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The One Vital Rule Every Copywriter Needs to Know

Discussion in 'Copywriting & Sales Persuasion' started by Madhat27, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. Madhat27

    Madhat27 Newbie

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    Simple Words for Simple Needs

    Not too long ago, Gov.uk garnered a lot of praise for their online efforts. Rightly so. And here?s another area where they are a shining example to the rest of us. Their use of language.

    Back in 2013, they issued a style guide that banned all of the laughable terms and phrases politicians so often use. There was to be no more generalizing, no more begging the question, and most of all no more confusion.

    At least, that?s the idea.

    Style Guide

    The style guide provides a list of terms and phrases which are now off limits. The aim is to make statements clearer so that information can be conveyed more effectively. Which is my own verbose way of saying, they?re meant to talk like people - not politicians.

    Banned jargon includes:


    • Slimming down (except for dieting)


    • Foster (except for children)


    • Agenda (meetings only)


    • Pledge/Commit (either do it or don?t)


    • Deliver (only for pizza and mail)


    • Deploy (military)


    • Dialogue (for screenplays and prose)


    • Key (only for locks)


    • Progress (as a verb is meaningless)


    • Promote (marketing or rank)


    • Strengthening (structures only)


    • Tackling (sports term only)


    • Transforming (replace with specific actions)


    • Going Forward (politicians code for, we?ll get around to it)

    Workplace Politics

    No, I haven?t just changed the subject to why Joseph got the promotion instead of you when he just happens to be friends with your manager?s son. Maybe another time. Right now, I?m still focused on words.

    It occurs to me that many of us still use phrases a lot like these. I?ve used one or two in the past myself. ?Key? in particular, and ?deliver?, usually about results or value.

    While there?s nothing wrong with it, per se, language is much clearer if we just use the words we would in daily conversation. After all, that?s what customers are looking for. They want information in terms they can understand. They want to know what you can currently offer, not what?s on your agenda. They want to see your current results, not ideas for ?going forward?.

    Bamboozling clients doesn?t work - unless you work in the stock market. For everyone else, there is no better strategy than transparency. Show your results, share your plan for the future, even reveal your failures if you think you have learned from it. This kind of openness builds trust, and allowing customers to know what is going on inside your business helps them feel like part of it. That, in turn, results in customer loyalty.

    We know when someone is avoiding the question or changing the subject. When someone is hiding behind biased statistics or inflated reviews. It?s obvious. And we don?t like it. It feels like a betrayal of trust, an attempt to swindle us? it feels like politics. That's entirely the wrong impression to give. It's time to think about our customers, and what they want and what they'll react to.

    Clear concise content is the order of the day. But admittedly it?s harder than it looks!
     
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  2. EverestOnline

    EverestOnline Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Clear and concise is indeed best :)
     
  3. LoftPower

    LoftPower Elite Member

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    Very nice post here. I agree that clear and concise should be what every writer strides for!
     
  4. ADLUDUM

    ADLUDUM Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Indeed. It's best to be concise as much as possible and get to the point. But what should not be ignored is that the effectiveness of a particular style of language heavily depends on what the environment/circumstance/audience allows. Certain styles do better than other ones at certain times, it's not a black and white tale. So words like Deliver and Deploy can be very effective if used at the right time and at the right place. The key I think is being able to adapt your language to your audience by understanding what they really want and look for in the first place.

    You can't expect a jeweller to talk like he's selling fish & chips and you can't expect an owner of a fish & chips shop to talk like he's selling high karat diamond rings.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
  5. Madhat27

    Madhat27 Newbie

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    True enough. But we tend to be suspicious of businessmen who use a lot of jargon. We start to think they're trying to confuse us and trick us into paying more than we should. You would expect different language from a jeweler and a shop owner, but this isn't concerned with industry terms and specialist knowledge. They're just phrases used to sound more impressive. It's so cliche now that they are virtually meaningless, and it reflects on the business you're representing.

    So, I have to disagree with you. Deliver and Deploy are words used when someone is fumbling to cover up past mistakes but doesn't actually have the answers. Unless you're actually offering delivery on the product you're talking about, I'd side with gov.uk on that one.
     
  6. sakari

    sakari BANNED BANNED

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    Writing as clearly and concisely and as to-the-point as possible is an art, make no mistake. If you find a copywriter who's able to write like that, get a grip on him/her asap.
     
  7. kuro999

    kuro999 Regular Member

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    Writing clearly and concisely is always something that any good writer should be focusing on when writing. As stated above if you can get a writer like that keep a grip.
     
  8. ADLUDUM

    ADLUDUM Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    True. I just think there's a gradient to the use of these terms.
     
  9. tsubibo

    tsubibo Registered Member

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    That cuts out a lot of words and phrases that politicians use to befuddle the masses. Hope that some people read this and get enlightened that most politicians are all smoke and mirrors.
     
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  10. TechFinder

    TechFinder Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Very true. I am totally agree with this post. It's always best to be clear and concise as much as possible and get to the point.