The Right Words

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Many times over the course of my career I’ve had business people tell me, usually somewhat smugly, that they can write their copy. After all, they say, I know English how hard can it be?

Answer – harder than you might suspect.

Here’s the perfect example.

The other morning I was in Auckland’s notoriously horrific traffic waiting for the lights when a brightly sign-written van pulled alongside my car. I was attracted by the artwork and the colours which were striking. The artist had done a great job.

Attention (the first ‘A’ in our AIDA abbreviation) well achieved.

The van was advertising a cleaning company and duly listed all the different aspects of commercial and residential cleaning services the company could offer. It proudly listed – bathroom, bedroom, windows, toilet, carpet and so on. It seemed a little pedestrian to have all the specific items in a household that could be cleaned listed in big bold bullet points, but hey-ho some people like to be clear.

Under the bullet points the telephone details were listed and the website address too; a nod to the digital age. All good.

By this time the lights had changed through a complete cycle but we were still waiting in the queue to move through the intersection. I laughed at something on the radio, surveyed the rest of the other commuters, and then my eyes flicked back to the brightly coloured van. Something didn’t seem quite right.

I read their marketing tagline, puzzled a bit and then reread it, just to make sure my bleary morning eyes weren’t deceiving me. They weren’t. On the side of the van, there was a promise (or threat?) that supposedly should encourage potential customers to call and book their cleaning services. It said:

You’ll be satisfied or your dirt back free!

Really? Be satisfied or else? Or we’ll muck up your office or home again?

Everything about the message was on point, except for one important thing. The copywriter had spelt everything correctly, he or she had used correct syntax and grammar and the sign writer had delivered an eye-catching piece of commercial art, that really did grab attention. As a message though, particularly as a tagline it just didn’t work.

That’s when I thought about all those times people have protested about paying a professional copywriter to wrangle the copy for their signs, advertisements, or websites. And, all those times that people have paid large amounts of money for their marketing efforts to look good, but skimped on the articulation of the message.

In marketing, as with many other things in life, good looks aren’t everything, and an ability to communicate doesn’t make you a professional communicator. If you want to communicate marketing messages that mean something and really engage potential customers, hire professionals who know what they’re doing.

Oh, and if you want to talk with us about creating great content that really works, drop us a line. We can help you out. Contact us about content marketing.

Until our next digital discussion, 

Vicki 

 

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