Over the past few years, my writing has gotten tighter, more direct. Shorter sentences, less jargon, fewer uses of "leading" this or "state of the art" that. Is it a result of age and experience, my increasing involvement in bullshit-intolerant social media marketing or some combination of both? Who knows?
What I do know is that I try to make every word count. Even though I sometimes write long, I don't use too many extra adjectives or empty adverbs. Sure every now and then, one sneaks in, but for the most part, my writing is a lot crisper than it was five years ago.
In fact, one of my biggest criticisms of PR pitches is that they are wordsmithed to death in search of the perfect phrase, the most clever pun, the perfect call to action. They end up excessively wordy and take far too long to get the point. Sometimes they miss it altogether.
I was reminded of this fundamental change in my own writing this week while working on some content for a new client. A professional association, it accomplishes much of its work through volunteer committees. I had drafted a simple document for the group's launch and a few committee members had feedback. Which I welcomed and sincerely tried to incorporate in the doc. After all, it is their group and their intent was to clarify the value proposition.
But as I was doing it, I realized that many suggested changes weren't making the document any clearer or more persuasive. They were just more words to say the same thing we'd already said in fewer.
It reminded me of the anime cartoons my son watches that revolve around card game battles and duels. Shows like Yu-Gi-Oh, Bakugan Battle Brawlers and Chaotic. In every show, the combatants have to painstakingly explain what they are doing. Otherwise we would have absolutely no clue. It goes sort of like this:
I use the super monster card which has 200 more life points than your life sucking monster card to free my super duper card, says the hero. Ah ha, replies the villain, but now I play my something or other card that reduces your life points by a factor of ten and allows me to use my life sucking monster card in magna mode. [Huge sigh from the hero's friends] Oh no, says the hero, I didn't see that coming. But I can play my magna-minimizer card to remove your life sucking monster from the field.
And so on. and on. and on.
All this explanation just sucks the excitement right out of the story. Give me a simple sword battle or a good shoot 'em up any day. Where I don't need a scorecard, a narrator or a translator to understand the action.
Clarity. That's what makes a good story. As opposed to a cartoon designed to sell packs of playing cards and other merchandise to kids who will probably never actually play the game. Because it is too complicated.
It's the same for your marketing message. Strip away the adjectives and explanatory clauses. What's left? If you can't tell the story without all the extra explanation in those clauses? If your story seems blah without lots of adjectives? Then you probably don't have a good story and a few more adjectives won't make it so. They are just more empty words, taking up space and contributing nothing.
It's never been more true.
Keep It Simple.
If you've been waiting to hear all about the California trip, I posted the high, and low, lights over at Snapshot Chronicles.
Posted @ 12:08PM in Marketing
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