the effective communicator to bridge that ever-widening span with information that communicates clearly, quickly and correctly.
Today's information audience is trying to glean what it needs from an ever-growing number of information providers. News has been reduced to snippets and sound bites, aiming to grab the viewer or listener in a "drive-by newsing." Those who want more information in greater detail are usually relegated to newsmagines or other periodicals which provide greater depth and breadth to the topic in which they are most interested. In order to attract your audience and hold them for the duration of your message, try constructing an "Information Sandwich" to communicate your most salient points and draw your message's recipient into a position to get further information if they so desire.
For the purposes of our illustration we will describe each element in the order a sandwich is assembled. Here's how it works:
The Bread: This is the part of the story that holds your message together. By putting together a brief outline that describes the most critical elements of your story, you can determine what / is the most important aspect (s) of your story that you simply can not do without. The bread part of your Information Sandwich will allow you to transition effectively from your headline to the heart of your message. The bread will typically consist of supportive facts or statements that support the stated premise of what you are trying to achieve. Typically, this would be no more than 4-5 facts or selling points – you are not making a "Dagwood Bumstead Special" here – your goal is to catch the reader's attention, draw them in, give them enough information to what their appetite, and provide them the means to gather more information if necessary. Remember – provide information in short, targeted "bites' to make your points quickly.
The Dressing: This is your headline and subhead. Just as the dressing gains a real sandwich by heightening the flavor of the meat and bread, the dressing of your Information Sandwich will serve the same purpose. A well-thought out headline can communicate more in a few words than some article articles. What's more, the right title can accomplish three things very quickly:
1.) It can catch the reader's eye.
2.) It can provide a clear lead-in to your story.
3.) It can compel the reader to choose your information over many others. The subhead, if available, can further embellish the title and pull the reader in if the headline does not quite do the trick.
The Meat : This is the true "heart" of your message. In a nutshell, this the centerpiece of what your whole "information Sandwich" is. This is what you want your reader to understand is the Most Desired Action. If your sandwich's bread and dressing are in place, you'd better have enough meat to leave your reader with a good taste in his / her mouth. Too often, messages are "all flash and sizzle with no steak,"
By stressing brevity and clarity, you will spend less energy on "overselling" and more on communicating. You always want your reader to feel satisfied, but wanting more at the same time. The right mixture of well-chosen ingredients are the heart of any successful recipe. Use this formula on your next information project and test it on a few "hungry minds." You might find it will "hit the spot" in communicating your message effectively.