Here's something that everyone can agree with: When it comes to communication, instant gratification takes too long.

For example, even avid fans of podcasts are finding that they don't have time to listen the regular way, according to The Wall Street Journal. So these speed demons have figured out how to adjust settings so the podcast plays up to four times faster, making it possible to devour hour-long episodes in minutes.

Meanwhile, over in the land of apps, our expectations continue to increase about how quickly an app is ready to use. A company called PacketZoom just analyzed a collection of news apps to see how quickly content loaded on users' smartphones. The winners were TopBuzz, BBC News, FOX News and NBC News, with The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Huffington Post apps ranking among the slowest.

"Today's consumers crave instant information, so it is especially important for . . . media apps to optimize their performance," said. Shlomi Gian, PacketZoom's CEO.

But here's the interesting part: The difference between the fastest and slowest apps was just a few seconds.

That's right: We've gotten so impatient that we won't wait even for a moment.

The psychologists call that syndrome "instant gratification." "Humans are hardwired to want things--now," writes Neil Patel in Entrepreneur. "Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment." And it's "fueled by modern devices and information exchange."

So how can you communicate so quickly that you take advantage of your audience's need for instant gratification--even if you only have three seconds to get your message across?

Since you don't have time to waste, I'll make it quick:

  • Analyze what matters most to your audience. The better you know the people you're trying to reach, the more you'll know what appeals to them.
  • Sacrifice secondary content for your primary focus. As marketing guru Harry Beckwith famously wrote, Positioning "must be singular. It must set you apart from your competitors. You must sacrifice. You cannot be all things to all people: you must focus on one thing."
  • Be briefer than you ever thought possible. Don't worry about word count; just cut and cut until just the nugget is left.
  • Limit your vocabulary to sixth-grade level or even lower. Choose simple words over university language. (Any time you use a three- or four-syllable word, consider whether there's a shorter word that will work better.)
  • Use visuals to instantly convey what words cannot.
  • Reduce friction. In communication, friction occurs when an audience member is intrigued by a topic, but then encounters resistance on his/her quest to engage with content. So think about how to make the experience easier.
  • Offer a personal experience. Talking to someone (by phone, chat or even in person) can be an easier way for audience members to get what they need than navigating a website or app. So create a person-to-person option.
  • Provide an easy way to learn more. Most people will just want a bite of information, but some will crave a snack (and a few will actually be hungry enough for a meal). So provide the amuse bouche along with an easy way to get more substance.

Finally, keep at it. Since everything happens so quickly, you can always try again in a few minutes.

Published on: Jul 19, 2017
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