How to simplify your marketing copy volume 2

There’s a red pen in here somewhere…

 

 

Hopefully after last week’s post, you’ve had a look through your writing and taken a big, red pen to any superfluous words.

This time, I’m not highlighting errors as such, but easy ways to simplify the language you use in your marketing copy.

Many of us have a tendency to make everything  more long winded than it needs to be – I confess I’ve fallen into that trap myself many times in the past!

We think it makes us sound more intelligent, or our writing more impressive. It doesn’t. If anything, it can make us sound pretentious and it lessens the impact of the message we’re trying to convey. And that’s when our readers (or rather, our customers) switch off.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

‘Investigators arrived at the conclusion…’ instead of ‘Investigators concluded…’

Option 1 adds to your word count and makes you sound more wordy, more intelligent, right?

Wrong.

Your high school English teacher didn’t fall for that tactic and your customers won’t either.

Here are a few examples of how to keep things simple for greater impact.

‘at the present time’ replace with ‘now’

‘a large percentage of‘ replace with ‘many

‘by virtue of the fact that‘ replace with ‘because’

‘in spite of the fact that’ replace with ‘despite’

owing to the fact that’ replace with ‘because’

‘in the event that’ replace with ‘if’

‘prior to’ replace with ‘before’

You get the idea.

Always remember, if the word doesn’t add anything to the meaning of your sentence, give it the chop.

And if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, or you just don’t know where to start, give me a shout. I live for this stuff!

 

How to simplify your marketing copy volume 1

I wonder sometimes if my clients are taken aback when they receive their first draft of concise copy.  When you’re paying for something, you want as much for your money as you can get, right?

Not necessarily.

When it comes to copy, less really is more. Regular readers will have sussed that this is my golden rule.

In the interest of keeping things brief, I’d like to share this quick tip.

Checking for superfluous words is almost as important as your spelling and grammar checks.

Many of you probably don’t even notice these redundant and annoying little words creeping their way across articles, web copy and brochures but trust me,  they are there. And they need to be dealt with! They add unnecessary bulk to otherwise snappy and elegant prose and I have to admit, they always make me picture the writer as a bored undergrad. Anyone else remember being stuck at your desk,  unable to go to the pub until you’d reached the minimum word count on your essay?

Well, we’re not students any more, and the aim of the game is to get your message across in as few words as possible!

So what kind of thing am I talking about?

Here are some offenders I’ve noticed recently.

‘At the moment we are currently trying to tackle the problem

I nearly drove into a ditch the other day when I heard someone on the radio utter this. BBC Radio 2 no less!

What’s the problem? ‘Currently’ means ‘at the moment’ – there is simply no need for both of these expressions. To be all technical about it, it just sounds daft.

‘They returned back to the restaurant’.

This was spotted on a kiddie activity book at Pizza Hut.  ‘To return’ means ‘to go back’ – the ‘back’ here is redundant. It needs to go!

‘The companies merged together’

This one’s obvious right? ‘To merge’ is to come ‘together’, once again we have a word that adds nothing to the meaning or style of the sentence other than length and as we know, brevity is the Holy Grail here.

So when you’re finalising any piece of marketing driven writing, liberate the pruning shears and get to work. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how smooth your prose can become if you do some swift dead-heading before you hit publish.

For more pruning tips, keep an eye out for vol 2.