One of the most important aspects of writing marketing content is brevity. The old saying goes:
Sorry I wrote a long letter, I had no time to make it shorter.
This paraphrased quote dates from the 17th century, which shows the importance of writing concisely has been know about for centuries. How do you avoid long rambling sentences like this one, that confuse and annoy a reader, contribute next to zero to the actual topic supposedly under discussion, ensure that readability suffers to the point of utter incomprehensibility and leave the reader wondering what on earth the article was in fact trying to say at all!? Or, to put it another way: How do you write clearly and concisely?
Avoid passive grammar
This is a temptation to be avoided. Passive grammar adds unnecessary words, lenghtens sentences and adds no value. Here are some examples to illustrate the point:
- The report was submitted by Dr Rentoul
- Dr Rentoul submitted the report.
- The meal was fantastic and had been prepared by Mike.
- Mike prepared the fantastic meal.
- The marketing presentation was given by Sarah-Jane.
- Sarah-Jane gave the marketing presentation.
Write for your reader
A writer should be an expert on the topic they are writing about. However, this leads to twin temptations:
- Assuming the reader already knows about the topic.
- Use of acronyms and keywords that are not familiar to a novice.
Keep it simple! Unless you really know your readership, don’t assume anything. Avoid acronyms, explain and add value for your reader. Your goal at the end should be that the reader says to themselves:
I feel smarter for reading this content!
A reader in this frame of mind, is ready to take the next step, to sign up for a mailing list, to request further information or more.
Strip it back
A good technique is to write your draft and then return to it an hour or two later. This gives the mind time to reset and gain distance from the writing process. Re-read and cut out needless words and even sentences. Try to put yourself in the place of your reader, coming to the article afresh. After reading, ask yourself how do you feel? Enlightened? Confused? Ideally have an independent colleague read and review.
Give yourself time to review and reduce, your readers will thank you.
Please head over to our Email Marketing section for more hints and tips.