Imagine this: Your organization has just released a new product or is anxious to announce a new initiative. Your giddy executives call you in to tell you that everybody should be as excited about this as they are and it’s your job — nay, your privilege — to make it happen.
Here’s the thing: Nobody ever — and I mean ever — is going to be as excited about your organization’s new products and initiatives as those within the organization are. So, the question begs to be asked: How do you get people to pay attention to your promo writing when they don’t know that they should care?
Your promo copy should gently nudge your audience toward seeing the value of your new products or initiatives — not beat them over the head with a hammer of hyperbole.
You can still be excited, but your writing needs to remain poised, polished and professional.
Consider these eight proven ways to make readers pay attention to your promo writing:
1. Avoid exclamation points.
Using exclamation points in your writing might be the laziest way to attempt to “build excitement” among your audience. Not only is the belief that you will excite people with a few well-placed exclamation points wrong — it’s embarrassing. You’re not a used-car salesman. You are a professional communicator. Act like one.
When tempted to use an exclamation point, consider how your audience speaks. How often do they use exclamation points in their verbal speech each day? For most of us, we only use exclamation points when we truly are excited about something.
Only use exclamation points in your writing if your initiative or product would cause the same urgent response from readers that they would have if they reunited with a long-lost family member or if their house burst in flames.
2. Build anticipation.
The more anticipation you build within your readers, the more likely they will be to pay attention to additional upcoming communication. Help your readers feel like they are part of a special, in-the-know group by using words like “exclusive,” “limited,” or “by invitation only.”
See this example of how Disneyland uses “exclusive” to build anticipation about… buttons. Yes, I said buttons. It almost works, too, if only they had dropped the exclamation point (sigh).
Beginning today, Annual Passholders who mobile order from select locations can redeem an AP exclusive button! Question is… which location are you ordering from first? Available while supplies last. pic.twitter.com/Jo4dTM0rzq
— Disneyland AP (@DisneylandAP) July 3, 2019
Remember, a little exclusivity can go a long way when it comes to helping your audience feel like they’re a “part” of your brand.
3. Use concrete nouns and vivid verbs.
Mark Twain once wrote the following to critique a writing student:
“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English — it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.”
Concrete nouns are nouns you can experience with your senses. Yes, you can see, taste, hear, smell and feel concrete nouns. Due to the fact they can be experienced, they tend to jump off the page more than abstract nouns.
Vivid verbs are more descriptive than typical verbs. For example, you don’t “break” a mirror — you “crack” it. Likewise, you don’t “run” inside — you “dart.” The combination of concrete nouns and vivid verbs allows your audience to experience your promo writing — not just read it (or worse, ignore it).
4. Kill adjectives.
Speaking of Mark Twain, the rest of his letter to the student offered this sage advice:
“When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them — then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.”
The purpose of removing adjectives stems from the same reason why you should use concrete nouns and vivid verbs. The point is this: If your nouns are concrete and your verbs are vivid, there will be few reasons to use adjectives in your writing. Like Twain said, don’t kill them all — but get rid of most of them.
5. Infuse personality.
One of the easiest ways to infuse personality in your promo writing is to write your marketing copy in first person. Rather than sending an email or publishing a social post from your brand voice, consider doing so with an individual voice instead.
Take the following for example:
- Brand voice example: “We are pleased to announce our new product.”
- Personal voice example: “Hey guys, I wanted to let you in on a new product that I think you’ll like.”
Can you feel the difference? Your readers will, too.
Word choice isn’t the only way to get readers to pay attention to your writing. You can also capture readers’ attention by “how” you write certain words. In academia, well-placed italics or underlined text have long allowed writers to draw attention to specific words.
Additionally, a little bolded text to draw readers’ attention to specific words in text can do a lot to promote specific thoughts and ideas.
7. Use persuasive words.
David Ogilvy, considered by many to be the godfather of marketing, identified 20 words he considered to be the most persuasive words in marketing.
These words include:
Many of these words have stood the test of time, while a few (sorry “miracle” and “magic”) should be avoided if you hope to retain any credibility with your audience. Try using — and testing — some of these words in your marketing emails, headlines and social copy and see if these words drive success
8. Alter sentence structure.
Utilizing the same sentence structure in your copy can bore your readers.
Instead, consider the following suggestions from blogger Ali Luke to keep your readers on their toes:
- Break up long sentences
- Vary the subject of your sentences
- Juxtapose long and short sentences next to one another
Remember: There is no magic remedy to getting your readers to pay attention to your promo copy, but paying attention to the above-mentioned principles will increase the likelihood of it being seen.