Through my teachings and experience I came to learn the most important rule for screenwriting:
“Don’t say it, show it”.
That is, instead of having your character say something with words, have them show it.
For example, a man is furious at his neighbour for mowing the lawn too early on a Sunday morning: instead of having the man ask his neighbour to turn off the lawn mower, have him walk over and kill the motor (or pull out the plug if it’s electric).
In a visual medium like film, action always speaks louder than words.
And in an increasingly visual world of marketing (websites, banners, infographics, etc.), I think the same rule applies.
Don’t say it, show it.
Show customers what your newsletter will look like when they subscribe.
Show customers what they could buy with the money that you’ll save them.
Show customers what life will look like after they purchase your product or service.
An example of the “Show Don’t Tell” Rule
One of the best places to test the “Don’t say it, show it” rule is on a landing page.
A landing page is usually an all-or-nothing scenario: either the user completes a form (or calls a number), or clicks away.
You’ve got only seconds to capture a user’s attention, confirm their interest, and compel them to take the action you want them to.
To find a real-life landing page I Googled “Flat Web Design Services”, and here’s the page I was presented after clicking on the first ad:
Now I won’t go into the fact that this landing page doesn’t refer to “flat web design” which was my original search intent (I cropped out the company name and logo), but as you can see, despite being a web design company they’ve decided to list off all the types of services, websites, and technologies they can deliver.
In other words, they tell, instead of show.
I’m not a designer by any means, but if someone was searching for “flat website design services”, this is the type of landing page I would present:
In this case I used the landing page not as an opportunity to talk about features or functionality, but to show users what their new web design could look like.
It’s not always possible, but as much as possible show your prospect what the other side of the door looks like.
If you can show them what it looks like, you may not have to “say” much to get the sale 🙂