I received a campaign pitch from Marjorie Somebody during the holidays. She's running for Congress in a district other than my own.
[Illustration 1 in the media player at right] is what arrived in my inbox.
Rules Broken by Marjorie Somebody
- "Avoid gray walls of type." —David Ogilvy
- Marjorie Somebody is poaching for cash in my representative's territory.
- Marjorie Somebody did not say which political party she belongs to.
- Marjorie Somebody did not reveal her last name.
A contribution by Scott Huch to my new book, "Write Everything Right!" (Opens as a PDF.)
As an aspiring, young direct mail copywriter in the early 1990s, I clipped an item from my local newspaper. It has been taped to my desk—right next to my computer—ever since. It is now tattered and yellow. But I keep it there as a reminder any time I'm writing. It says:
Tests have shown that a sentence of eight words is very easy to read; of 11 words, easy; of 14 words, fairly easy; of 17 words, standard; of 21 words, fairly difficult; of 25 words, difficult; of 29 or more words, very difficult; so this sentence with 54 words, counting numbers, is ranked impossible.
[Illustration 2 in the media player at right] is the text of Marjorie Somebody's message with word counts.
More rules Broken by Marjorie Somebody
- Two sentences of 62 words each.
- One sentence of 41 words.
- One sentence of 39 words
- One sentence of 33 words
- Marjorie Somebody's campaign pitch is ranked impossible to read.
Denny Hatch is a copywriter, designer and direct marketing consultant. Click on the title below to read the first three chapters of his recent book "Write Everything Right!" No cost. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.