Thank you for tuning in to Part 3 of this series on how to write advertising copy without sounding like the kind of salesperson you normally try to avoid.
Slay the Jargon. Kill the Buzz.
Corporate jargon and business buzz words are especially tempting to include in sales copy.
Partly because these kinds of words legitimately describe concepts related to what we’re selling. And partly because we’re used to being on the receiving end of jargon-laden copy.
There’s also a tendency, whether conscious or not, to assume that using these words make us sound credible and trendy.
Examples of Corporate or Industry Jargon (some of which I use on the regular) : incentivize, productize, synergize, end user, workflow, user-centered, iterative, brand advocate, convert, sales funnel
Examples of Business Buzz Words (some of which I use on the regular) : actionable, authentic, solopreneur, hustle, rise and grind, lean in, tribe, on fire, guru, ninja, badass, juicy
These words are not meaningless. Quite the contrary, they describe very specific things. And are appropriate (if even still annoying) in a blog post or a book. But not so much in ad copy.
Why? Because most people are already on the defense when propositioned to part with their time or money for the thing that may or may not improve their lives.
So trying to influence them with words that sound like a boardroom invention (even the Silicon Valley free-snacks-and-foosball kind) probably isn’t an effective method for gaining their trust and making them like you.
But Sometimes You Have to Admit Defeat
In reality, we can’t always escape jargon and buzz words. Sometimes they stick and become part of our vernacular.
I initially found words like content and branding to be absolutely abhorrent and soulless excuses for nouns. But now I use them all the time. They describe a thing in a way no other word does at the moment. And so into the vocabulary they go.
Once in awhile one of these words might actually resonate with you. As, for instance, badass does with me. If that is the case, use it. Because you’re not faking it at that point, you’re owning it. And that’s #authenticAF.
Try this: If you must use some jargon when addressing a lay audience, consider defining it on first mention.
Also, if you can’t help but use a trendy buzz word in your sales copy because it is so perfect for your brand, then use it. But like the exclamation restraint equation, try to keep it to one buzz per 300 words.
Just Say What You Mean To Say
There’s no need to get fancy or try to impress anyone with your sparkling intelligence and wit. (Trying to impress rarely works anyway, am I right?)
Sometimes writing about your product or service in the simplest, most basic of terms first will take you in a better direction than straining to win some sort of award with your verbal brilliance. Which usually ends up sounding void of any actual meaning. Or it’s just obvious that you’re trying too hard.
Once you’re in the mode of explaining things in basic terms, if there IS any brilliance to be had, it’ll come when you’re not forcing it. And if no wild wordsmithing inspiration comes to you, no problem. You’ve described your offering in a straightforward and honest manner. That’s the most important thing.
I’ve read brand positioning statements that sound super fancy but don’t actually mean anything. Here’s one from an otherwise kickass agency who could use a copywriter as talented as their designer-coders:
“We create brand identity using new, user-directed, non-linear ways. We build value and genuine advocacy through digital storytelling and meaningful interactions.”
A more lucid way to say the same thing might be:
“We create brand identities using an intuitive, people-first approach. We help brands build loyal and enthusiastic fanbases by facilitating meaningful interactions and telling stories in fun, new digital ways.”
Real meaning is more important than verbal gloss. Always.
Try this: When you’re stuck or feel like you’re writing a bunch of silly fluff, ask yourself: “Self? What are we actually trying to say here? How would we explain this in an email to our best friend?”
What follows will likely come out sloppy at first. But sloppy can be tidied. And it’s way better than not saying much of anything at all.
Or stretching the truth. Which leads us to…
Our next, and final (for now) installment in the How to Write Advertising Copy Without Losing Your Soul series.
Have something to add? By all means, say what you gotta say in the comments below!