Traitor: Ten Quick Fixes For Writing Better Everything

Traitor: Ten Quick Fixes For Writing Better Everything
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, OgilvyOne creative director Rob Morrison (pictured below) offers his top ten tips to turn your written words – be they tweet, email or brief – into poetic magic.

Have you ever found yourself having to re-read something because you’re not quite sure what the point was? Maybe it’s an internal staff memo. Or a web page you’ve been using for research. Or, heaven forbid, a tweet from the leader of the free world.

RobMorrsion

Copy is everywhere. It’s just a shame so much of it is like wading through treacle.

So how do you write what readers want to read? As someone who’s strung sentences together for a living for over 20 years I’ve got my own list of tips and tricks. Here’s my favourite ten.

  1. Use ‘You’ not ‘We’

This immediately stops copy from sounding ‘chest-beaty’. One of my copywriting heroes, Hershell Gordon-Lewis, claims you never need to use the word ‘We’. I don’t go that far but whenever possible you should twist benefits back to be more about the reader.

  1. Get your reader nodding

Say something your reader could never disagree with. ‘Seems like you never have enough hours in your day.’ Or ‘Doing more with less is the new mantra for business.’ Or, if you’ve got an existing relationship with them, remind them of that. Get them reading in your first few sentences and you might just keep them reading until the end.

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell a story

As the infamous Howard Luck Gossage used to say ‘People read what interests them and sometimes it’s advertising’. If you can engage your reader in a story it’s very powerful. Case studies. Anecdotes. Examples. Even hypotheticals your reader can relate to can make something which was dry seem interesting.

  1. Don’t slow your reader down with ‘there is’, ‘there are’ or ‘that’

The word ‘that’ is almost never needed. When you delete it from a sentence you’ll seldom notice it’s gone. Don’t believe me? Watch this.

– ‘The CEO confirmed that he was told that the contract was under threat.’

– ‘The CEO confirmed he was told the contract was under threat.’

Magically the sentence is 15 per cent shorter. And shorter is always better.

  1. Link your sentences and paragraphs.

This is why professional copywriters use phrases like ‘Which is why’ ‘Importantly’ ‘Plus’ and ‘Best of all’. It means your copy will flow from top to bottom – making it like a wiggly line down the page. So when you’ve got someone reading they’re more likely to keep reading.

  1. When you make a claim, prove it.

If you say your product is the best, fastest, most successful then have some independent stats, some analysis figures, something to prove it. If you say your meeting will be ‘the best 30mins you’ll spend this year’ tell your reader why. Without proof it’s easy to assume you’re exaggerating. Which makes whatever you’ve written easy to dismiss.

  1. Mix up your paragraph lengths.

This is particularly if you have a lot to convey – in an email or on a webpage or in a white paper. Changing your paragraph length means if your reader gets distracted and looks away they can easily find their place again.

  1. Replace verbose words with simple words

What does that mean? Try using:

– ‘know’ instead of ‘understand’

– ‘swap’ instead of ‘exchange’

– ‘use’ instead of ‘utilise’

– ‘or’ instead of ‘alternatively’.

Simpler is always easier to read.

  1. Edit, edit, edit!

If you can make your copy shorter, without losing meaning or tone, do. (See how short that was).

  1. Finally, read it out loud.

To write in a conversational tone means it should sound good in conversation. And the best way to judge that is to read it like it’s in conversation. Just make sure you avoid the confused faces of workmates who think you’ve started talking to yourself. 

That’s it.

Pretty simple right? But you’d be amazed at how often I read communication that misses these simple rules. Oh, and just for the record, I’m probably going to be thrown out of the copywriters union for having done this.

(Actually, who am I kidding? Do you think we’d have a union and still be working these hours? Sheesh.)

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Freeview Recognised At International HbbTV Awards
  • Marketing
  • Media

Freeview Recognised At International HbbTV Awards

Freeview Australia has been awarded Best Marketing or Promotion of an HbbTV Based Service at the inaugural HbbTV Awards, announced last week in Rome. Run by the HbbTV Association, the global awards attracted 71 entries from 17 countries and recognise the best adoption of HbbTV (hybrid broadcast broadband TV), technical excellence and commercial advantage. Freeview […]

D’Marge Partners With Virgin For New Edition Of ‘Shut Up & Take My Money’ Mag
  • Media

D’Marge Partners With Virgin For New Edition Of ‘Shut Up & Take My Money’ Mag

After its debut attempt at print, Aussie publisher D’Marge has rolled the dice again on its first ever print product. Shut Up & Take My Money flagrantly celebrates materialism and the good life, with the new edition seeing the magazine’s editorial team travel to Apple’s futuristic new headquarters in Cupertino, California for the launch of the iPhone […]

New Conference To Reveal Purchasing Power Of Aussie Mums
  • Marketing

New Conference To Reveal Purchasing Power Of Aussie Mums

Australian mums are a powerful, highly educated, cashed-up and discerning group that are using the power of the internet and social media to make – or break – brands. Mums don’t just buy a brand because of its price or availability – they use the power of online reviews, their knowledge about brand’s ethical behaviour […]

How The AFL Won The Social Media Grand Final (But The NRL Scored With Macklemore)
  • Marketing
  • Media

How The AFL Won The Social Media Grand Final (But The NRL Scored With Macklemore)

As AFL’s Richmond Tigers and NRL’s Melbourne Storm bask in the glory of their Premiership victories, another war was waging across social media. Sports social content platform 20FOUR today revealed the winner in the battle of the footy codes, declaring the AFL victorious over the NRL in audience engagement during this year’s grand final. Just over 3.5 million people tuned in to watch the […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Female Industry Leaders To Help Launch Unique Walking Tribe In Melbourne
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Female Industry Leaders To Help Launch Unique Walking Tribe In Melbourne

