Renegade Adjectives

“Step aside and let us handle this sale.”
–a roving band of adjectives

Too many adjectives can drain the selling power out of your copy. They may look and sound good, but get them in a group and they’re likely to turn your copy into vain blather.

If you let them, adjectives will crowd into your sentences like it’s the New York subway during rush hour. Your nouns and verbs will have to work harder than they should. Your copy will plod along. Readers will lose interest.

Don’t let this happen! Choose your adjectives carefully and in limited quantities. Edit ruthlessly. Use the delete key. Your marketing and sales depend on it.


Just Say No to Business Jargon

If you’re a copywriter or marketing communications pro, then you know it’s a no-no to use business jargon. Yet, jargon infiltrates messages every cotton pickin’ day in the corporate world.

Copywriter Nick Usborne has found a creative way to express his business jargon protest: coffee mugs and t-shirts.

Here are a few of my favorite lines:

  • Shift my paradigm before I’ve had my morning coffee and I’ll core your competencies.
  • Our alliance stands alone in demonstrating the extensivity of integrated partnerships with other collaboratives.
  • Most new paradigms are worth about 20 cents.

More protest lines here. (And, no, I don’t make a penny if you buy a mug or t-shirt.)

Magic Marketing Words

I’ve seen the word lists of copywriting legends and others. Now I’ve started my own word list below. My word list is not comprehensive, but is offered to help you think about words that have special marketing and selling power.

These words can be effective for B2B or B2C.


Continue reading “Magic Marketing Words”

5 Tips for Finding the Right Words

Finding the right words or word. This is the challenge for all who write to inform and persuade. While I have yet to discover a magic formula, I do have a few ideas on the subject. Following are five reliable tips.

1. Avoid clichés.
Cliché-laden copy lacks originality and spark. Clichés are other people’s words, not your own.

2. Rewrite.
It has been said many times that “writing is rewriting.” Seldom does one draft the perfect headline, script, article, or Web page. Get it down, then work on it. And then work on it some more.

3. Edit.
Here’s a secret: Finding the right words or word is often eliminating the extraneous. A good default is to simplify, clarify and cut copy. You can always add or change a word later.

4. Use a thesaurus.
In English, there are lots of words to choose from. So brighten up those verbs. Find the ideal adjective. But don’t try to impress with big or obscure words. Instead, stick to words that aid comprehension.

5. Read copy aloud.

This is the final test. How do the words sound? Your ear will tell you which words don’t belong.

What You’re Really Selling

I remember once looking at Jay Conrad Levinson’s 100 marketing weapons on his Guerilla Marketing Web site. All 100 can stimulate your thinking on marketing tactics, whether you’re a solo practitioner or mega corporation.

I had been considering writing about benefits when I saw it on Jay’s list, No. 44.

Do you have a comprehensive list of benefits for your product(s) and service(s)? Have you updated it recently?

No matter what business you’re in, you’re not selling products and services. Well, maybe you are, but clients and customers are buying tangible or perceived benefits.

When you truly understand what those benefits are and present them in a compelling way, leads and sales will grow.

The Power of First Person

If handled correctly, first person has an authenticity and power that’s often absent in today’s hyped-up communications.

Here’s the opening of a fundraising letter I wrote this week. The signer will be a grad school alum, and I strived to keep the message straightforward and dignified, which was how she struck me in the telephone interview:

This year marks my 50th anniversary as a graduate of the (prestigious university). The master’s degree I earned in 1958 launched my career as a junior high school counselor in the city schools, where I remained for 23 years until my retirement. My graduate degree had a lasting impact on me and those I counseled.

I have made a financial gift to the school each of the last 50 years. When asked why I am such a loyal supporter, I say I simply feel it is my place to give back …

And a paragraph later, the ask …

I ask that you please join me by making your next gift today.

I love first person. You transmit the thoughts and feelings of a real person as honestly as you can, with the right amount of persuasion thrown in.

Try it in B2B copywriting, blog posts, fundraising and other communications. It works.

5 Tips for Breezing Through a First Draft

“Writing is a hellish task, best snuck up on, whacked on the head, robbed and left for dead.”
–Ann-Marie MacDonald, author, The Way the Crow Flies

Can’t write? Intimidated? Scared out of your wits? Facing a first draft can produce a cold sweat.

Do as Ann-Marie MacDonald says: sneak up on the task. Here are five tips on what to do when the words won’t come.

1. Write “notes.”
This is a way to trick your brain into writing. You’re not writing the real stuff, just writing down a bunch of notes about your subject for the ad, Web page, or article. And with a little work those notes can be crafted into copy.

2. Create an outline.

Get organized: Make a list, bullet points, or an outline. This gets you into the writing process.

Continue reading “5 Tips for Breezing Through a First Draft”