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September 18, 2010
Is Your Writing Bland?

Ever feel like your writing is boring?

Unfortunately, creativity isn’t always born once you’ve had your morning coffee and sit happily with your fingers resting on your keyboard. And although laughter ensued last night when you shared a round with your buddies after work, your favorite bar joke isn’t the best opener when writing advertising copy, website content, a press release, or your résumé.  

Still, all the factors that make you you contribute to the brand that you advertise, whether it is your company or yourself -- that’s why you are writing the task at hand and not Joe OtherGuy. How do you combine charisma with your copywriting goal of having the reader take the action that you desire?

Follow these three steps to spice up your writing.

1.) Introduce an emotional connection. After a recent product recall, Toyota launched an ad campaign about the safety of their cars. In a 30-second television ad, Toyota states the word “safety” seven times. Driving a car is a potentially dangerous experience, and Toyota wants consumers to associate their vehicles with safety (especially in light of the incident that could have damaged their reputation).  

Toyota recognizes that buyers are concerned about their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Therefore, it is Toyota’s job to make safety their top priority.  

In this case, a straightforward discussion on passenger safety appeals more to customers’ emotions (or fears) than highlighting aesthetic or superficial features of Toyota brand cars. The concept of engaging your audience’s emotions is simple. Why did the headline of this article interest you?

2.) Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Here are two “preventative” strategies to sharpen your writing skills before you produce your final document.

First, study and categorize advertising that you like and dislike. Use your favorite techniques in your writing. As an exercise, can you improve the campaigns that you loathe? You’ll discover ideas that may help with your own copywriting.

Second, Using colloquial phrases in rough drafts may be an effective way to develop and organize your ideas. However, you need a filter to recognize concepts that are not successfully translated from your mind into your document or digressions that may not be appropriate for your current project.  

Copy that you think is clever, poignant, or clear may not register with your readers if it is not crafted correctly. A proofreader acts as your own personal "American Idol" judging panel. Feedback will determine whether you get a standing ovation, or if the text was not your best performance, dawg.  

3.) Write without expectations. Express one position. You rarely need to oblige every point of view. The text that you write should have one specific purpose. It’s not about pleasing everyone. Don’t expect people to love or hate your writing because you’ll encounter both reactions. Make a genuine impact with your target audience.

Bravo television currently promotes a new spin-off reality series called “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” hosted by “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons. One of the television ads states, “You love ‘Top Chef.’ You adore Gail Simmons. Now they’re together for a brand new show that’s going to be sweet.”  

The ad speaks to “Top Chef” viewers who “adore” Gail Simmons and will watch a new show that she hosts because they are “fans.” The ad doesn’t state, “You may or may not like Gail Simmons from ‘Top Chef.’ And even if you hate her or ‘Top Chef,’ you still should watch this new reality series.” Bravo’s word choice is bold and direct.  

Your audience always will have opinions. When writing for an online publication or blog, understand that the “comments” section of your article allows the peanut gallery to weigh in on the topic. Let the conversation begin after you express your point. You will dilute your writing if you unnecessarily play devil’s advocate in order to cover everything.

Want to learn more simple techniques that will immediately improve your writing? Check out my new free report, "Business Proofreading Tips Other Proofreaders Don’t Want You to Know: 8 Essays About Crafting Flawless Documents."

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Stefanie Flaxman corrects business, marketing, and educational documents in 24 hours. She’s a writing consultant and the founder of Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services. Check out her free report and subscribe to Small Business Writing Consultant Blog to get free business writing advice. Don’t forget to say hello on Twitter!

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