You may have heard the famous quote by philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
He was right in 1656, and he’s right now – it’s much harder to write short than it is to write long.
Expressing your thoughts in a clear and concise way can be an agonizing task. In my previous work in journalism – a field where word counts and page limitations are binding – concise writing was a virtue. And it’s something I’ve found to improve all types of writing – marketing copy included.
Shortening your writing forces you to trim the fat, lose the fluff and get to the point. By writing more concisely, your message is clearer and more likely to stay with people; it won’t be lost and muddled in a thousand adjectives.
Consider some of the most memorable and highly regarded taglines, like Nike’s “Just do it,” or Toyota’s, “Let’s go places.” They’re short, they’re minimal and they’re captivating. This philosophy of concise writing can be applied to not only taglines and slogans, but blogs, website content and (without much choice) social media.
Here are some of the advantages of working toward more concise copywriting, plus some tips on how to audit your own writing to improve its brevity.
Concise Copywriting is More Captivating and Memorable
Particularly when it comes to short-form writing like taglines, slogans and ad copy, concise copywriting is much more memorable. It’s punchy and straight to the point. Sometimes, like in the case of the Nike or Toyota taglines above, it’s oversimplified, which can be super intriguing.
More words do not necessarily add more meaning; on the contrary, they can easily drown out the meaning. When a thought, sentence or paragraph is too long, it’s easy to get lost in it.
Concise Copywriting Keeps Your Reader’s Attention
Hundreds of studies have been done on our attention spans, and any marketer can look at their website analytics and see they are undoubtedly short. In fact, most people won’t read a piece of web content for more than 15 seconds. That’s all it takes for most people to decide that they know what your content is about and if it’s of interest to them.
Concise writing does your readers a favor. It helps them decide faster by getting them to the answer to the question they have in their head. It cuts out the information that keeps people from what they really want to know.
Plus, it’s a lower barrier to entry. Have you ever scanned an online article or the next chapter of a book and decided it was just too much commitment for that moment? Unless you’re writing for a medium that people are expecting to be long, you don’t want to put your readers in a position to turn away because they’re intimidated.
Concise Writing is Smarter Writing
Some people believe that more words, longer words and longer sentences make them sound smarter, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, smart writing is the ability to make complicated subjects more accessible.
In the same way, two sentences that say the same thing in two different ways can be redundant. And using countless adjectives can muddy your message, sound juvenile, or worse, come across super salesy. Leave that cringe at the door, and show your sophistication with fewer and more meaningful words.
Tips for Concise Copywriting
Want to work toward more succinct copywriting? Here are some ways you can audit your own writing for wordiness.
- Look for redundancy. Many people write the way they talk, and humans repeat themselves in conversation constantly. Look for areas where you may have written two sentences that make the same point. When you find these instances, delete the sentence that’s not as strong or consolidate into one sentence that utilizes the best of both.
- Remove unnecessary articles. Articles are words such as “the,” “that” and “a,” and they’re often overused in writing. For example, in a sentence that starts with “According to the research…” you can easily remove “the” and have a shorter phrase that means the same thing.
- Reduce adjectives. Adjectives are important for describing things, but too many of them can make a sentence long and diluted. Instead, pick the right adjective to describe your subject. By selecting the word that most accurately describes something, your description will be clearer and make more of an impact.
- Use active voice when possible. Active voice nearly always creates a shorter sentence. For example, passive voice would read, “The blog was written by the copywriter.” Active voice would read, “The copywriter wrote the blog.”
- Remove needless transitions. In writing, people often overuse transitions such as, “furthermore,” “in additon,” and “what’s more.” Transitions have their place, but you should carefully consider where they are necessary.
Writing shorter takes work, but once you start paying attention to unnecessary wordiness, it becomes easier to avoid. If you’re still struggling to find the words, our content team at PRIME can help. We’ll help you craft copy that packs a punch and speaks volumes of your brand.
If you enjoyed this edition of PRIME Pulse, take a look at some of our other related articles:
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