Skip over the obvious proofread-proofread-proofread step for a minute, assuming your content is beautifully free of grammatical errors, and try out one or all of the following ideas to give your copy an extra boost.
1) Get an outside perspective. This is a critical step to take with any piece of content. As marketers, we can sometimes forget that after staring at our work all day every day, what might make perfect sense to us can seem foreign and confusing to someone else. So grab a co-worker, friend, or trusted ex-colleague to give you open and honest feedback. He or she does not need to fully understand what you do; after all, typically not everyone in your audience will have this understanding.
2) Cut it apart, and put it back together. This was a trick I learned from my writing professor in college, and I have always been amazed at the results. Print out your content, whatever it is, and cut apart the paragraphs, bullets, or even words. Then, mix up your shreds of paper andput them back together in a logical order. If you end up with a different order, or have pieces left over, you likely have a more logical flow than the pre-shredded version.
3) Take an emotional assessment. How does you or your reader feel when reading the piece? Happy? Motivated? Amused? Does this feeling match with the emotional intent of your marketing tactic? If you’ve ever had a sarcastic email taken in the wrong context, then you know well enough to stay clear of that tone, but even trying to be too hilarious, powerful, or direct can come off too strong and push people away. As Goldilocks would attest, it needs to be just right.
4) Remove clichés and obscure analogies. Yes, I wrote that Goldilocks line on purpose. Using clichés in conversation (because you can laugh right after saying it) can be okay in limited doses, but using them in marketing can be annoying or confusing. In the case of analogies, we can sometimes try so hard to make our headline catchy and creative that we forget the core tenants of keeping it straightforward and simple. If your headline requires a paragraph of copy to make sense, then it’s not written clearly enough. And, you’re losing the short attention span of your audience explaining your creative analogy, rather than driving them to your point.
5) Make it skim-able. We all wish that our readers would take in our content start-to-finish like a good book, but that’s not reality. If you can break a paragraph into bullet points, do it. If your content is long, add sub-headings to introduce each section. If there is one thing that you want the reader to notice within the first second of seeing your marketing, then bold it, highlight it, make it bigger, or add white space around it. These simple tactics will allow the reader to skim your content while allowing you to get your point across even with the quickest of impressions.What tricks do you use? We’d love to hear them.