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Why Editing Makes Advertising Explosive

It really doesn’t help you to keep saying “No one loves their customers more than we do.”

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SHAKESPEARE WROTE, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” And it’s true: Most of what we remember of language are powerful, catchy phrases. Why, then, do so many business owners insist upon cramming as many words as possible into their marketing and advertising?

I mean, I get it: It’s a human impulse. We want people to really get what makes us different. We’re focused on ourselves. But the only thing potential customers care about is what you can do for them.

Years ago when I started out as a copywriter for an ad agency that served mostly jewelry retailers, my supervisor told me that a 60-second radio ad should have almost exactly 180 words. Less than that is okay, because it allows the announcer to pause or be more creative in his or her voiceover, but more words will make the ad sound rushed, and none of the words will stand out. If I had a nickel for every time I sent a script to an advertiser for approval and they sent it back to me with about 20-50 words added, I could have retired early. The types of things they wanted to add to the copy were:

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  • No one loves their customers more than we do.
  • We serve refreshments to every person who walks into our store.
  • We’re more educated than anyone else.
  • We’ve been in business longer than anyone else.
  • We personally select every piece of jewelry/diamond/watch that we sell.
  • We have a huge selection.

Sound familiar? Those things are all fine and good, but customers really don’t care about any of that — or they’ve heard it a million times and no longer believe it — and when you try to cram those things in, you’re watering down your message. What do customers actually care about?

  • Jewelry that fits their style/personality
  • Jewelry that fits their budget
  • The story they’ll be able to tell about their new jewelry
  • Impressing their spouse/friends/strangers with the jewelry
  • Looking beautiful in the jewelry
  • If it’s a gift, knocking the socks off of the jewelry recipient

These are the wants and needs of your clients. If you can speak to these things briefly and powerfully, you’ll see sales go up. If you want to talk about yourself, you might feel good about the ad, but it won’t help sales. Think about some of the great taglines of all time and why they’re so compelling:

  • Just do it.
  • A diamond is forever.
  • Tastes great. Less filling.
  • 15 minutes could save you 15 percent on car insurance.
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

You know each one of these companies or products as soon as you read these lines – and you know what they offer. And they each offer something powerful, something people want, in brief, concise fashion.

What are you saying about your business, and is it something your customers actually care about? How briefly and powerfully are you saying it?

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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