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More words don't persuade more, they just get in the way

Five fast ways to punch up copy

1. Tighten it up.
Credit union marketers (or maybe it’s just marketers in general) have a particularly hard time knowing when to stop putting words on a page. More words don’t persuade more — they just get in the way of making your point. Edit ruthlessly.

2. Make it human.
There’s no need to crack wise in every sentence. But never be afraid to show some personality and have a real, live viewpoint. Leave the machine-generated corporate-speak to the banks. People trust people, not personas.

3. Start noticing words.
Literature classes ruined novels for way too many people.  So even if you’ll never be able to pick up Madame Bovary again, pay closer attention to the writing in the things you do read. Whether it was a comment on a blog, a magazine article, a great ad headline for garden shovels, a novel on your Kindle, or something you overheard in the grocery store, take notice of words that have an impact.

Then think carefully about where the words came from — the writer, the intended audience, the message, the surrounding cultural assumptions, what was said, what wasn’t said, etc. No, you don’t need to write a book report and there won’t be a test. But simply getting in the habit of thinking about these things is a great way to improve your own writing.

4. One point per piece, please.
This is a biggie. When marketing with a limited budget, it’s tempting to shovel several ideas into one piece — maybe you can double or triple your impact by combining the Visa promotion with the checking promotion, then stuffing in a membership referral promo, and hey, we can stick the weekly drawing in this corner…

The problem is that every new concept or product dilutes the original point and reduces effectiveness. Start with the one thing — just one — you want the reader to do or feel, and maintain focus on that. Eliminate everything else.

 5. Get professional help.
Credit union marketers have a strong do-it-yourself streak, but there are times it really helps to get an outside perspective, fresh ideas, and the benefit of wider experience. Whether you call iDiz Inc. or your local favorite, it’s well worth making a bit of room in your budget to hire a professional communicator on a regular basis.

Brian Wringer

Former watermelon farmer Brian Wringer wears several hats for iDiz Incorporated, including Web Projects Manager, Wordsmith, and Big Idea Guy. He builds better credit unions by day and weird old motorcycles by night.

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