Words are our weapons.
If you accept that truism, how can you let your keyboard excrete blanks?
Here's a collectible coin. The key selling copy: “Only a tiny fraction of all 2009 coins were set aside for this special gold-plated collection.” OK, you're the more experienced copywriter. What would you change?
You'd change “gold-plated collection” to “collection, each one clad in pure gold.” Factual change? None. Impact change? Substantial.
If you're a creative source lucky enough (not fortunate enough) to share in the results of your message, you're well beyond surprise at how big (not large) a difference individual words can make.
Try the following tests to see how a small change can make a big difference:
It's five o'clock Friday afternoon and your brain is out of gear. The muse of creative inspiration isn't resting on your shoulder. What to do?
A solution may be as close as the key next to the bottom-right “Shift”—a question mark. Questions are automatically reader-involving, and a dull, nonmotivating, declarative headline can come to life when changed to a challenging question.
(What many agree is the most famous headline of all time, which ran unchanged for 45 years, was a question: “Do you make these mistakes in English?” Imagine how flat that would be as a statement.)
Another quick fix: Change a declarative statement to an imperative statement. Tell 'em what to do and they're more likely to do it.
Your gas station attendant knows more about human relationships than a whole cadre of laptop-toters. He wouldn't say, “Sir, I suggest a lube replenishment for your vehicle.” Nah, he'd have you nodding yes by a direct communication: “Hey, buddy, your car needs an oil change.”
How about your copy? Change the oil? Or let it run dry?
Herschell Gordon Lewis is president of Lewis Enterprises, Pompano Beach, Fla. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.