Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marketers: Are You A Better Writers than a 7th Grader?

How much is too much when it comes to trying to get someone's attention while marketing a product or service? I've been reading a series of blog posts by different authors and I found some perfect examples of trying to hype products and services that didn't need all the hype. And of course it was done with way too many adjectives.

Folks when you use big adjectives to describe BIG things, you sound like my 7th grade daughter when she doesn't feel like doing the work and makes stuff up. It's the I really, really, really liked this book affect. From the first sentence, the teacher knows she didn't read the book because she's trying to make it sound very, very important.

Then my 7th grader comes up with a couple of half thought out points and says them in as many different ways as she can think of, so it sounds impressive. And of course, by the time I'm done reading - and you give your audience more credit than it deserves if you think it's going to finish reading - they don't believe a word you said.

We live in the world of the Internet - superlatives aren't needed and when you're reading them on a screen sometimes they sound even more ridiculous than when they were on paper. I often come away thinking your product sucks because you're working so hard to make me believe it doesn't.

When it comes to marketing copy, just tell me a story and why I should take whatever action you want me to take, or even just care. Bullet items and use a header that will capture my attention. Concise, well written prose is better every time.

So are 7th graders better writers than most marketers? Probably not - but just to make my point here are some some of the most egregious phrases I have seen lately.

1. Creative entrepreneur - By definition an entrepreneur is a creative.Entrepreneur gets your point across just fine.

2. Legendary engineer - OK there could be a secondary point in there but an engineer can't be legendary unless you tell me why - and the writer didn't  I'm willing to bet that this one isn't legendary because you feel the need to tell me that he or she is.

3. Real-life neurologist - Really? Is there such a thing as a ghost neurologist? Or a fake one? Or to quote the Wizard of Oz's Dorothy not a neurologist at all? Gives you pause doesn't it?

4. World renowned experts - I love this one. It's not good enough to just be an expert which is really all you need, you have to be renowned (as in recognized as an expert by other experts?) and the whole wide world has to know that you are. Wow.

5. Impressive, world class products - Isn't world class enough? If it's world class shouldn't we already be impressed? And if we're not impressed why are you telling me I should be?

6. Hands-on, interactive - I see this term used all the time in educational materials and I don't get it. It's saying the exact same thing twice. If I'm putting my hands on it by definition it's interactive. If it's not interactive I'm not involved in it - right?


Monday, April 9, 2012

E-Books Take Off But Don't Bring in New Readers

A study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, doesn't offer much hope for the future of print. Turns out e-reading is getting more and more popular especially with those over 50 (due in part to the fact that you can adjust the type to any size you want). Yet digital books are not bringing in new readers - they're taking business away from the book printers. Not a great bell weather for the future of print.

Here's some information from the study. Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 
  • 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books.
  • They read more books. 
  • They read more frequently for pleasure, research, current events, and for work or school. They buy books rather than borrow them.
  • They are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general, often starting their search online.
The demographics echo what we hear about avid readers as well. They are better educated, more affluent and more likely to love reading.

So what does all of this tell marketers? As we move more into digital in many phases of our lives, we have to for now, think in two worlds. Will print ever die? Hopefully not in my life time.