An article about the English language in the online version of the Times Literary Supplement has started me thinking (not for the first time) about the way we use language. I am, I freely admit, a bit of a pedant on this subject. After all, the purpose of language is to communicate and if the person listening to us or reading what we have written doesn't understand what we are trying to say then we have failed.
I was reading a book of short stories the other day. The second paragraph of one of these read "But as I let the street suck my blood while I still have blood to suck we are not on terms and a glimpse is better than no terms at all until I stand all drained of psychic energy from nothing not even a glimpse, glimpses being untimable in a live long day of a full irregular masculine time-table and walk away quickly as if none of it mattered to unnumb my limbs while I still have limbs to unnumb all the way to the small flat in the square block in the big lonely city." Do you have any idea what that means? Because I don't! The author lost me way before the end of this 96-word sentence. I cut my losses and turned to the next story.
It's the same with sales copy. If I go to a website because I'm interested in whatever it is that's being sold and I'm confronted by a sales letter that rambles on about all sorts of other things that I'm not interested in - the writer's house in Florida, his yacht, his glamorous holidays - then I don't read to the end.
As anyone who's read some of my previous posts here will know, I'm a great fan of Armand Morin. If I go to his website to find out about the FAST (Facebook Ad Secret Training) system, there are no long screeds about how wonderful Armand is or how much money he's made but, rather, a powerpoint presentation that begins "Let me ask you a question . . . What if I told you there were 9 secret methods to advertise on Facebook which no one is telling you about?" This, to my mind, is great copywriting. My natural response is to want to find out about these methods. I'm hooked within seconds. As another marketing guru, Matt Bacak, has said "People love secrets". Mention that you know a secret and everyone else will want to know it, too!
Recently I've heard several people say that the day of the long sales letter is past. Well, hooray! I'm too busy to waste time reading something that I'm not really interested in. And, if you've read this far, then hopefully I'm practising what I preach!!