Why does it have to be ‘fine print’? Make it big!

Fine Print is unnecessary

Is fine print really necessary? Make it big and integrate it into your campaign

There may sometimes be gaps in our postings when business is particularly good, as it has been these past several months. But we always try to look for lessons in our work that we can share.

For example: I’ve been doing marketing support for a major technology company. This generally means I do whatever needs to be done to help marketing meet its goals. But one of my unique selling points is that I’m also a perceptive customer advocate. In fact, I find it difficult NOT to see the customer perspective in everything I do. It’s just how I’ve become wired after years of working in this space: interacting with communities, absorbing composite customer personas, watching focus groups and usability tests and, more recently, monitoring reactions to what I do on social media.

Much of what I’m working on right now requires Terms and Conditions: You know, that legalese that people label “the fine print” – usually because it’s so very small. But there’s also a stigma attached to it. Ask most people what the fine print is, and they’ll respond: “That’s where they get you.”

In a recent marketing campaign that I managed, I noticed customers on Twitter complaining that they didn’t know how they would get their bonus items. The answer was right  there in the Terms & Conditions but it was so tiny that many folks couldn’t read it. So I asked our designers to start making the fine print larger.

It’s an idea that I believe really should catch on. The days of hiding “gotchas” in teeny tiny type are mostly over, or so I’d like to think. If there’s something shady going on, the Internet usually sniffs it out and spreads the word quickly and aggressively.

Instead, I think that Terms & Conditions should be easily read and consumed as part of any offer perusal. In fact, knowing all of the limits and fulfillment details may actually help sell customers, and could even earn their trust. For one thing, it shows the seller has nothing to hide. And second, it should answer any key concerns the customer might have.

Ideally, all of these details should be part of any carefully considered marketing pitch. In the glory days of advertising – which I studied intensely to improve my skills as a headline copywriter – ads were text laden and often filled two or more pages. And advertising studies show that more text can actually be more convincing than less. So let’s put it all out there for everyone to see.

Now if we could just do something with all of those impenetrable End User License Agreements – which arguably are TOO LONG and could use a good summary and be easily reviewed, browsed and, dare I say, skipped. But that’s a fight for another day.

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