The 10 Seconds


by Mr Brand

Copywriting overload: lousy writing, lousy results

Never before in the history of Earth has there been so much writing. And never before has there been so much bad writing.

The bottom line: If you’re going to use words in your marketing, make sure you use them well.

Copywriting with a wireless keyboard

I recently stumbled upon some awful copywriting. Read this and wince for yourself:

‘Try LinkedIn advertising to market to who matters’

Prior to the digital revolution, you would’ve been hard pushed to find ad-copy like this coming out of a multi-million pound company. Traditional marketing seems to have more quality control and a greater respect for the art of copywriting.

Copywriting at its best: why is that sentence so awful?

It’s clunky and fuzzy. The lack of a capital ‘a’ in advertising confuses the reader into thinking it’s a verb instead of being part of the noun Linkedin Advertising. So you read it ‘. . .advertising to market to who matters’. And straight away you’re like, ‘What the hell?’ The message is buried in a jumble of messy ambiguity.

And that’s only part of the problem. The construction ‘. . .to market to who matters’ is an ugly bit of phrasing. It lacks poise. No writer worth their ink would pen something like that without deleting it immediately. This lack of grace combined with the verb confusion makes it difficult to penetrate the meaning.

Finally, what is the meaning anyhow? Say we’ve stuck with it long enough to get through the awkwardness, what then? What does it mean? Marketing to who matters? Who matters? What? Exactly.

I assume the writer is trying to say, ‘Market to the right people’ or something like that, but has done it in such a way as to destroy his own objectives.

Okay wise-guy, if you’re so great, how would you have done it?

Good question. It doesn’t need to be prize-winning literature. Even if you’re not a professional copywriter, you can still produce something better by adhering to three simple guidelines:

  • Clarity
  • Concision
  • Relevance

Is what you’re saying clear and easy to understand? Does it get to the point with minimal fuss? And is it relevant to the reader? Stick to these guidelines and you’ll come up with something a lot better than the Linkedin example. You might produce something like this

“Use LinkedIn Advertising to forge connections with people who care”

which is infinitely better.

A professional copywriter, however, puts more thought into it, looks at the brief, asks questions like, ‘Who is the ad talking to? What makes them tick? What’ll get their attention?’

So what type of person benefits from LinkedIn Advertising? A business owner. A marketing department. Someone selling a product or service. Someone who wants to generate business. So you might settle with something like

“Use LinkedIn Advertising to generate quality leads”

Straight to the point. Clear in its meaning: ‘Here’s a service that can help you achieve your goals.’

Of course, there are many ways this could be developed, refined and turned into a click-magnet. It all depends on how much respect you’re prepared to give the art of copywriting.

Worth it though, considering PPC advertising is a very expensive and risky game.

About the author

About the author

Mr Brand is the ambassador for 10 Seconds. He’s on a mission to give marketing professionals a competitive advantage in the Age of Attention Economics. He believes that to gain such advantage you need crystal clear communication. It’s all about the initial moment. Win people’s attention in the first 10 Seconds and you’ve opened the gateway to the final 10 Seconds, that all important conversion. He also likes to challenge conventional wisdom and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

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