BREVITY or VERBOSITY


by Dean Del Sesto

IN THE WRITING TENSION BETWEEN BREVITY AND VERBOSITY,
THE LESSER ALWAYS WINS.

 

WRITING FOR MARKETING: THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT.

When was the last time you read a website end-to-end? How about a brochure from start to finish? A direct mail or email piece all the way through? I thought so. With media saturation at an all-time high, chances of being read are reduced greatly. According to the Direct Marketing Association and other known authorities, people in the business world are reading less, scanning more and looking for key messages so they can tune their knowledge intake to be more efficient. Unfortunately, most marketing copy is written in a verbose style with headlines that don’t command attention and subheads that reinforce the boring headlines. Buried in the text, which the reader rarely gets to, are the value propositions, (if there at all.)

Yet, in today’s media-saturated world, the art of verbosity seems to be alive and well, and the concept of brevity seems to be a lost art relegated only to those few who are committed to giving their audience the gift of focused and effective communications.

So just what does brevity mean in the realm of marketing?

How you communicate is a direct reflection of your brand

It’s no secret that it’s notably more difficult to write something with brevity than it is to bang away at the keys until the story is told. It actually takes longer to create a marketing message with fewer words, but it’s worth the effort. When people read a marketing piece that gets to the point, the perception the reader gains from the marketer is intelligent, focused, concise, articulate and wise. In contrast, when a reader opens a marketing piece filled with copy stuffed from head to toe, with no order or strategy, then stress, frustration, confusion and discouragement occur. As if we need more of that these days.

Being that a company’s brand is the emotional connection one has with that company, there is an inherent responsibility for the brand to pay close attention to how they communicate at every touch- point. I happen to believe that one of the indicators of how much a company actually cares for its audience manifests in how well they communicate with them. It’s the “we know you’re busy, so here’s the bottom-line,” approach. Companies that employ the discipline of brevity and clarity in their communication to their prospects, clients, investors, employees, the media and more stand out from the verbose. If companies today understood that marketing is primarily designed to provoke, persuade and direct, not necessarily to educate or close the deal, we’d have a lot less verbiage floating around in the “ad”mosphere, and people would be prone to read material more often.

brev·i·ty ˈbrɛv ɪ ti – [brev-i-tee] noun. Webster proper: 1. The quality of expressing much in few words. Brevity – author redefined. 1. The principal of marketing smarter, not harder, and stronger, not longer. 2. Velocity, not verbosity. The difference between communicating and aggravating. 3. A clear indicator of excellence, intelligence and competence. 4. What people want, appreciate and respond to. 5. The only truly effective way to communicate these days.

The formula for Breviti: It starts with discipline and focus.

The formula for great marketing communication is to realize the discipline of brevity will force better thinking out of you, and or the marketing team and accepting the challenge of condensing every message will improve results. Next, focus your messaging on the most relevant, compelling and true value propositions for your company, product or service. This is the platform you will communicate from and it is ultimately the position you want to own in the mind of your market.

In any marketing communication, your main messages should be communicated clearly in the headlines, subheads, call-out quotes or phrases. Again, people scan. If they pick up value by reading the big, they’ll get to the details. If the big doesn’t grab them, they’re gone…. in some cases forever. Use photography, charts and graphs whenever they can reinforce or replace the message. It’s been proven that people zero in on visuals first, and done right, a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. The goal of the entire piece, whether ad, email, direct mail, brochure, website or social channel pieces should be to communicate the real value in just the headlines, subheads and supporting visuals. If the message is heard there, your chances of them digging into the message are multiplied, or they’ll be interested enough email you or pick up the phone and call you.

It’s not always bad to write long copy, assuming the right project and a predictable audience

There are defined marketing objectives where a comprehensive approach to copy is welcomed and that approach is to inform or educate. In marketing situations where no person is availed to explain the details, be comprehensive. Or if you have an audience that has a strong affinity to the topic, cut loose a bit. But keep in mind; this is still no excuse to write without any sensitivity, knowing that the recipient has a life that would well be served if you convey the message more succinctly. Tools such as white papers, blogs (like this), and advertorials are the few pieces that allow for more detail – relevant, provocative and factual detail.

So in concept, if you can YELL to the person who doesn’t see the bus coming to “STOP,” in contrast to “Excuse me sir, do you have a moment? I’d like to take this opportunity to notify you that there’s a…” … BAM!!!, you’ll be supporting the revolution of brevity. And by minimizing the quantity of words you use when marketing your company, products and services, you’ll notice improved receptivity from everyone who comes in contact with your brand and an increase in marketing performance at all levels.

 

BREVITY or VERBOSITY Breck photos of Dean 027 copy 295x300
Dean Del Sesto is a Principal at Breviti.com, a business branding agency and is CDO at VeracityColab.com, a video production agency – both in SoCal. He is also author of Shift Your Thinking – 200 Ways to Improve Your Life, and blogs at deandelsesto.com