The Warm Yellow Stain in (Your?) Communications

I’ve always been a word nerd. When I was in third or fourth grade at primary school, I heard the following book title: “The Yellow River by I.P. Daley”. I recall finding that quite clever and funny.

(Truth be told… thirty years on, I still kinda do)

So what has this staggeringly hilarious play on words got to do with your marketing?

Well, it’s quite possible that your website, brochures, datasheets, infopacks, sales presentations, flyers, postcards, print ads, radio commercials, and so on… all have a weak bladder.

Most copywriting (not done by a professional) is all “we this” and “we that”, regaling the reader at length with what we do, who we are, why we sell purple widgets, and on and on and on…. just we-we-we-we-we.

Like I said, weak bladder.


Ah…Depend Undergarments: Ignorance Sure is Bliss

Now, the most depressing aspect of this unfortunate affair is that most business owners aren’t even aware of it. The copy just is what it is. It was written (usually by the business owner who is an expert in the topic) when the website (brochure, Yellow Pages ad, etc.) was first done… and that’s the way it is.

Sadly, it’s probably costing those same business owners tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of dollars in sales every year depending on what they sell.

At the same time, shedloads of money is probably being thrown at buying advertising space – which ain’t cheap, right? But if the message has that unpleasant, ammonia-like reek about it… well, we know the result.


Must…Not…Think…Of…Babbling Brooks

In stark contrast, if you were to have a… uh… “malfunction” (public or otherwise), the instant you felt that horrifying warm trickle, your brain would immediately leap into full red alert battle stations style action, would it not?


So how can it happen with copy? And how can it go on for so long unattended?

I wish I knew the answer to that. I have some theories, but I’d welcome any comments from your own experience. Just put “Groucho Marx” in the Name field to disguise your identity. ;)


*SNAP!* (That’s the Sound of a Rubber Glove)

Take a look at your marketing material. Is it incontinent?

If it is, the simplest thing you can do is rewrite it to focus on the customer. Copywriters aren’t cheap (well, good ones aren’t!) so if you really are strapped for cash, just follow these three DIY-copy steps:

1. Kiss the Piss Goodbye

That doesn’t mean eliminate it. But it does mean minimise it. No “we-we-we-we-we-we-we”. There’s a time and a place to talk about you and your company and there’s nothing wrong with that. You just need to work out when it’s appropriate and get rid of the rest.


2. Re-Tool Your Message Using “You”

This is relatively simple to do. If your homepage says something lame like:

“We offer the best poodle buffing service and we’ll do the best job in town!”

change it to

“Bring your pooch to the poodle buffing experts and get the most squeaky clean hound you ever did see!”


3. Focus on Benefits to the Reader

That re-tooled line above is a bit weak on benefits, to be perfectly honest, but it’s starting to move in the right direction. So I’d expect the next sentence to tell me why having a clean-as-clean-can-be doggie would be advantageous to me.

Note: Even if you think people know the benefits of having a clean dog, tell ‘em anyway! We never get tired of being reminded how our purchasing decisions are going to improve our lives. That is, after all, why we buy anything other than the bare necessities, isn’t it? To improve our lives?

So the next line might be something like:

No more stinky sofa! So you can enjoy your favourite TV shows with your furry friend nuzzled up beside you and not have to worry about expensive upholstery steam cleaning or wondering why your guests prefer to stand.

You get the idea.

Of course, there are plenty of other techniques in the copywriter’s toolbag, but those three are more than enough to steer you in the right direction. I’m sure you don’t want to be a professional copywriter. You have a business to run. You just need to remove that sales-killing yellow stain from your communications.

Take a slash at re-doing your copy using the three points above. If it doesn’t result in more sales, I’ll eat my shorts.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave your comment below, Groucho.


P.S. A service I offer small business owners from time to time is a Website Performance Analysis. It includes a critique of your webcopy.

P.P.S. In fact, I may well be available to rewrite your Yellow Pages ads, brochures, local newspaper ads, etc. right now. Get in contact with me today and we can talk about what you need done.

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