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.
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