5 Ways Words Can Destroy Your Marketing Messages (And How to Fix Them)
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
If your marketing messages aren’t powerful and don’t speak to the right audiences, they won’t deliver the results you need. In other words, you’ll lose money on your investments, and you’ll lose sales. No business owner can afford that!
Words carry a lot of weight, and you need to use them wisely in your marketing messages. An experienced copywriter can craft messages that communicate effectively and motivate the audience to take action, but what if you can’t afford to hire a copywriter? What if you’re not sure the copywriter you’re working with is any good?
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Fortunately, there are a number of theories you can learn and tools you can use to write better marketing messages yourself or to ensure the writer you’re working with is delivering quality copy. Here are five ways words can destroy your marketing and simple ways you can fix them.
1. You used too many words.
Research has found that people have an attention span of just eight seconds, so you don’t have much time to get your message across to your audience. It’s even worse for younger audiences. Millennials have a five-second attention span for ads!
Bottom line, every word that isn’t necessary needs to be deleted from your copy or you run the risk of investing a lot of time and money into a marketing piece that people will ignore before they see or hear the call to action. Get to the point! Here are three ways to do it:
K.I.S.S. rule of copywriting: Remove filler words from your copy to keep it simple. For example, words like "really," "that" and "very" should be deleted without mercy. Don’t feel bad for these words. Delete them!
T.M.I. rule of copywriting: Don’t let your audience get bored or distracted as you weave a lovely story. If text doesn’t support the goal of the marketing piece, get rid of it. Remember, you only have five to eight seconds, don’t waste them!
Red pen rule of copywriting: Keep your copy succinct, and it will almost always be more powerful. Once you’ve written your messages, get out your red pen and delete at least 30 percent of it. The objective is to delete a significant amount of copy, because it’s likely what you delete doesn’t include your strongest messages. You’ll be left with something that actually drives the results you need.
2. You used jargon.
Big words and jargon are rarely appropriate in ads and marketing materials unless you’re in a highly technical or regulated industry. Even then, your audience will probably prefer you leave the jargon out, or it just looks like you’re trying too hard.
One of the most important factors to write great marketing messages is understanding your audience and writing copy that speaks to them. It doesn’t matter if you love the word grassroots. If your audience won’t respond to it positively, leave it out. The last thing you want is for your audience to cringe when they read or hear your messages. That’s a guaranteed way to lose sales.
Review your copy and find the jargon or excessively big words. Do those words enhance the message and make it more meaningful to the audience or do those words interrupt the reader or listener? Unless jargon and big words have special places in your audience’s hearts, replace them with simpler words.
3. You used the wrong pronouns.
Great marketing messages speak about the audience, not just about the company behind the products or services being offered. Therefore, your copy should use second person pronouns (you, your, yours) far more often than first person pronouns (I, me, mine, we, us, our, ours).
The truth is no one cares about you. They care about how your products or services can help them or make their lives easier. This is the cornerstone of the fundamental rule of marketing, which says, “Your product or service is far less important than its ability to fulfill your customers’ needs.” If your messages only talk about you, they’ll fail.
To fix this problem, review your copy looking for every instance where you use first person pronouns and talk about your company rather than about consumers’ wants and needs. Now, think about how you can turn messages that focus on you around and show how that information about your company actually benefits consumers.
For example, you might have 300 customer service agents, but why should a consumer care? That number is meaningless until you give it meaning. Instead, say the wait time to get help via phone is extremely low since there is always someone available to take the customer’s calls. Remember, copy should always focus on benefits, not just features.
4. You used passive verbs.
When you invest in an ad or marketing piece, you typically want it to drive some kind of action from an audience. It includes a call to action that should motivate people to actually take that action. However, making a simple mistake like using passive voice rather than active voice in your sentence structure could negatively affect the results.
In a passive voice sentence, the subject of the sentence receives the action of the verb (e.g., the ball was kicked by John), but in an active voice sentence, the subject of the sentence performs the action of the verb (e.g., John kicked the ball). Do you want people to take action or just think about taking that action? To elicit an active response from the audience, use the active voice in your copy.
Fixing this problem takes some sentence restructuring. Read through your messages and replace passive voice sentences with active voice sentences whenever possible. Keep in mind, adding a sense of urgency to your calls to action can boost results even higher. Don’t suggest an action, demand it -- now!
5. You didn't use emotional words.
Does your copy tap into the audience’s emotional triggers? If not, your results will be lower than they could be if you rewrote your messages to make people feel something. Copy that evokes emotional responses in consumers is almost always more effective than copy that does not. Why? Because most purchase decisions are ruled at least in part by emotions.
Emotional triggers include fear, guilt, comfort, competition, trust and more. Follow the link for a great list of emotional triggers that you can use as a starting point to improve your marketing messages.
You can fix this problem in your messages by thinking about the benefits your product or service delivers to the target audience. Determine which benefits appeal to consumers’ emotional triggers and ensure messages related to those benefits and emotions are included in your marketing materials.
Know your next steps.
Even if you don’t have the budget to invest in a great copywriter, you can improve your marketing messages by keeping the five ways words can destroy your copy in mind as you write. Follow the tips above to fix those problems, and you’ll be on your way to seeing bigger and better results from your marketing investments!