Compelling Copy can be Clear as Well

Or – how not to be too clever for your own good when writing marketing material.

Though technically anyone can write, the task of creating copy for websites, brochures, flyers and other direct mail marketing collateral is often delegated to copywriters because of their skill with words. That’s their job, after all. Horses for courses. Producing exciting messages to cajole potential customers into buying your product or using your services is in their blood, (or it should be), whereas the rest of us often haven’t the time, inclination or ease with words to write effectively.

We might struggle for hours on a piece of writing which a copywriter could create in a quarter of the time – and with better results – so it makes more sense for us to do what we’re good at and leave the writing to someone with the right skill-set.

Copy that’s as clear as mud?

Engaging a writer to, well, write, is only common sense. However, writers simply love words and like nothing better than playing with them. They love a little lick of alliteration, they’ll go to the ends of the earth for hyperbole and as for onomatopoeia – boom! (See what we did there? If not, it confirms exactly what we’re talking about).

When you’re trying to get across your marketing message, wordplay is all well and good. It makes copy quirky, witty and individual and can really give a sense of your brand image, BUT – that’s only as long as the information isn’t so tied up in linguistic acrobatics that it’s no longer clear what you’re promoting.

We’ve all seen adverts which make us shake our heads and think, ‘Well, that was very entertaining, but what exactly is it about?’ Cleverness kills conversions. On the other hand, copy that is clear to the point of being patronising can be oh so dull – and boring material loses sales too. It’s a dilemma…

There are more than two types of copy

It seems to be an ongoing debate in marketing circles – this idea of clear v clever copy. We’re here to tell you that you can have it all. Sometimes, clear, down-to-earth copy is required, just like the famous Ronseal ad, ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ That’s clear and that’s clever too.

Sometimes, clever copy can pique people’s interest. Here’s one from Swiss Life, financial and legal services:

I like working with you is impossible.

For all life’s twists and turns:

Flexible financial plans.

Clever. Compelling. It makes you look twice. Clear? Yes, we know what’s on offer.

Good copywriters will know which approach to use no matter what the product or service, to maximise effect and the chance of conversions. We all understand that a marketing campaign is wasted if it isn’t on-message and on-brand. That doesn’t mean that the message can’t be clever as well as clear. A clearly-stated benefit which is exactly the same as your competitor’s clearly-stated benefit isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd.

Marketing guru, David Ogilvy says, ‘There are no dull products, only dull writers.’ There are clever writers too. The cleverest writers know when they shouldn’t be too clever.

Mailing Expert