Not too much…


You’re at a networking mixer. In the half-hour for cocktails before tonight’s speaker, six or seven people introduce themselves to you. How much of what they said did you hear?


A postcard arrives in he mail from the new restaurant down the street. How long did you take to read it?


You’ve got to have the cool new striped tires that your friend next door’s got for his tractor before lawnmowing season begins in earnest and you’re considered hopelessly out-of-it by all the cool neighbors, so you noodle around on the web for a while to see if you can find them without having to be so uncool as to ask.

When you land on one of the twenty sites that carry the new Beach Bum Tractor Tires, how long do you spend scrolling around the home page before you decide to buy there or keep looking?

In each case:

Unless you’re a very patient person, the answer is less than 15 seconds.

You heard the first bit of what the people who introduced themselves to you said, and decided right then whether you’d keep the card they handed you or discreetly throw it later.

You read the postcard’s headline and the offer. Probably not in that order. Then you looked at the logo, remembered “Oh, yeah, that’s the new place down the way” (meaning the message was relevant to you), decided whether the offer was interesting, and held onto or tossed the card—all while poised over the trash can with the rest of the mail ready to follow it.

You did not see the name of the site or their nice intro copy. You caught the picture of the owner out of the corner of your eye (faces catch us first), you read some bolds and headlines, not necessarily in the order they were intended to be read, some words or images caught you or they didn’t. You got a trustworthy vibe or you didn’t. And it all happened in about fifteen seconds.

You know how you behaved when meeting new people—at a mixer you chose to attend, when holding your “junk” mail—with a nearby restaurant’s grand opening in the pile, and when surfing the www—for tires you just have to have to keep getting invited to the Homeowner’s Summer B-B-Q.

So why do we persist in thinking that when people meet us, see the direct mailers we send out, or click through to our website, they’ll listen longer, absorb more, do things in the order we want and read or listen from start to finish?

You’re not alone. I have to remind myself over and over again, even though I watch the results of this completely natural impatience and not-necessarily-logical order all the time.

This week I’ve seen a few too many examples in website user testing, clearly destroying the owners’ chances to get their message across, so I thought maybe I’d help you become part of our very select club here at Maximum Customer Experience: the 15-second club.

Got something to say? Get it said in 15 seconds. The first 15 seconds.

Everything else is fluff. Nice fluff, I’m sure, but for all but a patient few, it’s fluff.

Are you with me, 15-seconders? Go forth and communicate!

But not too much.


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson