College almost ruined me as a writer. I remember an upperclassman telling me to pass finals I should “fill out the whole blue book.” It may have been complete nonsense flowing from my brain to my pen but as long as I filled one book, I could guarantee myself a passing grade. As a result, I had a lot of trouble condensing my writing to a 600-word blog post or a one-page press release once I got out into the “real world.”
After being trained to write as much as possible—my independent study was over 60 pages long—writing less is much more difficult than you would think. And, it’s often what keeps us from creating really good marketing content.
Keep it simple.
Singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie once said, “Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
In today’s world, we can get information instantly whether through Google, Siri, or Alexa. As consumers, we expect the brands we work with and consume to convey very plainly what they do and how they benefit us. Complex descriptions and lengthy product and services listings don’t get read as most people are discovering brands on smartphones and tend to skim the content.
So, it’s imperative we get to the point! But how do you describe a complex business or solution in as few words as possible? Here are a few ways you can begin to simplify content for your brand:
1. Use bulleted or numbered lists instead of long-form paragraphs.
2. Draw the reader’s attention to important information with bold or italicized content.
3. Use subheadings to break up text.
4. Add visuals to help tell your story (i.e., photos, videos, graphics, etc.).
5. Get rid of unnecessary words like “that” and “just”.
6. Become OK with white space.
Practice makes perfect.
Creating simple content doesn’t mean re-training ourselves on how to write. This blog post was a solid 800 words before I cut it down to 419. Sometimes it’s easier to sit down at the computer and let the content flow, then go back and cut words, reorganize, and consider if a visual could be helpful to your readers.
No matter your writing process or style, keep doing what you’re doing but consider editing your work with these six rules in mind. The more you practice them, the easier it will become to write and edit digestible and interesting content.