Top 5 Reasons to Write a Top 5 List: Getting Straight To The Point With “Listicles”

The success of marketing relies on a number of factors working together as a cohesive unit – media placement, cost efficiency, branding, and of course, the right messaging presented in the right format. We want messaging that can be consumed by key viewers and absorbed easily.list-articles

Enter the “listicle”.

For those of you who haven’t heard the term, a listicle is an article written in the form of a list. “10 Quick Tips for Diet Success”, “8 Fool-proof Ways to DIY Your Kitchen”, “Top 5 Reasons to Write a Top 5 List”, etc.

So, why do we write this way? What makes it effective?

1.) Avoid Information Overload
Messaging is dictated by the way the audience digests information, and particularly in this era of information overload, the only way to cut through the clutter is to make it clear and concise. A listicle forces the writer to choose one specific topic, stick to it, and simplify it into a numbered list.

2.) People are Busy, Lists are Not
Listicles have become incredibly popular over the last few years for this reason. Admit it, you would absolutely read the 10 Quick Tips for Diet Success before you read the Big Book of Diets (ain’t nobody got time for that). It’s not as detailed, but it gets you what you need to know – fast.

3.) Easy to Understand
Before you even start, you know exactly what you’re going to learn. The information is organized and curated to provide a simple introduction to the topic, digestible by a person at any level of familiarity with it.

4.) Applicable Across Multiple Platforms
We can use listicles like this for many applications, from search engine optimization and social media engagement, to videos and collateral pieces. They’re shareable in the digital age, but also easily adapted to print.

5.) Low Commitment
People prefer not to get too invested with their time or their effort until they know what they’re getting into. This applies to big things like a home purchase or college decision, as well as something mundane, like reading an article or watching a video. In this format, it’s a lower commitment. It gives the reader the option to get the gist with as little time and effort as possible.

The Life Cycle of Junk Mail

junk-mailYou pull in the driveway after a long day at work. Hands full with bags of groceries, you grab the mail and make your way into the house. Flip through the envelopes, the bills, the magazines, toss aside anything that doesn’t look immediately important, and move on with your life.

But every now and then, one catches your eye, and it makes you think. When we’ve done our job right, it makes you care enough to take the next step and take action.

There is the advertiser’s challenge: How do we find a space in your life and make an impression? How do we make our product matter to you through a piece of paper you might only glance at?

Let me tell you, creating something that doesn’t become “junk mail” is the result of hours of meetings, production work, and research. From the time we begin to the time it reaches your home, it’s likely already been in the works for over a month.

It starts with the creative strategy and writing team. What are we selling? Why? Who are we selling it to? What’s the headline? What’s the special offer or message? A strategically sound creative foundation is imperative, and it usually takes a lot of misses to find the one direction that might be a hit.

Then, the designers get their hands on it, making sure the piece incorporates all the important text, cohesive and consistent branding elements, uses quality paper/print media, and has the proper messaging hierarchy. That’s where simple words are transformed into a compelling visual – never underestimate the power of a great design.

The media buyers have to scout out the right audience, buy or curate the right lists, and negotiate the best prices. Successful marketing comes down to the numbers, and great results don’t always have a hefty price tag if you have the right media placement and savvy buyers.

After rounds of revisions, tweaks, and approvals, it finally goes out to the client who also has rounds of revisions, tweaks, and approvals to go through.

The result is a simple postcard. Every word is carefully selected, images meticulously created, and consumers specifically targeted to get the results our clients are looking for.

The surprising part? More often than not, it works.