Copywriting Tips: KISS Your Prospects and Customers

Want to know how to write compelling copy that’s easy for your prospects and customers to read?

Copywriting tip: Kiss your customersKISS them! While some people equate this acronym with “Keep it simple stupid,” I prefer to use “KEEP IT SIMPLE SWEETHEART!”

Clarity is extremely important in writing marketing content – be it a brochure, blog, direct mail piece or Web site. You want to create a conversation between you and your audience, but how to you do that when you’re not face-to-face?

The difference between conversation and writing is that during a conversation we give the other person time to understand what we’ve said. We pause between sentences, repeat ourselves and space our ideas apart.

The secret of writing is to leave space – create these pauses. In The Art of Plain Talk by Rudolf Flesch, he outlined these 7 helpful steps:

1. Use short, simple sentences to start out with
– average sentence length in words:

8 words or less is considered very easy
11 words – easy
14 words – fairly easy
17 ” – standard (AVERAGE READER)
21 ” – fairly difficult
25 ” – difficult
29+ ” – very difficult

As Herschell Gordon Lewis said in The Art of Writing Copy, “Clarity has to come first, no matter what you’re writing or to whom.”

2. Two short sentences are easier to read than one long one.
In direct marketing the rules of grammar may not always apply. (i.e. Sometimes one word sentences. Break long sentences into shorter ones.)

Keep Herschell Gordon Lewis’ advice to copywriters in mind, “Copywriters are communicators, not grammarians. What matters isn’t your knowledge of which tense is which; it’s your knowledge of how to transform the lead of drab fact into the gold of lustrous attraction.”

2a. One piece of advice I often give when reviewing content, is to use bullet points. When there’s a lengthy paragraph, rather than make your audience plow through that, break it up into easy to read bullet points. Make the content inviting to the readers eyes!

3. BE PERSONAL. USE “YOU.” You’re writing to a reader – one that’s a current customer or prospect – so talk to that reader. Avoid mentioning “the client” or “the customer.” Let your prospect know you’re talking directly to him or her, one-on-one. Use the word “you.”

The readers come first – start writing to people (not at them). Incorporate a friendly, conversational tone as if your reader were sitting right there – across the table from you.

In his book, Direct mail copy that sells!, Herschell Gordon Lewis explained, “When you write a letter that says, ‘Only you. . .’, you’ve told the recipient that to you he isn’t a unit, an anonymous number in a computer, a faceless organism with a zip code. . . You also project an attitude of friendliness.”

4. Whenever possible, talk about people
– tests show that we enjoy, and are better readers when, reading about other people more than about anything else. Sentences can be written so that the logical subject is a person. Use personal pronouns (theirs, yours, you) or human interest words (woman, man, child, boy).

5. Use active verb forms that have life in them
(i.e. dance, sing, add, run, etc.). These words make your sentences ‘move.’ Here are some examples from author Patricia Williams (Creating and Producing the Perfect Newsletter):

Passive: The lobby was the site of a rally led by Tiger boosters Tuesday.
Active: Tiger boosters led a rally in the lobby Tuesday.

Passive: The basement was flooded with water.
Active: Water flooded the basement.

6. Punctuation makes reading easier
– it gets pauses down on paper and stresses important points. Use hyphens, dashes, and ellipses to achieve this effect.

7. “Give the reader helpful advice, or service,” said ad man David Ogilvy. “It hooks about 75% more readers than copy which deals entirely with the product.”

So, are you KISSing your readers? Have any tips you find helpful in keeping it simple sweetheart? Please share your comments below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks a million and here’s to your sweet success.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.

Comments

  1. Patty Hardee says:

    I write about technology, but instead of talking about the widget, I try to find the human impact. Instead of, “This device uses the XYZ interface to connect to other devices” “The device helped FEMA deliver ice to victims in one hour rather than in 48.”

    • Yes Patty, you have absolutely the right idea! Appeal to human emotions. It seems engineers like to know that “techie stuff” about interfaces, but most people want to know “what’s in it for me?” Keep up the good work. And, have a great day. Thanks 🙂

  2. Simplicity is right, and the human angle is SO important! I write about technology too (among other things) but I try to make it people-oriented. Geeks can always read other geeks, but if you want people who use the stuff but are not geeks, you gotta tell it like it is, in plain English. Ditto for every other subject.

    Great article, Debra, thanks! 🙂
    Teresa Meek recently posted…Writing PortfolioMy Profile

    • Hi @Teresa, how are you? Hope all is going well your way.

      I steer away from technical writing, but I bet it would be more fun & more inviting to read if it was people-oriented. And I know when I read something technical, I often wish it was written in language I could understand more easily than techno-speak.

      Plain English sounds good to me. Thanks for stopping by, reading this post & sharing your perspective. Much appreciated. ~Debra

  3. I shared this on LinkedIn. All of these suggestions would work for general blogging, too. I write hundreds of business emails a week and I see areas where I need to improve.
    Alana ( recently posted…Civil War Sunday – Today’s Snapshot of the Civil WarMy Profile

    • Hi @Alana, yes the KISS process works for just about every marketing channel – from blogging and brochures to e-mail messages and web sites.
      Thanks for sharing it with your peeps on LinkedIn and wherever else you might choose. Here’s to your writing success. Best.
      ~Debra

  4. Great info! Thanks for the KISS!

  5. These are 7 awesome tips, and I love how you changed up the acronym from “Keep it simple stupid,” to “KEEP IT SIMPLE SWEETHEART!”
    Eleanor recently posted…Day 11 of The 17 Day DietMy Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] are you? When you’re writing copy, keep it simple and speak from your […]

  2. […] K.I.S.S. them. That’s “keep it simple sweetheart.” Clarity is important. Don’t use overly complex […]

  3. […] KISS your prospects (keep it simple sweetheart).Write as if your prospect is sitting across the table from you and you’re having a conversation. When you have a conversation you pause, create those pauses in your writing with punctuation. Use short simple sentences, Be personal, use the word “YOU” (meaning your prospect/customer vs. “WE”). […]

  4. […] KISS your prospects (keep it simple sweetheart).Write as if your prospect is sitting across the table from you and […]

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