|Ten tips for better writing
Mike Druttman, Copywriter
Anybody planning to put a web site online should take a step back and consider what’s happening in the Internet environment.
Here are ten tips that will help you improve the content of your web site, brochure, press release or business plan.
- Take a bold creative approach - Consider carefully how you can be different from your competitors. What creative ways are there to present the main problem, and then your solution? Creating a strong headline, short and appealing text as well as eye-catching visuals is a good way to grab attention in a noisy marketplace.
- Keep your target in mind - Talk directly to your main customers’ needs. Keep asking ‘What’s in it for them?’ As you answer this question throughout the text, you will also double-check whether the value that you offer is good enough. If you try to satisfy all potential groups, you’ll miss your primary goal.
- Be conscious of clarity - To show a clear benefit, you have to explain it in a simpler way. It’s much better to say ‘There’s a world of information just waiting for you’ than ‘Thousands of databases may be accessed by individuals’. After you’ve written something, stand back from the text and ask yourself if everyone will understand it at first glance.
- Get to the point early - People are impatient readers. They don’t have time for you to ‘set the scene’. So you have to touch the main points early. Don’t describe what you are going to say (i.e. pointless to say ‘Here is a list of the products benefits…’). Readers appreciate brevity. When you economize on words you give more power to each one.
- Avoid too many superlatives - Watch out for ‘best’, ‘most’, ‘perfect’ - assume your audiences are skeptics who have heard it all before. So how do you impress? Pitch your messages in more modest and less ‘back-slapping’ ways. Give readers enough credit to make up their own minds.
- Don’t be bland and fuzzy - Fuzzy logic is OK. Fuzzy writing is not. If you take refuge in common industry buzzwords like ‘state-of-the-art’, ‘field-proven’, ‘object -oriented’, you risk sounding like everyone else. Could your copy be describing any product from any company? Shake your readers out of their apathy by writing something fresh.
- Avoid over-importance - Some people will understand your special vocabulary. Others won’t. So keep your language down to earth, and don't preach to them. One way to keep a balance is to make a technical statement, then back it with a more general explanation that stresses the benefit.
- Turn negatives around - It may be very natural to use negatives. However you should limit them to your first draft, then replace them in subsequent drafts. Instead of saying ‘teeth that don’t look youthful’, you could say ‘teeth that look older than they could’.
- Double-check for errors - It’s embarrassing to find a silly mistake after the job’s done. To avoid this, have someone outside the main 'information and approval' loop check for typing and grammatical errors - preferably an independent proofreader. A less than perfect document suggests a company that might also slip up on the fine details elsewhere.
- Increase objectivity for the Web - If your text is concise, scannable and objective, it will be 120% more usable for readers than text that is bloated and written in typical marketing language. In addition, four out of five web users will scan rather than read pages. All this means that applying special writing disciplines to the Web will pay off.
About the author
Mike Druttman is a senior copywriter with great experience in Marketing Communications. He is still fascinated by the power of words and the voyage of discovery that accompanies each new client project. He’s based in Israel. His website is www.futureweb.ws