Marketing: The Forbidden Language

“We will first evaluate the synergy between hosts, unanimously determine project aim and further pursue conclusion. This favorable course will combine instantaneous growth and achievement to gain traction to prosperity.”

This is an actual example of some copy I pulled from an online consulting company. Does anyone have any idea what they are presenting here? This could be an attempt to sell a service, product or a cup of coffee. It seems as if someone wrote a sentence and checked every word on an online thesaurous to make a fancier version of it. When taken from context, a statement should be able to stand by itself, on its own merit and remain understandable. In this article, I want to uncover the forbidden language of marketing and help bring copywriting to justice. Or in other words – I want to syngergize the synergy between the majestic biographies of other entities.

I am not an overly skilled copywriter and consider it to be one of the more difficult tasks in my line of work. When using copy to communicate a product or service, you have to first identify the reader. If you are a bank, don’t use large and complicated verbiage when attempting to coax customers into putting their money in a CD. If you are selling business coaching, professional but understandable text is acceptable. Regardless, construct your copy to be understandable and creative. Despite the popular “pictures are worth a thousand words” statement, you may not actually need a THOUSAND words when describing a product or service. Most of the time, it is the lack there of or secrecy that will generate more interest.

There are levels of information you should give a customer – consumer or business so that you can snag their attention and get them to do something like request more information. It is very important to identify these levels before developing copy. What do you want someone to do after reading promotional material? Where are you placing the verbiage and how will it relate to your printed or web media?

I’ve found it best to always build a product, its attributes and descriptive language as if it was going to be sold or promoted online. A user website experience is a perfect example of how people read, retain and act upon the information fed to them. If you give too much information, the user is more likely to assume they already know enough and it isn’t necessary to request more information. However, if you tease them with just the right amount, they are more likely to be compelled to request additional information. That doesn’t mean one-line descriptions will elevate your success, it just means that you should tease the reader, wet their appetite and encourage them to contact you with a strong call to action.

So, now that you know how to formulate and design your copy with an idea of how much to use, let’s briefly discuss its contents. When working on descriptive text, avoid words like “synergy”. These words are what I like to call ‘default’ words and 62% more likely to be overlooked and ignored. There is a balance between enticing words and words that sound like you are the high school English teacher trying to be cool by dancing at prom – unsuccessful and very, very likely to fail.

Remember who you are attempting to communicate to and always assume ignorance. The worst thing you could do is make someone who you are trying to sell to feel inferior with big words. Try to be enticing, short and to the point. Here is an example of a distracting description of services and an example of one that may be just as effective without being obnoxious:

Bad: “Sample the soothing and immaculate taste of our natural selection of pastries and divine beverages while enjoying the tranquil reception experience complete with complementary Wi-Fi.”

Good: “Wake up and feel at home with continental breakfast served in our reception area while staying connected with fast, free Wi-Fi.”

Sometimes fancy works and sometimes it doesn’t. But, in this situation, just get to the point. The words in my first example don’t necessarily make me want to stay at that particular hotel. In fact, it makes me automatically assume that it is likely too expensive. Now more than ever, people don’t have time to appreciate the thought you put into descriptions that seem overly complicated, give them something simple, fun and memorable. Have fun with it, put something together that will catch their attention. Just remember, less is more and sometimes people just want you to get to the point.


2 thoughts on “Marketing: The Forbidden Language

  1. “We will first evaluate the synergy between hosts, unanimously determine project aim and further pursue conclusion. This favorable course will combine instantaneous growth and achievement to gain traction to prosperity. ”

    When I first read this, I was little confused. I’m an avid reader of all forms of literature, and I failed to make an instant understanding in my mind insofar as it can be ascertained from those two sentences.

    Like that last phrase you just read?

    In writing, sometimes simple is the best answer. Or perhaps rather, for a better word choice: unmistakable. You don’t want your prospective reader to have any doubt as to what you’re writing. The meaning of your text should be clear. What exactly does synergy or insofar mean anyway?

    I’m not entirely sure either.

    Throwing out complicated turns of phrases or unreadable words isn’t going to win you any fans or customers. Like Mr. Hays wrote, the best method of writing may just be simple, fun and memorable. I think I’d prefer that method over dry, complicated and pointless any time…

    Wouldn’t You?

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