After successfully launching in Sydney and Brisbane in the past year, Mentor Walks has announced it is expanding to Melbourne with the help of some female industry leaders. How Mentor Walks works is through a small group of senior female executive leaders who agree that, when they are available, will be part of a monthly […]

The Core Agency Wins Key Pharmaceuticals Creative Account
  • Advertising

The Core Agency Wins Key Pharmaceuticals Creative Account

Key Pharmaceuticals has announced it has selected The Core Agency to manage strategy and creative duties for its stable of brands, following a competitive creative pitch. The Sydney independent agency will become the lead agency for all Key Pharmaceuticals brands across Australia and New Zealand, which include Blistex and Hamilton. A spokesperson for Key Pharmaceuticals […]

App Annie Announces New Managing Director For APAC
  • Technology

App Annie Announces New Managing Director For APAC

App market data and analytics company App Annie has announced the appointment of Cindy Deng as its new managing director for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Deng joins App Annie with more than 18 years’ experience in enterprise IT, digital advertising, data analytics, and data management. In her most recent role at Turn, she was responsible […]

New Editor For GQ Australia
  • Media

New Editor For GQ Australia

Unfortunately, it's no more Lowes or Roger David for Michael Christensen after being named fashion organ's top tamale.

QMS Goes West With ‘The Leeder’
  • Advertising
  • Media

QMS Goes West With ‘The Leeder’

QMS Media continues to expand its digital portfolio across Western Australia, switching on an iconic billboard in the heart of Perth. Following the launch of two new digital billboards in the major WA regional centres of Bunbury and Kalgoorlie in recent months, ‘The Leeder’ further delivers on QMS’ digital expansion strategy out west. Positioned at […]

PR Firm Text100 Wins NetApp Account For APAC
  • Marketing

PR Firm Text100 Wins NetApp Account For APAC

Global marketing communications agency Text100 has announced it been appointed by data management company NetApp to drive its brand transformation effort across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Following local competitive pitches conducted across the region, Text100 has been appointed as the APAC lead agency out of Singapore, and as the local agency of record in Australia, […]

MFA Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

MFA Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!

B&T once again donned the tux, applied the Brut, and primed the liver for last night's MFA Awards in Sydney.

Concrete Playground Launches Voice-activated Nightlife Guide With Google Assistant
  • Media
  • Technology

Concrete Playground Launches Voice-activated Nightlife Guide With Google Assistant

Digital publisher Concrete Playground has unveiled a new app that helps Millennials plan their night out using voice control – the first of its kind to become available in Australia. Concrete Playground’s Guide to Tonight now works with Google Assistant, making it available on a range of Google devices and helping people to decide what […]

Digital Agency Inlight Secures Two Key Client Wins
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Digital Agency Inlight Secures Two Key Client Wins

Independent agency Inlight has announced it has won the digital account for Benetas, a not-for-profit aged care provider in Victoria. Following a competitive pitch process, Inlight was chosen to handle Benetas’ new website design, build and ongoing optimisation. Richard Barker, marketing manager at Benetas, said: “We wanted an agency that could be our true digital […]

AMI Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!
  • Marketing

AMI Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!

With almost 30 awards handed out, B&T predicts plenty of numb bottoms at last night's AMI Awards in Melbourne.

Clems Sydney CEO Andy Pontin Quits
  • Advertising

Clems Sydney CEO Andy Pontin Quits

Sure, B&T flashed the news of Andy Pontin quitting this morning. White lies aside, he's actually still got six months.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Adobe MAXes Most Creatives In A Room Record
  • Advertising
  • Media

Adobe MAXes Most Creatives In A Room Record

B&T's journo is reporting live from the annual Adobe Summit in Vegas. Although, "reporting" is somewhat of a stretch.

Opinion

by David Hovenden

David Hovenden
Digital Women’s Network & The Australian College Of Marketing Unveil Latest Short Courses
  • Marketing

Digital Women’s Network & The Australian College Of Marketing Unveil Latest Short Courses

The Australian College of Marketing is collaborating with the Digital Women’s Network to bring new short courses aimed to provide the latest skills across all aspects of the Digital landscape, kicking off in Melbourne and Sydney in 2018. Course content will focus around various topics related to the digital marketing landscape. All courses will run […]

Man working at office desk, looking at computer and scratching head
  • Technology

Where Are Digital & Tech Skills & Salaries Headed?

The rapid pace of technological change in the digital sector is seeing demand for those with the right skill sets outstrip availability, both locally and globally. The individuals who have kept their skills up to date are being well-rewarded financially. Now, Digital + Technology Collective’s expanded annual Skills and Salary Survey will put some numbers and context […]

Disney & ESPN Unify Sales & Partnerships Teams
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Disney & ESPN Unify Sales & Partnerships Teams

Disney and ESPN have formed an even closer bond, announcing a new alignment of the two properties through their media sales and partnerships teams. Instead of entering through three doors, Disney ESPN Media Sales & Partnerships will give media buyers and marketers a refined, singular point of entry for Disney, ESPN Digital and Maker. Nik […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Sydney Start-up Muzaara Partners With Commission Factory To Turbocharge Digital Ad Spends
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Sydney Start-up Muzaara Partners With Commission Factory To Turbocharge Digital Ad Spends

Sydney-based adtech start-up Muzaara has announced a new strategic partnership with performance marketing platform Commission Factory. Together, Muzaara and Commision Factory are providing SMEs with a secret weapon to skyrocket their online brand visibility and effectively manage and maximise their online advertising campaigns. This partnership will allow both online marketing companies and their impressive roster […]