Authors may be gifted when it comes to writing books, but lacking when it comes to knowing how to write copy for their website or other promotional materials. Guest author Debra Jason shares her K-I-S-S ideas for writing effective marketing copy.
Want to know how to write compelling copy that’s easy for your prospects and customers to read? KISS them!
While some people equate this acronym with “Keep it simple stupid,” I prefer to use “KEEP IT SIMPLE SWEETHEART!”
Clarity is extremely important in writing marketing content – be it a brochure, blog, direct mail piece or Web site. You want to create a conversation between you and your audience, but how to you do that when you’re not face-to-face?
The difference between conversation and writing is that during a conversation we give the other person time to understand what we’ve said. We pause between sentences, repeat ourselves and space our ideas apart.
The secret of writing is to leave space – create these pauses. In The Art of Plain Talk by Rudolf Flesch, he outlined these 7 helpful steps:
1. Start out with short, simple sentences.
Start your copy with a sentence of 8 words or less. This is the average sentence length in the English language, and it is considered very easy to understand. Here’s a breakdown of how longer sentences are interpreted by your readers:
- 11 words – easy
- 14 words – fairly easy
- 17 words – standard (AVERAGE READER)
- 21 words – fairly difficult
- 25 words – difficult
- 29+ words – very difficult
As Herschell Gordon Lewis said in The Art of Writing Copy, “Clarity has to come first, no matter what you’re writing or to whom.”
2. Two short sentences are easier to read than one long one.
Always try to break long sentences into shorter ones. Sometimes you might even use one-word sentences.
3. The rules of grammar do not always apply in marketing copy.
Lewis also advises, “Copywriters are communicators, not grammarians. What matters isn’t your knowledge of which tense is which; it’s your knowledge of how to transform the lead of drab fact into the gold of lustrous attraction.”
4. Use bullet points.
I often advise my clients to use bullet points. Rather than make your audience plough through a lengthy paragraph, break it up into easy-to-read bullet points. Make the content inviting to the readers eyes!
5. Be personal. Use “you.”
Your reader is a current customer or prospect. So talk to that reader. Avoid mentioning “the client” or “the customer.” Let your prospect know you’re talking directly to him or her, one-on-one. Use the word “you.”
Your readers come first. Write to people not at them. Incorporate a friendly, conversational tone as if your reader were sitting right across the table from you.
In his book, Direct Mail Copy That Sells!, Herschell Gordon Lewis explained, “When you write a letter that says, ‘Only you. . .’, you’ve told the recipient that to you he isn’t a unit, an anonymous number in a computer, a faceless organism with a zip code. . . You also project an attitude of friendliness.”
6. Whenever possible, talk about people, not ideas.
Tests show that we enjoy, and are better readers when, reading about other people more than about anything else. Sentences can be written so that the logical subject is a person. Use personal pronouns (theirs, yours, you) or human interest words (woman, man, child, boy).
7. Use active verb forms that have life in them.
Words like dance, sing, add, run, etc. make your sentences ‘move.’ To see the difference in impact, here are some examples from author Patricia Williams’ Creating and Producing the Perfect Newsletter:
Passive: The lobby was the site of a rally led by Tiger boosters Tuesday.
Active: Tiger boosters led a rally in the lobby Tuesday.
Passive: The basement was flooded with water.
Active: Water flooded the basement.
8. Punctuation makes reading easier.
Punctuation puts in visual pauses and stresses important points. Use commas, hyphens, dashes and ellipses to achieve this effect.
9. Give your readers something useful.
Ad man David Ogilvy said, “Give the reader helpful advice, or service. It hooks about 75% more readers than copy which deals entirely with the product.”
So, are you KISS-ing your readers?
If you liked this article, please SHARE it!
AND please share your thoughts and comments below.
~ Debra Jason
DEBRA JASON is the former President of the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association (RMDMA), and a seasoned copywriter with more than 25 years of experience. Owner of The Write Direction, she offers copywriting services for Web and direct marketing communications, delivering captivating content that converts your prospects into loyal customers. Debra is also a recipient of the RMDMA’s Creative Person of the Year Award.
Note from Lynn Serafinn: Many thanks to Debra for sharing these useful tips. I especially like tip #9. I hate receiving newsletter and email shots that are just sales letters. I believe the best “marketing” is when we don’t market, but provide our readers with great content…like this.J
If you’re an author needing help with marketing your book, give Lynn Serafinn at Spirit Authors a shout via the CONTACT FORM on this site and we can set up a FREE 30 minutes Skype chat to see if I can help in any way.
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.