Copywriting for sales materials – less is often more

In the last month I have been at both the Suffolk Show and the Norfolk Show.

Archant is heavily involved supporting our local county shows and selling lots of newspapers at the same time.

This year we also had people signing people up to our new Tickles offering, which sends out daily emails of local money saving offers, at both shows.

After coming back from two very long but fruitful days at the Norfolk show I sat nursing sore legs and a large mug of tea thinking about what others were doing at the show.

Walking around, you get to see the wonderful and rather creative ways people describe what they do. I also have a habit of picking up sales brochures at shows like that.

It was not that I was interested in these businesses, but it is a great opportunity to collect examples of sales materials and branding aids from different industries to see if there any ideas I could steal, sorry I meant learn from.

So while trying to regain feeling in my legs, I flicked through a large pile of brochures I had picked up as I walked around the packed show.

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It became apparent that most were created by people who run with the adage “why use 3 words when you can use 300”.

The words, innovative and trusted company were used by at least a half a dozen of them. Few actually told me what they would deliver to me as a potential customer in a concise and easy to remember format that would stand them apart from their competitors.

Sales materials, especially sales brochures, are often beautiful things packed with words that potential customers simply don’t read.

This is mainly as the person who wrote them either was under instruction from his or her manager to make sure that they include all the benefits and descriptive text they think should be in there (forever known as The Crammer).

Or because they think that with 4 pages of a brochure to fill you should fill it even if it means long winded descriptions and lots of flowery text that says lots and yet nothing at the same time.

Only one company, in all the brochures I picked up, described in four concise words what they did and stood for. That simple statement set them apart and drew me into its literature which itself was concise, well designed and well written.

Whoever created that had sat back and taken time to think through what key messages they were trying to communicate to its potential customers and then delivered them clearly and concisely.

Creative writing and design is an art and writing concisely is a skill, ask any journalist or columnist who has to stick to 500 words.

So if you are thinking about creating something to promote your business, think about what you are trying to convey and remember in this case, less is often more.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant, follow him on twitter @timyoungman - follow the link at the top right of this page.