Deflowering Copy

Today I got some feedback on two fundraising letters I wrote for a university client. My immediate clients apparently were satisfied with the letters, but their boss wanted some changes. The feedback: “Less flowery. More brief and should be toned down a little.”

Actually, it made sense as I thought about the audience, a board of trustees who, I imagine, is a conservative bunch. My copy was too peppy and, well, flowery. In a way, I was proud to receive that type of feedback. I can remember a time in my writing career when I was so straightforward and inhibited that I probably couldn’t be accused of writing flowery copy no matter how hard I tried. That’s changed.

So, how did I “deflower” the copy?

I’m still working on it, but two things I’ve done is cut the copy and remove modifiers. I’ve also removed or changed language that has a lofty ring. In addition, I’ve taken a more direct and businesslike route to the ask. My goal is for the copy to sound more like a business letter than a fundraising letter. Hopefully, that will do the trick.

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