Monday, August 29, 2022

Writing Your Own Marketing Content? Avoid These Common Pitfalls

I know many entrepreneurs and other businesspeople who, for whatever reason, have taken it on themselves to write their own marketing content. Some of these individuals have brilliant communication skills, can give an eloquent speech on a moment’s notice, and genuinely enjoy writing. But if you feel the need to compose that web page, blog article, or video script on your own, watch out for common little lapses in judgment that can render your writing less effective than it should be. 

As my writing teacher used to say, “There’s no such thing as good or bad writing, only stronger or weaker choices.” So let’s look at some of those weaker choices with an eye toward avoiding them.

"In order to" -- Only one of the words in this phrase matters. Can you find it? I knew you could. After all, if you're going to say “to,” what’s the point of also saying “in order” except to pad out the text meaninglessly?

"You should," "Be sure to," "Make sure you," “You may want to consider” etc. -- This is the imperative that isn't. I see these phrases pop up a lot, and I suspect Grammarly has something to do with it. Grammarly apparently hates it when the writer actually orders the reader to do something and will suggest these weak-kneed phrases to soften the statement. Well, some of us are trying to market here, yeah? If you want to tell the reader to do something, just tell them to do it. They won’t burst into tears.

"Very" -- This word is like a volume knob with no indicator markings. How much is "very?" Let's say you want to communicate that a film conveys a powerful message. Does "very powerful" really make the point more clearly than "powerful?"

"Great," "Terrific," "Fabulous," etc. -- More garbage words in the grand tradition of "Very." Let's go back to our film review example: "This movie is great!" What the heck does that mean? Why is it great? How is it great? Is it deeply mournful, crackling with dramatic tension, sweet-natured and amiable, refreshingly silly? "Great" means whatever the reader wants it to mean, thus introducing unwelcome ambiguity into your marketing message. State what you mean in no uncertain terms.

As the old song tells us, little things mean a lot. A few smart tweaks and second thoughts can make the difference between strong marketing content and not-so-strong marketing content. If you eventually decide that you’d  rather let a professional copywriter or editor worry about all these details, contact me. In the meantime, let’s be careful out there!