Yesterday I drove from New York to Boston. Boston is my favorite city in the U.S. It’s also where I meet with many business colleagues and spend time with family.

4 hours in the car, listening to the Adult Hits radio station (yes, I’m that old), allows me plenty of time to think and take in the beautiful New England scenery. But there’s one part of the trip that makes me smile and a wave of nostalgia floods over me:

Highway 95 sign to New London, CT

Sorry about the lopsided picture. One of my kids took it a few years ago as we were driving by. Not always easy to get a straight picture.


In marketing, the conventional wisdom is to keep the messaging short and easy to understand. Or ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ (K.I.S.S.). Just like drivers on the highway, people are passing by your website or blog or social media feeds and they want to get the information they need. As quickly as possible.

When a highway sign says “City XXX, exit 1 mile” that’s all the information a driver needs. They see that and know what they need to do next. Maybe it’s not their exit and so they disregard it. Or maybe it grabs their attention and they want to learn more. “I never thought of visiting that attraction. Maybe we should get off the highway and explore.”

Your job is to catch their attention, provide them with the details they’re seeking and hopefully cause them to take action.

More Than Two Seconds

Even when keeping the messaging simple, we still have to grab the user’s attention. Think about this:

Twitter: Over 50% of tweets have an image/video/GIF. A sharp, engaging image provides a better chance that your organization’s tweet will be read. The trick is to add verbiage that will make followers click on the link in the tweet.

Instagram: 1 billion users. 500,000,000 of them using Instagram Stories DAILY. If your audience is there, then you need to be there and engaging them.

Websites: 47% of users expect a website to load within 2 seconds. That means that your large files need to be reduced. You may have beautiful header images and the right content to go with it. But if someone is frustrated waiting for it to load, they’re gone. Additionally, slow loading times also affects your Google search ranking.

When you’re thinking about K.I.S.S., consider the images you’re using, the content accompanying the images and load time.

Slice of Childhood

The above sign is my favorite highway sign in the U.S. I grew up in New London, CT. Just seeing that sign brings up thousands of wonderful memories and I always, but always, want to abandon my plans for an hour, get off the highway and visit my childhood home. The sign serves as a trigger. It’s simple, short, engaging for me and is a call to action.

That’s all we can ask for in marketing. People are seeing thousands of images, tweets, articles and ads daily. Just trying to get 2 seconds of people’s time is difficult. But when you have their attention, prompt them to act. Right away.

2 summers ago the New London sign grabbed me and I exited highway 95. Drove into New London to see if all the sights were the same as when I lived there from 1977-83. Not much had changed since we moved to Toronto. Actually, that’s not completely true. The house I grew up in? They removed the green paint on the outside and replaced it:

Yesterday I passed that sign but didn’t exit the highway. The sign still holds that same pull for me. Maybe on my way back to New York…

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