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11 tips to make your marketing materials sizzle

Do you produce your marketing materials in-house? If so, chances are you’re getting into some poor writing habits. And I suspect you’re repeatedly rehashing old content – expecting your efforts to be good enough.

Here are 11 hot tips to help give your sales brochures, flyers and advertisements a much-needed face-lift.

1. Perception is reality

The quality of your writing reflects the quality of your products and services. And the way you communicate represents the way you do business.

When you use simple words and short, clear sentences, your readers will know that doing business with you is easy too.

And don’t fool yourself: sloppy grammar and spelling are NOT okay. It could be costing you a lot more than you think.

2. It’s all about the headline

‘Eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two will read the rest.’

If you agree with this widely-held belief, it should be obvious why you need to sweat your headlines. Write and rewrite. Then rewrite again.

If you’ve got four hours to write an ad or brochure, spend around three of them on the headline.

3. Get to the point. Quickly.

People want shortcuts. And the most convenient shortcut for them is to simply throw your offer in the rubbish bin.

Make sure that your customers can discern in 10 seconds what your writing is about, what they need to do next, when they need to do it – and how they can contact you.

4. Less is more

We’ve heard this a thousand times. And although we know it to be true, too many of us still write TOO MUCH!

Review your drafts and ask, ‘Is there anything I can delete without eliminating vital information?’ I suspect you can.

If you have to make the type smaller in order to fit the space, EDIT.

Work on the assumption that every unnecessary word will personally cost you $10.

5. Be specific

Vague adjectives and adverbs like ‘best’ or ‘easiest’ sound insincere. Only use them if you can prove why you’re the best.

Vague:           We provide the quickest design service in town
Specific:        Get your brochures designed in 48 hours or receive a 25% discount

6. Use the word YOU

People tend to dismiss content that seems as if it’s addressed to a crowd.

That’s why you should use the word ‘you’ more often. It gives the impression that you and your reader are engaging in a one-on-one conversation – and that will help you gain trust and keep your reader interested.

According to some copywriters, you should use ‘you’ three times for every one time you use a word like ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘our’.

7.  Use an informal tone

Purge the formalities you were taught at school and uni.

Phrases like ‘nevertheless’, ‘notwithstanding the fact that’ and ‘at your earliest convenience’ make you sound arrogant.

Instead, write more like how you talk – casually and informally.

Writing can be informal and professional at the same time, so don’t be afraid that you are ‘dumbing it down’. You’re simply making it easier for busy people to understand your message.

8.  Offer social proof

Incorporate proof elements such as statistics, success stories, referenced testimonials and tangible guarantees wherever possible.

9. Express empathy

Content that shows you understand your readers’ feelings and desires will help you develop rapport with them.

And one of the easiest ways to show empathy in your marketing piece is by telling a story your prospects can relate to.

Other options include admitting a weakness – or targeting a common enemy.

10. Remember the power in a number

Use numbers in copy when you can, especially in headlines and sub-headlines.

  • 5 Reasons Why You Are Being Paid Too Little
  • 7 Ways to Ask for a Pay Rise

Use odd numbers in a long list. For example, ’17 ways to tell if your boss has a low IQ’. With rounded numbers people assume you’ve padded the list to get the right number.

11. Don’t neglect design

A chaos of fonts, colours, and pictures can confuse a clear message. Just as you have worked hard to achieve a simple message, strive for a simple design.

Also consider the age of your audience in choosing font size. Use larger type size for the older sectors and not smaller than 12pt for anything that carries your call to action.