Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More on Making Your Marketing Easy to Read

As a continuation of the last blog article, let’s talk more about making your marketing  effective. 

Clarity is a wonderful thing in advertising.   It’s also pretty rare within the small farm/livestock world.   Too many are writing web content, ads or brochures that are wordy and confusing.  Are you trying to impress someone or to communicate the benefit they get from doing business with you?  When you use big words to imply a vast depth of knowledge and expertise, you actually turn people away.  If you’re trying to show off your vocabulary, you’ll fail to connect with your readers.  

Today’s article will have several rules about copywriting.  Here are the first two:  

Never write anything that is unclear.
Never write anything that is hard to understand.

How?  Number one way is remember that less is more.  Marketing is not like any other kind of writing.  You cannot prove your intelligence or your expertise through volume.  Since they don’t have to read it, the only way to get them to read it is to entice them to read it.   Make it easy, clear and fun.  Simple, clear writing never offends anyone, not even the most highly educated. Complicated, lengthy writing leaves readers unable to understand what you're trying to say or else they just won’t bother.  

Last time I gave you some examples of corporate speak, and other kinds of NOT clear writing.  Another example is turn on C-Span sometime and listen to the politicians.  Not short and sweet, by any means. 

Using short word, easy words, helps to make marketing understandable and easy to read.  Winston Churchill said this: "The old words are the best, and the old small words the best of all."  

Using simple words is an art.  I could cover pages and pages of examples of the big, self-important words and cliché phrases people use.  They have a simpler alternative.  The simpler alternative always makes it clearer and easier to read.   Here are some examples: 

Wrong phrase                            Why it’s wrong                                  What to use instead
As well as                                          a three word version                     and

Out of pocket                                 a slangy jargon phrase                    away

When all is said and done           cliché                                                  finally

And/or                                           cliché                                                 use one or the other

Nonfunctional                               pompous word                                broken

Cadre                                              pompous word                                group

Tantamount to saying                  pompous and cliché                       this means

Utilize                                             big word                                            use

Individual                                     5 syllables-it distances you              man, woman  

Edgy                                               meaning is not clear                        trendy, in your face, fresh

Here’s another rule:  Do not use Passive Voice if you can possibly avoid it, and you usually can!  Passive voice is mushy.  It separates the doer from the action.  It is a way to be hesitant, not very sure of yourself.  The active voice is sharper and direct and more attention getting.  Here are some examples.

I have a suspicion means I suspect.

He will make an agreement means he will agree

I am holding a discussion means I discuss

She gives instruction to, means she instructs

To make a choice is to choose

 And one more rule:  Use simpler forms of verbs rather than the ing form (gerund).  Just find all the ing endings and see if you can change them to a more active form.

And from George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" more rules that work!

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

If you only take away one idea from this article, it is to edit, edit, edit--and take out all the words that do not absolutely have to be there. Your writing will be a whole lot more interesting and easier to read!  And that’s the point of marketing!!!


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