Another marketing stop sign...

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

This morning's e-mail brought a message from a company that sells instruction in both copywriting and photography. The letter was selling a class and emphasizing the fact that you don't have to be young to learn new things and be successful.

It gave several examples, including one about a gentleman who competes in archery.stop sign

His story included a sentence which was a "stop sign" for me. I went back and re-read it, then I puzzled over it. And now I'm writing about it. I never did get around to reading the rest of their message.

Here's the sentence:

"Johnson is 57, and usually about 30 years older than most of his competitors."

For me, the sentence would have worked had they left out "usually." It also would have worked if they'd left out "most of." It needed one or the other, but when it included both, my first thought was to wonder if his age changed from day to day.

Would this have been a stop sign for you?

Although not quite the same thing, this sentence reminds me of answering machine messages (and emails) that say something along the lines of "Mr. Jones is not currently available at this time." In this case the meaning is clear, but the sentence is lumpy and awkward. It looks like the speaker or writer simply wasn't thinking. It's also one of those sentences that makes me stop and look twice - destroying the flow of the message.

The bottom line: Sometimes removing a word here and there makes your work flow more smoothly and clarifies your meaning. Sometimes adding an unnecessary word confuses the issue and creates a stop sign. 

So after you write, set your work aside for a bit, then read it with the eye of a critic. It's always best if you can have someone else proofread for you, but some of us don't have that luxury, so we have to be extra careful. 


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Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

I think they could have left that sentence out altogether.  Maybe something like "Johnson is somewhat older than many of his competitors".  This stumbling block would have kept me from reading on as well.

Jul 09, 2016 04:42 AM #1
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I agree with what you say Marte, but I am an offender of this I am sure.

Jul 09, 2016 01:42 PM #2
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Marte- are you inside my head?  I am guilty on all counts of 10 words when 2 would do.  LOL I try to read and reread my posts for that very reason.  Thank you for this reminder. 

Jul 10, 2016 11:53 AM #3
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Marte Cliff

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