A dead-simple way to make your copy sing off the screen

Chief Creative Officer

Whenever my wife’s mother asks me to open a bottle of wine, I do what many sons-in-law can only dream of doing …

I say “No.”

I’m not shy about tacking on an expletive or two either, just to squash any possibility of a “pretty please.”

It’s not because we have a thorny relationship. I just don’t care for Janelle’s posh taste in wine openers.

If you’re a regular person like me, your corkscrew is small enough to be kept in a kitchen drawer or concealed in the balled fist of a jealous lover.

But not this one.

Much too bulky for discreet storage, this big boy comes in a box that requires two longshoremen to pry open the lid.

Once inside, you’ll find a contraption so modern in its engineering, yet so medieval in its ferocity. And if someone didn’t tell you what it was for, you might think it could be anything from changing a tire to extracting a face full of healthy molars.

They call it the “Rabbit.” Because that’s what it looks like. (And if you’re gonna Google it, make sure you add a few more keywords or you may dial up a product with a startlingly different purpose.)

I hear it’s the fastest and easiest way to open a wine bottle. But I’ll never know for sure because of the one additional item included in the box …

Instructions. 🤦‍♂

The second you introduce work between your customer and what they want, they’re gone.

And if what they want is as uncomplicated as opening a bottle of wine, you’ve introduced lunacy too.

Too early for a drink? Let’s do food …

Ever think about cooking something, then change your mind when staring down the list of soul-crushing steps in the recipe? Beef Wellington isn’t even that hard to make. But compared to that drawer full of take-out menus, it’s a no-brainer, yeah?

That’s why I try to keep the marketing advice in these emails as simple and commonsense as possible.

Because the easier it is to take in, the more likely you are to use it—and profit from it. 

You’ll never catch me blinding you with “17 tips for this” and “53 keys to that” ‘round here. You’ll find all the lists you can handle on LinkedIn—probably in the posts you save and won’t ever go back to. (Guilty.)

Instead, you get one marketing nugget in the morning that you can start using by that afternoon.

Simplicity + Utility = You not punching me in the face.

This one is so effortless, you don’t even need to be a copywriter to make it fly …

Read your copy out loud.

I know what you’re thinking—

“Matt, you just dragged me through 446 words for that?”

There’s no such thing as “too simple,” Chelsea. But as promised, the useful part. 👇

Figuring out where to improve your copy can be difficult to spot when you put the entire burden of editing on your eyes. That’s why you should tag your ears in, too.

Good writing has a musical quality. And just like you can hear a wonky note in a song, it’s not hard to detect where something may be a little off in your copy. 

Here are three things to listen for when you review your next draft … 

Sentences working too hard
Don’t confuse this one with long sentences. A well-written long sentence can create balance within a patch of shorties, building a cadence that’s pleasant to the ear. This is more about fixing sentences that try to communicate too much. 

Every sentence should convey one idea. The more “ands” and “buts” you hear, the more weight you may be putting on that single line. If you find yourself struggling for breath as you read, consider breaking a long sentence into two shorter ones. Maybe even three.

Copy that draaaaags
Ever hear a wedding toast start to derail? It’s not just the slurring. It’s because the person has started losing the audience’s attention. Same thing can happen in your copy. 

A sentence’s job is to propel you toward the next one. Things get sluggish when you stop focusing on what the reader cares about. That’s why you need to read your copy from your audience’s perspective. Then, listen for what they want to hear—not just what you want to say. 

The big finish
Without knowing all nine of you personally, I’m assuming your marketing is focused on getting someone to do something. 

So, when you reach the end of your copy, do you wanna do that thing you want your reader to do? If you’ve made an emotional connection that cements your product or service to the outcome they want to achieve—while draining every logical objection along the way—you’ve done your job.

But if you’re not convinced—they won’t be either.

. . .

Everyone from E.B. White to Hemingway to my 10th grade Latin teacher has laid some version of “the best writing is rewriting” on me (although only one called me a “clod” to my face)

See you next time. – Matt


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Chief Creative Officer
Matt is a professional storyteller. That used to be a thinly veiled way to say you still lived with your parents. But the truth is stories have existed since the dawn of humanity and they still have the power to move people, even if it’s no longer from the path of a charging mammoth. Throughout his career on both the agency and client sides, Matt’s work has been known to compel audiences to indulge in higher thread counts, abandon Lenten sacrifice, or move to the suburbs. He’ll even conjugate a noun if he has to. The bottom line: Matt is our agency twofer. Strategy and Creative. The Big Idea and Stealth Deployment. He’s a single expense yielding a dual return. And who doesn’t love a bargain?

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