by Elizabeth Johnson
In college I had an economics professor who decided to bring a whistle to class one day so that he could blow the whistle before making an important point in his lecture. As the class wore on, he was blowing the whistle before every sentence and thus just began saying “tweet, tweet” before making his next point.
I’ve never forgotten that specific lecture—not the content to be sure—no memory of what was so important, but my reaction to that tactic. I thought, what was the purpose of the whistle to highlight important points if it’s all categorized as “important”? And the same is true in marketing writing—when you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.
After nearly 15 years of writing marketing materials for events ranging from small meetings to large tradeshows, I’ve honed a writing style that cuts through the clutter. It boils down to two basic rules. Next time you sit down to write or edit a marketing email, keep this in mind:
- Make it about them—stop and put yourself in the reader’s shoes and identify what is the most important information they need to make the decision to attend. When organizations create a message that puts themselves ahead of the recipient of that message, an opportunity to connect and engage is lost. Make sure the message speaks to the reader’s needs, rather than the points your organization wants them to need.
- Keep it short—respect the reader’s time. No one is reading a business-related marketing piece—email, brochure, press release or other—for fun. They are reading it for information they need. Take time to review the marketing piece and eliminate “fluff” (copy that doesn’t provide the reader the most critical information). Let them find the details on your website or blog if they need more to make their decision.
Changing your way of thinking on messaging and writing style takes time and practice, but it allows you to keep more readers, earn more clicks to your website and lose less of your recipients to eyes glazing over as they try to sift through the fluff to get to the nugget that’s important to them.
Elizabeth Johnson is director of content marketing at Frost Miller. Opinions are her own. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.