|Why Would Anybody Read This?
By: Jerry Northup
I ask myself that question each time I work out a new topic for this blog — a series of articles intended to provide relatable perspectives on all forms of B2B and B2C writing to the talented people who do the work and everyone else that reads it. That’s a pretty big target audience because, the way I see it, that audience basically includes EVERYBODY. To many, the ability to write well is becoming a lost art. I’d submit the larger problem is the lost art of reading.
People who don’t read don’t miss it. Despite the fact that a large portion of website copy is really just a repurposed template of “About Us,” “What We Do,” and “Who We Are” placeholders, the need for really great copy is greater now than ever before. The tech people got us into this mess, but they can’t get us out. There is no coding formula or software algorithm for words that are compelling, informative, and persuasive; nor will there ever be one.
George Carlin was brilliant at exposing these extravagancies in rhetoric. Today, he might be thought of as a cross-functional, multi-departmental, solutions innovator working as an esteemed artisan or master linguist in semiotics. In other words, he was a clever and talented comedian.
- Why should “I” care? Most copy doesn’t measure up to this standard. Yet, I think it is an important question to ask yourself. The written word should impart meaning in ways that are understandable to many, even if the audience is few. If you don’t keep that in mind, those who really do need to apply the concepts you are writing about may miss the point entirely.
- The department of redundancy department. Marketing copy is often so choked full of repetition that much of it is unreadable. You might even think that it’s written by computer. Unfortunately, it’s not. An actual human has to sign off, which underscores my earlier point about reading being a lost art. Let’s be more gracious: let’s call it an “underutilized skill.”
- And now that I bring it up. Just what is an “underutilized skill?” And why do so many try so hard to conceive purposely complex words that generate artificial importance to postulate about mundane superficialities and temporal exercises? Or, in other words, ideas?
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Gerald Northup has written professionally in the fields of advertising, marketing, social media, and corporate communications since the early ’90s. For a look at his blog posts and social media articles, as well as TV, radio, print, and website samples from his online portfolio, visit gnorthup1979.wix.com/44words.
Jerry is also a talented guitarist, an avid tennis player, and a lifelong student of linguistics.
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