What is the signal-to-noise ratio in marketing?

Signal to noise ratio is a pretty important factor in the world of electronics design. Remember those old TV sets you had to tune? The signal-to-noise ratio refers to the amount of signal you put in to the TV, to the amount of TV picture displayed. Strangely enough, it’s also a critical part of marketing. 

In many parts of the engineering community, the term “Marketing” essentially has a similar definition as the term “deception.” Point of fact, that is not the definition of the term. But a low signal to noise ratio can make it seem so. Marketing is supposed to be about getting factual information to people who need it to make an informed decision. Deception is bad marketing and unethical.

Creating a good noise - signal ratio in marketing requires an understanding of what is important to your potential customers and the ability to differentiate between that and what’s important to you. If those are the same thing, you're in luck, but they’re rarely exactly the same thing.

Every marketing communication has two parts: 

• The Signal – your message; the thing you want people to take away 

• The Noise – everything else; the things that distract, delay and get in the way of the signal 

Most marketing – especially in technology businesses – is so full of noise, the static drowns out the music. The idea, obviously, is to drive out the noise and deliver clear, crisp signals. 

7 ways to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in B2B marketing

1) Give yourself less space 

The less space you have to deliver your message, the more likely it is that you’ll make the best possible use of the space you have. (You can always spread it out later without adding content). Bumper stickers have very little noise. No room for it.

2) Give yourself less time

Don’t spend a few days on that web copy or brochure. Spend a few hours. It will be better.

3) Boil down mercilessly, then subtract 

Take a page or a paragraph that you’ve already reduced to its bare minimum and cut another 30%. Be ruthless. 

4) Kill everything that doesn’t sell 

The decoration, the frippery, the content-free photos, needless or unreadable screenshots, bloated captions, rules, boxes, sidebars. Kill them. The support points, credibility builders, facts, figures, quotes, legitimate exhibits… let them live. 

5) Have only one bull’s-eye per target 

Decide what you want the audience to do or to think, then focus all of your efforts on this. Don’t give them three other options or try to do four other things at the same time. Focus. 

6) Clean up your act 

Clear communications look simple and inviting. Nice type, plenty of white space, lots of subheads to break things up. 

7) Make like Hemingway 

Short sentences, plain language.    

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