I'm so glad there's still so much of this about... shop fronts with confusing, cluttered displays; exhibition stands with something a little short of "War and Peace" written on the walls; and website home pages cluttered with everything the owner wants to get across, all in one shot. Why am I glad? Well with competition like that it makes business easier for those who do understand how to attract attention.
Think about it. You're walking down the high street and something catches your eye. It could be a bold display, big words or interesting movement, but if you analyse what caught your attention you'll find that it won't be paragraphs of tiny writing or racks and racks of products on display.
So why do so many companies exhibiting at trade shows, and so many websites not see the problem? Well typically they are very enthusiastic about their products and want to make sure that every angle is covered. Let's pick an example, say, a computer software maker where the software is applicable to multiple industry sectors. The thinking might go something like this:
"I want to make sure that if a banker walks past they'll see something finance industry related. And the same goes for telecomms, pharmaceuticals, ... So what I need is a bunch of industry icons and messages for each saying why my software is great for them."
However, when the banker walks past the exhibition stand, all they see is a wall of icons and words. In their 3 second walk past they're not going to notice the finance-specific message, so they'll simply keep on walking. Same goes for websites - you've just got seconds to get attention, otherwise it's the "Back" button and on to the next site.
How do we fix this? Focus on a single, core message. What's the one great thing you can say about your product that will get the attention of most prospects? It's tricky, but well worth the effort.