Making Words Stick

Writing clean copy for effective messaging

Writing is easy, right? Sure! Stick words on a page and watch the ideas flow like a raging river. That’s a great approach if you’re in a writing group with a pack of your friends. But it dies a swift and ugly death when marketing a product or service.

Converting an idea to a compelling message takes focus, a healthy vocabulary, and the ability to make words play together without someone losing an eye. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Your audience is busy. People tend to scan the screen or page to find what they need. Write your marketing message in short sentences and paragraphs, and be sure each word is crystal clear. Lengthy paragraphs and wordy sentences are appropriate for sappy romance novels, not marketing copy.
  2. Understand your audience - professions, ambitions, interests, warts and all. Are they watchers or doers? Are they single or married? Do they have kids? What is their average income level? Do they prefer sports or ballet? Are they tea drinkers or beer swillers? Write to them. When you’re finished doing that, dump your efforts in the trash. Now picture your audience as one person. Write to him or her specifically.
  3. Writing is hard work. You won’t get it right the first time. What fun would that be? You’ll proofread, edit, rewrite, proof, edit, rewrite, proof, toss up your hands and curse in sheer frustration. Get used to it. The effort is worth the pain.
  4. Break up a landmass of copy with bullets – those heavy dots of wonder that:
    • Draw attention to a particular idea,
    • Keep the eye skipping across the page or screen, and
    • Organize concepts into digestible form.
    • Really, bullets are your friends.
    • People love bullets.
  5. Jettison worthless words. Read each tenderly crafted sentence, and then slice it to bits. Rub out unnecessary words like a mob hit, including terms like:
    • It’s important to note
    • It must be said
    • On the other hand
    • Logic will tell you that
    • It stands to reason
    • Filler terms are annoying, do nothing to prove your point, and waste time and space.
    • Refer to Point 1.
    • Note the use of Point 4.
    • See what I mean?
  6. Write the way people talk. Be conversational in a way that connects with your particular audience. Beware of slang, unless it’s widely used by the people you are targeting. Otherwise it can turn prospective customers off in a big, fat hurry.
  7. Read. You cannot be a good writer without being a prolific reader. If you ravage ingredient labels, billboards, traffic signs, advertisements, and sales flyers to see how the words connect, you might be a writer. If words aren’t your passion, spare yourself some misery and hire a copywriter.
  8. Choose crisp-sounding, one-syllable words whenever possible. “Click” sounds better than “fortuitous.” Write like you’re hammering a nail – clean, fast, and on target. Save the fluffy stuff for poetry, unless it represents your business. If that’s the case and it reflects your audience, pour it on.
  9. Words matter. People who tell you otherwise aren’t worth your time. Swell graphics and fancy web pages grab attention, but copy drives the message home. Tick off a copywriter, and you might find her marching outside your door with a cleverly worded protest sign. You don’t want any part of that.

If you need help pulling a project together, contact IdeaBank Marketing today. We can craft a crystal-clear message that speaks volumes for you.

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