Use fewer words for greater results! Here’s how:
1. Clear Out the Clutter.
Creating an effective marketing piece is a little like interior decorating. You have to strategically de-clutter so the most important statements resonate. This is very difficult for those of us who take pride in our writing and have important points to make. In fact, it’s downright painful! Here some quick tips:
- Try cutting the first paragraph. Yes-you heard me. Lop it off and see if your piece is stronger when it begins with paragraph two. Often, you’ll find that it is. It sometimes takes us a paragraph to warm-up or to provide the background. However, the background usually isn’t needed. Start with paragraph two and get to the point!
- Be direct. Write how you talk and use contractions whenever possible. Don’t be afraid of the first person-it’s friendlier and more natural. Omit needless words. Here are some examples:
- WORDY: I was unaware of the fact that she already had a policy. BETTER: I was unaware that she already had a policy.
- AWKWARD: I have not yet been able to secure an appointment with him. LIKE WE TALK: I haven’t secured an appointment with him yet.
- THIRD PERSON: Clients save money when they insure with ABC Company. DIRECT/FIRST PERSON: You’ll save money when you insure with ABC Company.
- Finally, ask someone who doesn’t work in your industry to read what you’ve written. Often when I do this, I’ll hear, “It sounds pretty good, but I’m not sure about this part.” Usually “that part” is something that I really, really like. But, guess what? It’s time to edit, because if the first reader doesn’t get it, others won’t either.
2. Think in Threes.
Most people remember things in threes -red, white and blue; blood, sweat and tears; tall, dark and handsome. If you were asked to memorize a 10-digit number, you would think it was daunting. However, if the 10 digits are broken into small groupings – 503-342-6420 – memorization becomes much easier. Likewise, I recommend that you organize your writing around three main points. Also, edit in three rounds on three different days, so that you take a fresh look each time.
3. Write Just the “Right” Amount of Copy.
Avoiding verbosity does not mandate brevity. Some of the most successful sales letters are four, eight and even 12 pages long. A marketing piece should be long enough to say what NEEDS to be said. Remember:
- Present information in bite-sized chunks and bullets.
- Use compelling subheads to pull the reader through the pages.
- Manage marketing real estate so that the most important details are in the most important areas of the page.
- DELETE anything that doesn’t NEED to be said (even if it’s quite eloquently written.)
- Recognize that “want to have” products require more persuasive appeal (and therefore more copy) than “need to have” products.
If you take these three steps, you’ll have persuasive, compelling, easy-to-read pieces that really get results!