EWMC Content KeepItBrief .pdf

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KEEPI N G IT BRIEF
George Hood
Senior Account
Manager

EarlyWMC / Keeping it Brief

The keys to
crafting engaging
marketing copy.
YO U ’ R E PR O BA B LY R E A D I N G T H I S G U I D E B E CAU S E YO U ’ R E LO O K I N G T O

George Hood
Senior Account
Manager

E N G AG E YO U R C U S T O M E R S W I T H T H E WO R D S YO U U S E . YO U M AY H AV E
STRUGGLED TO FIND THE BEST SALES PITCH, THE RIGHT BLEND OF
I N FO R M AT I V E V E R S U S H A R D - S E L L L A N G UAG E , O R YO U S I M PLY WA N T T O
C R E AT E A T O N E O F VO I C E T H AT S TA N D S O U T F R O M T H E C R OW D. W H AT E V E R
YO U R W R I T I N G C H A L L E N G E , T H I S B R I E F G U I D E I S H E R E T O H E L P YO U T O
T U R N WO R D S I N T O S A L E S .
Working in marketing, we deal with a lot of copywriting. Brochures, flyers, ads, websites, whitepapers,
guides and more. The briefs we receive from clients are often tricky, convoluted, and confusing (no
offence to our clients). As marketers, it’s our job to sift through the dust and produce pieces of writing
that simplify the complex, represent the client in the best way possible, and sell.
The process we go through is the same for any client and the rule we stick to here at EarlyWMC is:
keep it simple and brief. A Microsoft study has suggested that humans have an attention span of just
eight seconds. While we’d hope that this isn’t quite true, the data we’ve got access to here at EarlyWMC
marries up with today’s reality of audiences easily distracted by the next Facebook post, Instagram pic,
text or tweet that comes their way.
When we look at statistics on average page view times, scroll rates, and heatmaps for websites we’ve
designed, the value of a clear, short message that speaks instantly to your target audience is obvious.
So how can you avoid presenting your users with far too much information?
Obviously, the best way to learn the art of writing is to write and to read regularly. There are a few
guidelines you can follow, however, that will instantly improve your marketing penmanship and turn
your words into sales.

2

EarlyWMC / Keeping it Brief

1
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S E L L T H E P R O B LEM , NOT THE SOLUTION
It’s tempting to launch into every detail about your awesome product or service - your tech was
developed at CERN, your company has decades worth of experience, and you offer free shipping on
orders over £20. Whilst all of this is important, you first need to earn your audience’s attention, and the
best way to do that is to prove you understand the problem they want you to fix. You only have a few
seconds worth of attention to convince people to keep reading, so talk about something they’ll recognise
and resonate with instantly – the issue they’ve looked you up for in the first place.

K E E P IT A S B R IEF AS YOU CAN
Once you’re finished writing, run through the page and rearrange sentences to cut down your total word
count. Avoid tautology (saying the same thing twice). This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to do, for
example: ‘I went there personally.’ Brevity is the soul of wit.

D O N ’T S A C R IF ICE SIM PLICITY FOR FLAIR
Don’t always treat pieces of marketing content as creative writing exercises when they don’t need to be:
begin work by defining a clear objective or message and then summarise it, in simple terms.

4

T H IN K A B OU T Y OUR AUDIENCE

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A N T IC IP A T E T H E QUESTIONS OF YOUR AUDIENCE

Who’s reading this? In which medium are they reading it? One exercise we’ll always perform with
clients before getting started on a campaign is audience profiling. Again, it seems obvious, but different
demographics require completely different marketing approaches, language and style.
A ‘cold’ email, for example, should take a completely different tone to one you send to customers you
already have a relationship with. You haven’t yet proven yourself to be valuable to their interests, so
should bear in mind that the subject and first few lines of copy will dictate whether your prospect
chooses to read on or discard your email as spam.

What are they thinking when they reach your website, read your brochure or product flyer? What are
their concerns likely to be? It’s easy when you’ve designed a product or service to lose sight of the
concerns your average customer might have – you need to be objective. Put yourself in their shoes.

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U S E C OME D Y WITH CAUTION

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B R U S H U P O N Y OUR GRAM M AR

This next bit of advice will be a ground-breaking revelation for many: you don’t have to include a pun.
Witticism is great, but sometimes the stars of the English Language just won’t align for you and there’s
nothing wrong with that: shoe-horning in a half-baked pun will achieve nothing but groans from your
target audience.

Seriously, even if you think yours is great - it’s not just the complex stuff like semicolons that we see
people having trouble with. One of the most common mistakes we see people make are superfluous
commas - which stick out like a sore thumb to anyone who paid attention during English lessons.
Nobody likes a grammar nerd, but they exist and your mistakes will cost you their business.

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EarlyWMC / Keeping it Brief

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L IMIT T H E U S E OF ‘M AYBE’ W ORDS
One problem that plagues a lot of writers is that they appear to have very little confidence in what
they’re saying. Some words and phrases to avoid include: ‘possibly,’ ‘perhaps,’ ‘arguably,’ and ‘in my/our
opinion.’ Subconsciously, readers see these words as signs that you’re playing fast and loose with the
truth. If you’re writing something, and it’s what you actually think, then act like you believe what you’re
saying (and if you don’t, act like you do). Your tone of voice should always be confident.

D O N ’T R E L Y O N FONT BUTTONS
Capitalisation, underlining or hitting the bold and italics buttons every two seconds to emphasise a
point looks lazy and can interrupt the flow. Your writing should speak for itself, confidently without font
embellishment or the addition of smileys. That said, some of the techniques cautioned above do have
their valid use if deployed sparingly and with care.

L E T T H E M K N O W W HAT TO DO NEXT
Finish with a strong, clear call to action. It never ceases to amaze us how many so-called marketers
forget this last one. You need to tell your reader what to do next and by when, how to get your product,
where to buy it or how to reach you. We’ve tried, tested and proven this model time and time again to be
the best way to construct a piece of marketing copy that engages and sells.

T H E E N GL IS H L A N GU AGE IS FU LL OF IN C ON S IS TE N C IE S A N D ID IOS Y N CRASI ES

George Hood

is one of the
talented copywriters
at EarlyWMC

MA K IN G IT IM POS SIB LE TO W R ITE A D E FIN ITIV E LIS T OF R U LE S TH A T WI LL
A L WA YS B E A P PL IC A B LE , S O TA K E W H A T W E ’V E S A ID A B OV E A S R U LES
OF T H U MB ; GEN ER A LLY S P E A K IN G TH OU GH , FOLLOW IN G TH E M W ILL M EAN
A C L E A R ER M ES SA GE TH A T LE A V E S P OTE N TIA L C U S TOME R S MU C H M O RE
L IK EL Y T O EN GA GE AN D B U Y .

THANKS FOR READIN G
Thanks for reading - for more content like this,
visit www.earlywmc.com. To get in touch and find
out how we can fulfil all your marketing needs,
send us an email at sayhello@earlywmc.com or
call +44 (0) 20 3488 3500.

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