I understand you, marketers. You want to be engaging, exciting, hopefully funny, and make your content go viral by sheer force of your own awesomeness. But the content that gets popular is the content that isn’t forced. Push too hard and you’ll end up coming across like a salesman rather than a brand advocate, or worse, you’ll just sound goofy and out of touch.
(Don’t Be This Guy.)
So here are five pitfalls marketing copy tends to fall into. Avoid at all costs!
1. TOO EXCITED!!!!
Please don’t do this. Using all caps sounds like you’re screaming at your audience. Put the e-megaphone down and try communicating like a normal person. Don’t abuse punctuation, either. Avoid multiple exclamation marks and overly liberal use of the ellipsis. Trailing off all the time… just makes you sound… I don’t know… sort of indecisive. Also, don’t RANDOMLY CAPITALIZE! words that you want to EMPHASIZE in your TEXT. Again, it just kind of looks like you’re yelling. Italicize if you need emphasis. Coming across as too excited can sound pushy, or like all you care about is the sale instead of your audience’s actual wants and needs, and few things are more of a turn off than having a sales pitch blasted in your face at full volume. Respect your audience and address them like they want to hear from you, not like you have to shout at them to be heard.
2. Not Excited Enough…
The opposite problem can be just as bad. Come across as staid, boring, and out of touch, and no one is going to care about your marketing efforts. If your writing voice is paper dry and about as fun as reading the back of a soup can, why is anyone going to waste their precious time on your content?
(Don’t Be This Guy Either.)
Especially in an age of much more limited attention spans, you have less time than ever to try and capture your audience. Studies say that many users will spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage, and some say that digital attention spans have shrunk to be as little as 8 seconds! Start out by being as exciting as dry, stale old toast and you’ve already lost a sizable chunk of your audience. Try to at least sound vaguely interested in your own topic. Reciting a list of facts in the driest, most professorial manner possible won’t win you any points – or any eyeballs on your webpages. If you sound excited about your campaign, you might be able to make other people feel excited too! But again, don’t overdo it. See point 1. The idea is to strike a balance between engagingly exciting and usefully factual. If you need a fun way to convey a boring list of facts or statistics, consider the ever-popular infographic.
3. Tpyo-Riddled Or Grammar Wrong
Even worse than being boring is being just plain sloppy. Proof your copy for errors. Make sure you’re employing at least a sixth grade level of spelling and syntax. Let too many errors slip into your copy, and you’ll look incredibly unprofessional. Most of all, you’ll look like you don’t care. And if you don’t care, why should your potential audiences? You don’t need to call in the Grammar Police to assist on your every initiative, but at least make a good faith effort at proper writing.
Not sure what constitutes good writing? Need a syntax assist? There are tons of free resources out there that are ready to help. The Purdue Online Writing Lab is exactly what it says on the tin: a fully-fledged writing lab that’s completely free to access. So now you have no excuses when it comes to writing like you managed to pass English class.
4. Trying Too Hard To Be “Hip” Like The “Cool Kids”
See Steve Buscemi at the top of the article? Try too hard to come across as “rad” and “far out cool” will make you seem like that guy, an ancient fogey trying to fit in with a bunch of actually cool young people. Examples of trying too hard include using slang you really shouldn’t be using in marketing copy (please stay away from Urban Dictionary) or sprinkling your text with dated lingo. Like, you wouldn’t, like, call something totally gnarly, right? There are plenty of ways to be fresh and fun without falling into the trap of trying to sound like a millennial and failing. No points are awarded for attempts at coolness.
(You Could Get A Nice Gold Star For Effort, Though.)
5. Writing For The Wrong Audience
Your audience needs to be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to anything in marketing, and this includes drafting copy. Consider: the tone I’m employing as I write this blog post is very intentional! Casual, relaxed, engaged, and slightly humorous (as you can plainly see, I’m very funny) is a good fit for this type of post. This researcher hasn’t started writing under the presumption of completing a detailed scientific research paper, nor have i like, uh, started typing like i woukld if i were on instant messenger. lol.
Make sure you pitch your tone and style of writing to the audience you’re aiming for. To do that, you have to understand what audience you’re reaching out to! You should already know, but if you don’t, take the time to do a little research. Browse publications and articles you think your audience would be reading, and imagine pitching your copy in that same tone and style. (But don’t plagiarize! We’re emulating tone here, not copying ideas word-for-word.)
Skirt past these typical pitfalls and your polished, audience-focused, well-written marketing copy will be well on the way to success, as well as actually cool. Because as we all know, you can’t be cool unless you’re not trying to be cool.