Sunday, January 30, 2011

Copywriting Rules About Information Overload

There are several rules in copywriting that help to make your ads and promotional writing easy and interesting to read. Why should you bother? Because if it’s hard to read (or boring) they won’t!!!
Today I want to talk about two of the rules that help you get them to read.

1. Be Clear--Say what you mean in a way that does not confuse
2. Be Concise—Don’t wander around—get to the point

Being clear is about first knowing what you’re trying to get across, but then it’s about sentence structure. First be clear in your own mind what you want them to “get” from your writing. Is it that They will get more blue (purple) ribbons? Is it that they’ll feel better in some way? Is it that they’ll make more money? Is it that you can make something better or easier?

OK, now let’s talk about sentences. They have a subject, (You, the person you’re talking to.) They have an action (verb) such as “will love”. And they have an object, such as “ winning blue ribbons.”

Sometimes they have phrases in the subject or the object and modifiers.

You will love winning blue ribbons (basic sentence)
You, who are in 4-H will absolutely and unequivocally love winning blue ribbons when you attend events with this show-stopping goat (alpaca, sheep, horse etc.) that we now have for sale.

Did all the phrases and modifies make it clearer? Nope. All that information might be interesting to you, but it doesn’t make your idea to the reader any clearer. Nor did it make it easier to read. Ask what he cares about? And get simple. Now, that said, some of that information needs to be presented. You can do it in additional (clear) sentences. The shorter they are, the clearer.

You will love winning blue ribbons! This animals is a show-stopper! She can be yours this week from Winsome Farm.

Get rid of all the phrases and modifiers in your marketing messages. Make more short sentences—clear—with a subject, verb and object. More elaborate writing is for other types of writing, not marketing.

Being concise is expressing a lot in a few words. Yes, you have a big vocabulary. Yes, you can string a lot of words together. No you shouldn’t in marketing messages. More words dilute your message, just like more water dilutes lemonade till you can hardly taste the lemons.

These two rules actually go hand in hand because they’re both about making a message hard to read and to figure out because of too many words. The sentence you just read ought to be two sentences and should have some words removed.

These two rules go hand in hand.
They’re both about making a message easier to read.

That’s clearer and more concise.

Let me leave you with the ultimate in bad examples:

We’re leveraging our assets and establishing strategic alliances to create a robust knowledge center—one with customer-rated business structure using market-leading technologies to maximize our human system.

What they really want to say: “We’re consultants.”

Take out lots of words and get better results.

No comments: