thu 14 jul 2011 20:41:46 witte de withstraat
i just spent an hour re-packaging my philosophy on marketing copywriting. some of it is the same stuff i've been telling people since 1992, but of course not everybody heard me.
Tips on copywriting for marketing that people can believe.
S G Collins, Postwar Media, 14 July 2011
• Avoid using passive voice, like 'when a lesion is found' or 'the image is captured'. For one thing, passive construction has been so popularized by those trying to fog responsibility ('a decision was made', 'three shots were fired'), that it now has a distinctly negative tonality. Also, it's just not plain speaking. It gives readers the impression you're trying to be indirect with them. Don't be indirect with them.
• Avoid phrases that have become totally meaningless, like 'this innovative solution'. That is a false implicit synonym, and it reads like a piece of glass. Contrary to popular misconception, 'innovative' doesn't equal 'good'. Some innovations are, in fact, good -- but for specific reasons. It's the reasons for goodness that have meaning, not the newness. Newness has gotten old. Goodness never goes out of style.
• Whenever possible, use plain language to replace words that sound like they're trying too hard to sound medicalistic, academic, or technical. For example, it's okay to say 'use' instead of 'utilize'. Of course it's good to use real technical terms when they add meaning, and when you're sure your audience knows them. But forcing ordinary language to sound technical doesn't actually help, it just hampers your credibility. Intelligent readers perceive it as a kind of literary obsequiousness.
• Remember that marketing and safety are antithetical. When plants and animals imitate their surroundings, they're using obscurity for survival. You cannot sell something by camouflaging it. The mission is not to write things that fit in seamlessly with the soup of marketingspeak, but to do quite the opposite: write the meaningul thing purely and simply. That way, your readers have a chance to see you as different and more honest than the rest of the pack. People are busy. Your readers have limited time to grasp what you're saying. So rather than making your message blend in to the existing ineffectual morass, it's better to be conspicuously simple and clear. Crystalize the meaningul, so your reader thinks, 'Oh! I didn't think of that -- that kinda makes sense.'