Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why "Writing to Impress" Usually Backfires

You sit down to write your next blog article, new web page or updated brochure with a single goal: to dazzle your prospects and customers. But how exactly do you do that? You might be surprised to learn that "writing to impress" can do your content more harm than good. Here are a few examples of how this kind of overachievement can actually sabotage your goals.

Technobabble - If you've ever sat through a science-fiction show where the writers resorted to incomprehensible technical lingo at a key moment, you may have felt both irritated and excluded. The same holds true for marketing content that aims above the level of its intended target market. Companies in complex fields such as the technical, medical or legal arenas often feel compelled to display their expertise in this way -- without realizing that they're alienating their audience instead of impressing it. Technobabble only works when your ideal reader, listener or viewer is as fluent in that language as you are. If you need to reach the general public, you must boil your message down to general terms.

Formal-speak - Many business experts fall into the trap of using overly-formal language in their marketing content, especially consultants who feel the need to impress people. The approach usually means lots of passive verbs, indirect sentence structure and "five-dollar words." The end result is dulled emotional impact -- pretty much the opposite of what you want when you're selling your products, services and/or brand. Lack of directness pushes people away, while the longer a word is, the less power it usually holds. Clear, direct language will make your point much more quickly and effectively, while helping to establish you as a friendly peer instead of an unapproachable oracle.

Purple prose -  If you've ever seen an over-the-top amateur movie or book review, you've probably been hit over the head with phrases like "Buckets of tears were gushing out of my eyes like waterfalls from the very first scene" or "I was collapsing with laughter at every moment." This kind of hot-and-heavy hyperbole (a) is pretty hard to take seriously and (b) exhausts your audience's emotional batteries from from the beginning. If everything is spectacular and amazing and life-changing, then nothing stands out and contrasts become impossible. You've lost your ability to create emotional highs and lows in your content -- and with it, your ability to engage the audience in a meaningful way.

"Writing to impress" usually doesn't -- but writing to establish a strong, credible, instant connection with your ideal respondent definitely does. Honing your approach and technique takes some doing, but you can always engage a professional marketing copywriter who already knows his stuff. Either way, make sure your content makes the right impression!