Sometimes I over-explain. When I work on a project, I usually think of plan A, plan B, plan C,… Often, this serves me well. I’m able to catch potential problems or can evaluate which solution would be best. Other times I just confuse people.
Do you struggle with this? Does it trickle into your marketing efforts? Because it is a problem that I often hear authors complain about or see in their marketing materials.
Here is a recent example. I follow a marketing thread on LinkedIn and one of the authors that regularly contributes recently went to a community event to promote her book. After the event, she referred to the whole thing as a “failed” event. The reason? Her marketing display was not effective in promoting her book.
In addition to other factors, the group pointed out that she had way too much text so that her main messages were lost. What she found from the experience was that a cover and just three words hooked her audience more than all her explaining and graphics.
In one of her comments regarding the event, she shared a sentiment that I imagine a lot of authors feel, “I’m a lot better at the writing than I am the marketing needed to communicate it.”
Isn’t it funny that those with the gift for words suddenly find that gift diminished when it comes to trying to effectively tell consumers about the book?
Marketing language can be very different than the writing style most long-form authors use. You must keep in mind that when a customer is looking for a book to pick up, her goals are much different than when she is actually reading the book. Thus, the goals of the writing should be different. Here are a few tips to keep your promotional writing under control:
1. Give the reader just a taste. You are trying to convey a feeling or a promise of an answer to a problem, not details. Leave that to the book.
2. Give a pay-off by focusing on one clear benefit. You may be able to think of a bunch of benefits, but don’t overwhelm your customer. Give them one hook. Whether this is a solution to a problem or a short explanation of why this book will entertain, the reader wants to know what is in it for them. Which goes nicely with the next point…
3. Write to your reader. Consumers don’t care why you wrote the book. They want to know what’s in it for them. What do they want to hear? How does your copy address them?
4. Use short sentences. Yes, this person wants to read. He is picking up a book after all. But he doesn’t want to read right now. He wants to put down money for a book. Let him! He’ll get on with all your fantastic writing later. For now, short sentences that read more like bullet points will help him make that decision.
5. Simplify to Maximize. This is the over-arching theme I want to leave with you. Your natural reaction will be to add more, tell more, and show more. Resist the urge and try cutting instead. What can you get rid of while still conveying your point? If it doesn’t absolutely have to be there, cut it to make better use of consumers’ very short attention spans.
Best of luck to you!
Photo: rosmary, Creative Commons