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Last night I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time as I flew into Santa Barbara for MarketingProfs' Finders Keepers two-day intensive marketing workshop....

An hour after landing, I was drinking wine with workshop participants before resting up for the seminars ahead. I took the opportunity to ask if there were any special copy-related topics they wanted me to cover.
"Yeah," said one marketer. "How do I know when my copy sucks?"
Here's a start: Consider a sign I saw at a fast-food counter at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport yesterday: "We're sorry. This concept is currently unavailable. Please consider one of our other available concepts."
"Concept"? I was looking for a pulled-pork sandwich, not a philosophical abstraction.
So -- Copy Sucks Detector Number 1: Ridiculous, pretentious language that has absolutely no meaning for your customers. If you mean "restaurant," say "restaurant."
Other signs of the vampire's bite?
* Lots of superlatives such as "excellence," "cutting-edge" and "innovative."
* Lack of a clear "what's in it for the customer" message.
* Shortage of tangible, meaty specifics.
* Presence of self-congratulatory chest beating, i.e., "We're the world leader in . . . "
* Reliance on jargon and business babble.
* "Me too" positioning that's similar to your competitors' messaging.
The list could go on and on. Feel free to hang the garlic and add your own bites.

Continue reading "How Do You Know When Your Copy Sucks?" ... Read the full article

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image of Jonathan Kranz

Jonathan Kranz is the author of Writing Copy for Dummies and a copywriting veteran now in his 21st year of independent practice. A popular and provocative speaker, Jonathan offers in-house marketing writing training sessions to help organizations create more content, more effectively.

LinkedIn: Jonathan Kranz

Twitter: @jonkranz