Message & Media: Conversation Killers
These two sentences demonstrate why you should never allow an attorney to write your copy.
TIP: Involve your reader in processing your content more quickly and easily with sentences that vary in length (maximum one and a half lines). Keep paragraphs to six lines or less by breaking longer paragraphs into two. For maximum readability/scannability, keep 75 percent to 80 percent of your words to five characters or less.
The Slow Startup
With only a split second to grab your reader's attention in any medium, don't bury the point of your message with a slow startup like this letter opener from a health care provider:
I think you'll agree that every one of us needs and deserves access to high-quality healthcare—care that we can count on every day, no matter what.
Yawn. Phrases such as, "I think you'll agree," "I don't need to tell you," "I'll admit that" are conversation-killing wasters of your reader's precious time. What's the point of your e-mail, letter or landing page? Hook your reader's interest by getting to your point or major benefit quickly. You can always elaborate later.
TIP: Look for your most powerful opening sentence, headline or subject line buried in a second, third, even fourth paragraph; then move it to the forefront. In the case of the letter above, the point of the letter was buried at the bottom of the page, "Today, Annie O'Brien is a cancer survivor. Why, you wonder? It's because …"
Think Before You Speak
If you want to build credibility, only make promises you can keep. The following is from a retailer's mailing, but the lesson applies to all marketers.
Outer envelope teaser: Surprises await you
Inside teaser promise on front panel: You've asked for it—here it is!
Inside benefit statement: Now you can use your saving passes* on top of all sale & clearance apparel prices (except specials and super buys)—even designers.