Guy being excited in front of a brick wall. by bruce mars from unsplash

Once more, with feeling

The next time I read marketing copy that introduces with “we’re excited to”, I’ll go through the motions of finding a printer, installing whatever drives and needless printer vendor software is forced upon me, buying some real nice 80gms A4 paper bought from a local arts and crafts shop, print it out the piece, dunk it with gasoline and set fire to it.

Because that’s the only way to make that phrase truly relay excitement.

You're still reading? OK, good. Let's talk about writing great marketing copy!

After I started working with marketing in a startup I’ve become more attuned to how the craft is being done. And for some reason, a lot of announcement posts start with the phrase “we’re excited to” followed by something that doesn’t smell of excitement at all. Anyone who has caught on to this might be tempted to replace “excited” with “thrilled,” “proud,” “elevated,” or even “stoked.”

But the verb isn’t the problem. It’s that you are too focused on the what and not the why. What you’re up against is not people just waiting to hear the latest from your company. They want to be heard, understood and cared for. And your job is to figure where their desires and your news overlap and take it from there.

No one sits on the toilet scrolling to figure out how to optimize efficiency for their teams.

You are probably working on something that’s worth getting excited by! Your team has probably made something that’s useful, and even super interesting and impressive (if that’s not obvious, then you might have deeper problems). But you are also oh so busy, you have shit to do, that needed to get out like yesterday!

So we churn out marketing copy leaning on the words, phrases, and structure that we’re used to to get it done. We write things about “teams,” “collaboration,” “efficiency,” "innovation," and “transformation” that will never spark an ounce of dopamine with anyone.

If your job is to persuade people to pay some attention to whatever you have going for you and take your product into consideration, then you need to consider what makes people stop whatever they are doing, be intrigued enough to pay attention and make the decision to take in what you communicate.

There are a couple of tips that I tend to give to my team:

  1. Remember who your audience is and what they care about. Why should they care?
  2. Explicitly recognize the problems they have (that you can solve)
  3. Use tension, conflict, drama to get people hooked by putting emotion on the problem
  4. Give them a call to action early on
  5. If you manage to get someone hooked within the first paragraph or two, you can almost do whatever with the rest of your text

Of course, you might have heard some variation of these tips before. It’s rather basic if you think about it. But if it was truly that easy, people would be doing it more. So if you want to give yourself a competitive advantage: Take your draft and do it once more, with feeling. Con brio! (that's Latin for “with spirit”)

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