Copywriting Tips 2 – 3

More Copywriting Tips to Strengthen Your Message.

2. Internet, direct mail, and collateral print messages written to fit a predetermined length are often inadequate or overblown.

When asked how long a man’s legs should be, Lincoln answered: “Long enough to reach the ground.” Similarly, a commercial message should be long enough to make the sale.

Obviously, TV and radio spots must fit within prescribed allotments (e.g., 15, 30, 60 seconds). Likewise, placements in newspapers and magazines are subject to space limitations (a function of the advertiser’s finite media budget).

But brochures, web copy and letters are not bound by such restrictions. It is a common misconception that a sales letter should fit neatly on one page. Yet, some of the most compelling appeals span four or more pages. Likewise, some believe a web movie must not exceed 60 seconds or viewers will abandon. (A visit to YouTube quickly dispels this myth).

Rather than second-guess how many words or minutes will fit your prospect’s attention span, arm yourself with a simple checklist (AIDA). Does the message:

[√] Grab Attention? [√] Hold Interest? [√] Create Desire? [√] Prompt Action?
Copywriting Tips: Preconceptions about message size can undermine results. Rather than word count or running time, let AIDA be your litmus test for length.

3. Jargon, obscure words, and overused words are barriers to agreement.

There’s a story about a group of people who regale one another repeatedly with the same jokes. To save time, they assign each joke a number. “Twenty-seven,” one says, and they all laugh. “Eighty-five,” declares another, and howls ensue. “Sixteen,” states a third—and no one lets out so much as a chuckle. Then a soft voice breaks the silence: “He never could tell a joke.”

It can be tempting to communicate with those outside our corporate sanctum or professional circle using terms we bandy with colleagues. But acronyms, buzz words and abbreviations are likely to confuse—and confusion undermines agreement. A prospect can’t nod his head if he’s shaking it.

The same advice applies for obscure words. Prefer the familiar choice to the less familiar. Consider this correspondence between a customer and manufacturer.

Dear Sirs:

In case my area gets another hard freeze this winter, I would like to know if I could use my Magnum 500 torch to thaw the copper water pipes in the crawl space under my house.

Mr. J. McDuggan

McDuggan received this obliquely worded reply:

Dear Mr. McDuggan:

Regarding your query about the possible utilization of the Magnum 500 torch for thawing water pipes, our engineers advise their perspective is limited to a paucity of research for the application you cite. They question the sagacity of using the device where the potential exists for inadvertent consequences, such as the conflagration of your domicile.

Customer Service Department

He wrote back with a follow-up question:

Dear Sirs:

Thank you for your reply. I have one more question: When I use my Magnum 500 to thaw pipes, which heat setting should I use?

J. McDuggan

McDuggan then received a reply he could understand:

Dear Mr. McDuggan:

Don’t use your Magnum 500 or any other torch to thaw frozen pipes. You could burn down your house.

Customer Service Department

The trendy word or phrase is another obstacle to comprehension. How such expressions gain celebrity is a bit mysterious. Perhaps it starts with an elegant usage in a newspaper or magazine. Other writers emulate. The process repeats until, it seems, the word is everywhere— and about as potent as a ten-cent packet of powdered drink mix stirred into Lake Michigan.

There are many more offenders than the few listed here. Keep these and similarly mindnumbing expressions safely locked up and away from your copy. Let one out only in an emergency, such as when no other word or phrase will work (which is almost never).

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Copywriting Tips: Avoid lingo, big words, and words weakened by overuse.
Choose words that make your ideas easy to understand.