Copywriters Are Plain and Simple

April 20th 2010       Sally Ormond       copywriter, freelance copywriter, sales writing

copywriter

I think I probably need to clarify the title of this post before I receive a barrage of complaints and insults from fellow copywriters.

By saying we are ‘plain and simple’ is not a reference to looks or intelligence. Rather that we are adept in the subtle art of plain speaking.

When people discover I am a copywriter they are sometimes disappointed with my every day vocabulary levels. They assume that because I work with words, I will speak in a way that would suggest I eat a dictionary every morning for breakfast. They sit in awe waiting for me to deliver a rhetoric so complicated they will be left open-mouthed as they try to fathom what I said.

Simple wins every time

Being a copywriter has nothing to do with  the number of syllables you can squeeze into a sentence; it’s about using simple, every day language that is accessible to all.

Every day you are subjected to a vast swathe of marketing messages. They are everywhere:

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • On the sides of buses
  • At the railway station
  • On your cereal packet
  • On the internet
  • In your daily post

I could go on but that would lead to a rather boring post. The point is people are subjected to vast quantities of marketing messages so if you want yours to cut through the crowd, it has to be eye-catching, benefits driven and simple to understand.

No one is going to be impressed with a witty little number that involves having to reach for the dictionary just to work out what’s being said. Your message shouldn’t need to be translated into simple language – it should already be simple.

But what about b2b copywriting?

If you are producing sales copy that is for the b2b market don’t be led to believe it should be complicated.

Many argue that it is going to an educated audience because you are aiming at director level, therefore the language you use should reflect that. But there is one thing everyone has in common whether they are an MD or a house wife – not enough time.

We all lead busy lives these days so we don’t have time to try and work out what a piece of marketing is telling us. Be clear, be straight and be simple if you want your message to get through. Just because your copy is for the b2b market doesn’t make any difference. If anything your audience probably has less time and therefore will want to see at a glance if your product is right for them. If they can read a few lines which give the benefits and a strong call to action, you are much more likely to make a sale than if you send through a complex document.

Make a connection

The important thing to remember in your sales writing is to make a connection with your reader. The best way to start is by using simple, clear language that gets your message across quickly and clearly.

Here are a few examples of words to avoid and their simple counterparts:

Complex Simple alternative
Disseminate Spread
Residence House
Procrastinate Delay
Grandiose Showy
Innumerable Lots
Investigate Look at
Prevent Stop
Construct Make
Implement Carry out
Obtain Get

Why do you need to know this?

Too many companies make the mistake of writing complex, jargon filled copy. But that isn’t what your readers want. Keep your writing simple so that anyone can understand it. If you find it difficult to step back and write simply, hire a freelance copywriter who will be able to bring a fresh approach to your marketing.

Tags: copywriter, freelance copywriter, sales writing
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