The Lost Art of Simplicity

I recently went to a fantastic evening organised by Elle magazine, and during it one of the speakers, literary agent Abigail Bergstrom, stated clearly that she believed non-fiction writing was moving clearly in one direction – propelled by a confusing, post-Brexit and Trumpgate – and amidst a swirling inferno of technology that may or may not be just about doing more harm than good, we as humanity are looking for a little bit of calm. So books like the bestselling The Art of Simplicity by Candy Paull are set to become even more commonplace. In a world that never stops offering and demanding more and more, internally we are searching for a little bit less, a little bit of quiet.

And, it struck me, that this trend is not only true in bestselling non-fiction, but also in my world – that of effective copywriting. Because, in copywriting less is always more….and yes I do mean always. It is even why, the much maligned listicles do so ruddy well – because no-one wants to read a stream of consciousness on “Things you missed from…..insert iconic 90s sitcom here….”

No, in copy, as in life in general we want some calm. So make sure to:

  1. Avoid meaningless phrases

I cannot count the number of websites that use inordinately large words to create phrases that whilst offering a delightful timbre or tantalising sibilance mean absolutely nothing. “At Parker’s Law our team provide a world class service for our clients; leaders in the industry we work hard for you…” Firstly, “world class?” – really? And secondly – a fact wouldn’t go amiss. “At Parker’s Law our team have 30 years’ experience in helping our clients…” The latter, I think you will agree, carries slightly more weight than the former. Make sure to read through each sentence and ask yourself – what does this actually mean?

  1. Avoid using big words when small words will do

If I have to read the word ‘optimise/optimize,’ ‘utilise/utilize,’ or “’facilitate’ and ‘enable,’ well I probably won’t do anything too dramatic, but I will certainly stare at my screen whilst shaking my head in dismay. Using words like ‘utilise’ (it’s with an ‘s’ in the UK) when ‘use’ will do or ‘facilitate’ when you could use ‘helps’ doesn’t make you sound smarter, just that you are trying very hard to seem it.

  1. Avoid adverbs

Anyone who has read my blogs knows I am a huge fan of a well-placed, carefully positioned adverb. However, when it comes to web copy they simply add unnecessary word count – you want to be focused on clear and crisp copywriting, which is rather hindered by the overuse of adverbs. If at all possible I would avoid the use of ‘very,’ because it is often 1) misused – i.e. you can’t literally be ‘very unique’ or ‘very pregnant’ – binary concepts don’t allow for gradations and 2) unnecessary. Delete. Delete.

4)  Avoid jargon

Unless you are a very specific sort of B2B Company and need to show your teeth as it were, there is never a need to use jargon for the sake of using jargon. The point of sales copy is to inspire and touch the heart of your consumer – their most powerful organ…unless you are selling an entirely different sort… of product in sales. Appeal to their emotions because intellect is not what gets the credit card moving.

5) Avoid the word ‘holistic’

Just don’t, don’t even go near it. It has been overused to the point of redundancy and, not only that, but it carries connotations of some medical shaman trying to fix a broken leg by waving oils and spices, before throwing pepper behind his back. Avoid temptation and think about what you actually want to say.

If you would like some help crafting compelling copy please do feel free to give me a ring on 07826 857 882 or drop me a line on – Chai tea latte’s on me