For powerful marketing messages: Cut the Word Clutter
You cut the clutter in your home and office for efficiency's sake. Do the same for your marketing messages.
The reason for writing is communication, and clutter, like a misused word, is its enemy.
So what is word clutter?
It's rambling, repetition, and the most common – unnecessary words and redundancies. Most of us are guilty of using both.
Unnecessary words include:
("That" is a word that you can often do without. Change to: "That" is a word you can often do without.)
(We're just waiting for… Change to: We're waiting for…
(One of the easy methods of… Change to: One easy method of…)
These are words that add nothing but clutter. Removing them tightens the copy, gives you more clarity, and doesn't change the meaning. We all use them, but our messages would be more effective if we took time to find and remove them.
See… I did it myself, even while thinking about it. I first wrote "took the time." Do we need that "the?" Nope.
These abound in both speech and writing. At the least they garble the message. At the worst they make the writer/speaker look silly. For instance, take this message machine statement: "I'm sorry, we're currently closed at the present time. Our office hours are…"
Redundant expressions are called pleonasms – a fact that I did not know until today. Websites list hundreds of examples.
Here's a sample from the About Education site, with redundant words in parentheses. How many of these do YOU use?
- 8 a.m. (in the morning)
- (Twelve o'clock) noon
- (Free) gift
- (Roughly) estimated
- (Pair of) twins
- Surrounded (on all sides)
- (Absolutely) necessary
- Alternative (choice)
- Cash (money)
- (Completely) eliminate
- (Current) incumbent
- (Desirable) benefits
- Estimated (at about)
- (exact) same
- (final) outcome
- (favorable) approval
- (joint) collaboration
- Made (out) of
If you visit the About Education site you'll notice that a few of the expressions would not be redundant when used in the proper context.
"New construction," for instance. You and your clients know what that means. If you said you sold construction, some might think you wanted to work as a builder.
A caution: Don't edit while you write.
Trying to edit as you go along stifles creativity, so write first – edit second. Then proofread!
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net