Tuesday, July 14, 2009

12 Ways to Make Yourself Perfectly Clear, Part 1.

Becoming a writer is a lifelong process. You’re never really finished perfecting your craft, especially when it comes to being clear about exactly what you’re saying. Crystal clarity is essential if you’re trying to communicate with Baby Boomers. They’re well educated, sophisticated and demanding consumers who will simply ignore any piece of communication that’s hard to understand.

If you’ve been regularly writing your own advertising and marcom, you’re probably a pretty good writer by now, so I’m going to share with you the things that you must master to perfect your craft. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be better able to polish the rough edges until everything you write is crystal clear.

If you think this smacks of trying too hard, you’re not a real pro. Striving for absolute clarity is the minimum that a good professional writer owes his or her audience. This should be painfully obvious, but it’s not. Don’t take my word for it. Skim the first page of a dozen or so books at random. Better yet, try to decipher just about any written communication from the government—you’ll need the Rosetta Stone to penetrate the meaning. Ironically, the government is supposed to be our friend. Of course, that isn’t always the case. Consider the exalted civil servant who said, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear,” as he desperately labored to obfuscate the obvious.

Problems of clarity generally arise from two sources. The first is a brew of ineptitude, carelessness and laziness. The second source is that certain writers want to pretend that they’re communicating something of substance, when all they really want to do is give the appearance of communication. Long before 1984, George Orwell wrote, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” And that, unfortunately, often seems to hold true in advertising and marketing communications, where playing it loose with the truth is business as usual.

The best copywriters know that nothing speaks as clearly or loudly as the truth well told. No thinking person will tolerate anyone who willfully distorts the facts, and no one is going to buy anything from anyone who treats them like a fool.

People feel cheated when they don’t have a clear grasp of exactly what you mean after having read what you’ve written, because you’ve wasted their time. If you don’t approach the creation of your advertising and marcom with crystal clarity in mind, you’re not going to ring up too many sales with Boomers. “Buy something from you? I’m not even sure what you said!” is the way Boomers react to poorly written promotional materials of any kind, from TV to Twitter.

If your goal is to have Boomers really understand what you’re talking about, you’ll find helpful tips in the next couple of blogs. Take them to heart before you create your next ad or brochure, and you will clearly be on the road to becoming a more powerful writer.


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