"Don't write so that you can be understood; write so that you can't be misunderstood."
President William H Taft
Like President Taft, I respect and strive for clarity. Whether I, as a copywriter, am writing an article, an advertisement, a website, a radio spot or even a blog, this basic rule applies. It is the first job of the communicator to make absolutely sure his or her words are understood precisely.
Far too often, in our marketing, writing or conversations, we use words and phrases that can be misconstrued, misunderstood, or totally confused. This sloppiness brings on problems. In a personal conversation you run the risk of hurting, misleading or offending your friends. In marketing, you run the risk of losing customers before they ever do business with you.
If your goal is to get a better response to your marketing and advertising, read on.
How To Write Clear And Effective Copy
First of all, some of you may be under the impression that writing is easy - that most people can do it well. This could not be further from the truth. No less a literary figure than Aldous Huxley - poet, philosopher, and celebrated author of Brave New World suggests, "It is easier to write ten effective sonnets than one effective advertisement." Her knows of what he speaks; Mr Huxley is an ex-copywriter!
Following is a short checklist to refer to the next time you write a marketing (or other) piece.
Seven Steps To A Great Ad
- Make yourself understood precisely - Use words whose meaning is universal. This is number one for a reason.
- Write like your readers talk - Drop the pretense and listen to your audience.
- Use short sentences and simple words - Sure you're smart, but this is no place to show off.
- Use present tense, second person - Try reading this sentence, "People have felt they were pampered like a celebrity on a Sun World Cruise." Now try this much more effective version, "You feel like a pampered celebrity on a Sun World Cruise".
Tell your whole story - but don't use one word more than is necessary. Remember, "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." Thomas Jefferson
Zero in on your readers' hot buttons - If you've done your research you know what they are. If you don't know what they are, do the research.
- .Focus on benefits not features - It's all about the readers, not about you.
Now you have no excuse for not increasing the response rate of your marketing and advertising. Good luck!