Pretend for a moment that you’ve agreed to play in a community softball game, strictly for some lighthearted fun.
You step up to the plate. Before you’re ready, the pitcher delivers a screamingly fast pitch over the plate, then another, and another. After a dizzying strikeout, you start planning your polite but speedy exit from the game.
Now picture yourself walking up to the plate again. This time, the pitcher smiles, gives you a nod, then starts the windup. The pitch comes right into your strike zone, at a speed that gives you time to find a connection and hit the ball. As you run the bases, you’re fully engaged, never doubting that you’ll stay in the game.
These two scenarios are a little like the different ways in which companies communicate with their customers.
When a marketing piece — say, a brochure — starts out like a slow pitch, it allows the reader to approach the information easily, at an enjoyable pace. Content starts out in an approachable way, then builds in intensity to include more detail and more density.
We call this a pacing strategy.
If softball isn’t your thing, you can also think of pacing strategy like dating. To succeed in the love game, you’ve got to draw your target in slowly at first with a little small talk. Only then can you unload your life story and the fifty reasons why you’d make a good spouse.
Pummeling your readers with too-much-too-fast can be a turnoff for new or ambivalent prospects, who aren’t ready for all your information right out of the gate. They need an emotional connection before they engage with your message. That emotion doesn’t come from the details; it comes from things like a great photo, a captivating headline, white space, and eye-catching color. Once engaged, your reader will hang on — and read more.
For your next marketing design project, take a moment to consider how it will be paced for the best audience engagement. Determine if a slow-pitch approach will make your message more persuasive and effective.
Chances are, it’ll be a home run.