Winning the War of Words

Winning the War of Words

Thanks to innovation, competition, consumer demand and regulatory pressures, today’s products and services are becoming more complex in their quest to make life easier.

That’s the good news.  Now the bad news for marketers:  people reach information overload fast, have limited attention spans, and really don’t like to read.  (This reporter’s opinion.)

So how can writers and designers do justice to these products, increase response rates and “tell the story” without losing the audience in a welter of words?  (Ah, there’s the rub.)

Here are some ideas:

Start with clear, compelling selling propositions.
Do the brainwork first.  It’s key to forging more effective marketing copy and a more compelling story overall.

Employ a repetitive messaging hierarchy.
Know your customers’ “hot buttons” and their products’ most important selling points.  Give them top billing—everywhere.

Design it right.
Good art directors know how to use layout, balance, unity, emphasis, rhythm and pacing to draw the viewer through the story.  Don’t get in their way.

Let the story breathe.
Use headlines and subheadings to deliver essential messaging.  Stick to short, highly focused sentences.  Insert blank lines to break up paragraphs.  Give readers’ eyes a break with white space.

Say to heck with text altogether.
Instead of copy, consider video, pictures, illustrations, infographics—even audio clips—to help the reader “discover” what you’re selling.

Use proven performers.
Tap the power of call-outs, bulleted or numbered lists, Johnson Box copy and the all-important P.S., along with visual “violators” such as strikethroughs, bursts and the like.

Break it up.
Some service offerings are so broad they can’t be told in one sitting.  So spread your sales message across multiple components or touch points.  And know when to refer readers elsewhere for details.

In those fleeting seconds when you’ve grabbed someone’s attention, crisp copy and smart design are crucial to selling today’s feature-packed products, service-rich companies—even something as simple as cat food.

As for all those offending words you’ve banished, may I suggest a suspended sentence?

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