In Marketing Copy, strive for readability and communication

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Readability, communication, and a bit of persuasion must be the goal in writing marketing copy. Without those ingredients, your message will be a waste of time.

Grammar and proper word choice matter, because without them, the message gets confused. Even if your reader figures out that you meant hear when you wrote here, you’ve put up a big stop sign and made the flow of your message disappear. typing on laptop

But… you don’t want to be so proper that your words lose all their flavor. If you pay too much attention to the rules your High School English teacher set down (some of which were only myths, by the way), the result will be dry as a bone, stiff copy.

And you know, nobody reads dry words unless they’re required to do so.

It's also a mistake to use "$40 Words." Don't say utilize if you can say use. Don't say fabrication if you can say lie. Don't say prognosticate if you can say predict.

You aren't writing to impress anyone with your vocabulary - you're writing to be understood, by everyone.

In copywriting books and seminars we are taught to write for a 7th grade level. Those with a college degree will understand it - but if you write for the college graduate, your less literate prospects won't. 

At the same time, being too casual makes you sound a little demented. And I HAVE seen it done. In fact, I’ve received emails with a subject line that went something like: “Like You Gotta Dig This!”

Uh – no, I like don’t gotta.

I thought that the “like” habit had fallen out of fashion years ago – but I was wrong. I not only heard it in the grocery store this week, I heard it on a television commercial recently.

But there are a couple of other common errors that I’m seeing more and more lately.

One is the over-use or mis-use of commas.

Look how difficult it is to read this:

By now, you know, that following instructions, from your high school English teacher, will cause you to write dry, dull, uninspiring copy.

This one is SO easy to avoid. Here’s the trick:

After you write a sentence or a paragraph, read it out loud. Pause at every comma. If it sounds like normal conversation – great. If it sounds choppy or clunky or halting (as if you were really not sure about what you wanted to say) get rid of a few commas.

The other is the over-use of descriptive words and phrases.

Take this sentence from a property description one of my ezine readers found on an agent website: “Well-favored uncommonly modern kitchen equipped with top-of-the line appliances and unpredicted materials.” (No, that’s not a typo. It said “unpredicted.”)

Sadly, all those words draw attention to themselves and away from the message they were meant to convey.

Keep it simple – and communicate.


Image courtesy of Dreamstine



Re-Blogged 1 time:

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Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Great advice, and nothing helps you improve than just doing it over and over again.

Jan 15, 2017 07:28 AM #13
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is great advice.  I can get a bit to wordy.  A good reminder of how important it is to communicate clearly.  Thanks 

Jan 15, 2017 07:57 PM #14
Amy Kramer
Reilly Realtors - Austin, TX
Realtor serving Austin and surrounding communities

Marte Cliff, what a great post.  When you first start blogging, as I have in the past year, it can be so intimidating.  Getting tips from experts like yourself is helpful to ensuring we perfect our craft.  Thanks! 


BTW...I just read the 2nd sentence three times and still don't know if I punctuated it correctly 

Jan 16, 2017 05:55 AM #15
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

You know a thesaurus isn't a bad thing even in the kitchen lol.

Jan 16, 2017 07:29 AM #16
Foster Smith Summerville
Carolina One Real Estate - Summerville, SC
Summerville & Charleston Homes for Sale SC Realtor


Jan 16, 2017 08:19 AM #17
IDX Broker
IDX, LLC. - Eugene, OR

Thank you for this post Marte Cliff! I am working on another AR Blog Post right now (a very jargony, technical one)... so these are all great tips to keep in mind! Thanks again! 


Jan 16, 2017 08:37 AM #18
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Marte Cliff, our goal should be to retain our readers, using words bigger than the homes we're describing doesn't accomplish that. As always, great advice.  

Jan 16, 2017 12:11 PM #19
Brian DeYoung
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ithaca, NY
Brian DeYoung

I really enjoyed your article, and I do indeed have trouble with this.

I rember hearing write for the 8th grade...and I guess now we aim lower...

but above all, it was the right article at the right time.

feel free to drop me a note

Jan 16, 2017 12:22 PM #20
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

I think writing like you talk will come across better. If you talk in such a way no one understands, change the way you talk.


Jan 16, 2017 04:38 PM #21
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I especially like the examples you gave to prove your points.  Keep descriptions simple and conversational!

Jan 16, 2017 06:15 PM #22
1~Laura Filip
1~Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Yes Ma'am keep it simple and to the point. Speak clearly type it out then read it ... Type it out, read it. 

Jan 16, 2017 06:27 PM #23
Amy Bly
Great Impressions Home Staging/Interiors - Montville, NJ
Styling Homes for Selling and Staying

Hi, Marte -- a religious leader we know, who will remain nameless, said in one of his talks "I abhor simplistic reductions"! I have never forgotten how pompous that sounded! I totally agree that using simple words is almost always better. 

Jan 16, 2017 07:28 PM #24
Larry Stoller
Real Estate FIVE of the Lowcountry - Hilton Head Island, SC
Your Hilton Head Island real estate connection

I've been using the KISS strategy and catchy titles as well for the past 10 years - both in Selling real estate and Writing about real estate. Even used Marte's strategies in a Real Estate book I published about 5 years ago & on one of my fun websites.

Want my book for FREE? Visit 

Jan 17, 2017 02:15 AM #26
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Repetition is the key!  Great Post!  I am bookmarking to read again!

Jan 17, 2017 07:53 AM #27
Carol Lynn Johnson
Re/Max Elite Realty - Franklin, NC
Residential Specialist

I am always amazed by how many realtors do not use spell check or grammar check - especially in advertising.

Jan 17, 2017 10:11 AM #28
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Great points Marte Cliff and enjoy your worthwhile posts that improve what we do.

Jan 20, 2017 06:17 PM #29
Steven Nickens
Elite Pacific Properties Maui - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Great article, I am always ready to learn and step up my writing skills.  My wife says I surfed through my English class, so I am trying to step it up a bit. Thanks.

Jan 22, 2017 08:21 PM #30
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

I write something just the way I want to the first time. Then I go back and try to cut out 1/3 of the words. Never underestimate the power of a few good apostrophes!

Jan 23, 2017 06:17 PM #31
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ

Marte Cliff "Don't say utilize if you can use. Don't say fabrication if you can say lie. Don't say prognosticate if you can say predict. 

You aren't writing to impress anyone with your vocabulary - you're writing to be understood, by everyone."

Right on target - and - re-blog!

Dec 24, 2017 04:02 AM #32
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

It's using KISS that works !

Dec 24, 2017 04:31 AM #33
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