Readability is essential to writing a good sales message. What is readability you ask? It’s quite simple really… It’s the combination of multiple factors: sentence and paragraph lengths, structure and organization, how interesting or lively you are, the look and feel of the piece, and most importantly how well you matched your message to the emotions and interests of your target market.
Often, when people write ads and sales letters they get too caught up in using big words and fancy sounding jargon when describing their product or services. They are still caught in the “School / College” mindset that everything must be perfect and sound very intelligent. This is actually the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
When you write an ad or sales letter you want to be very careful about matching your message to your target market. You see people respond better to people (or in this case ads) that address their concerns or interests – that sound just like them. Furthermore, the reading level for the average American is somewhere at the middle school level. The average American will only read a handful of books in a year! I don’t say this to be critical, I say this because your marketing must address this concern.
That means that your marketing message should not rely on big words or complex ideas. Instead, your sales letters should read like someone is talking to you. This means that your promotions should have personality. You should use words that your target market would use. You may even want to take time to explain how you are a common Joe just like everybody else – a real live person not a faceless corporation. Include intentional misspellings and grammatical errors to mimic everyday communication. Sentence fragments, dangling participles, and common words are how people talk in real life and your sales message should mirror that reality. In fact, when you write your sales letters they should make your high-school grammar teacher cringe!
A good tactic to make sure that your ads will be easily readable involves reading your ads out loud. If you have problems or are stumbling over words, you need to rework your message to increase readability. A better tip is to take a child of about 10 years old and have them read your sales letter aloud. Any words that the child cannot read or understand should be replaced with clearer language.
Another way to connect with your target market is to go to where they would spend their free time and just listen to what they say and how they talk. This might mean that you spend time listening to people in certain sections of supermarkets, hanging out at the local pub, or going to a professional sports game. One final pitfall to avoid is the use of graphic artists. Never let some graphic artist get a hold of your sales letter and start monkeying around with it. It is important that the person that has the clearest understanding of the market, as well as the goals of the marketing, should guide the final outcome. That will almost always end up being you. The only principle that should guide your marketing is profit… pure and simple. Remember, you are not out there to win awards!
Readability is vital to the success of your promotions, ads, and sales letters. After all, if the stuff is too hard to read and understand most people won’t bother to continue reading. It is important to acknowledge this problem and to address it in your marketing. If you don’t you could are leaving money behind on the table! Stick to these tips and you will get a better response out of your sales letters, ads, and promotions.
Michael Black is a Direct Response Marketing Guru located in Colorado Springs, CO and Co-founder of Direct Results Marketing. Along with co-founder Jarrod Cash they have created comprehensive marketing kits, systems, and promotions for all kinds of businesses and services. If you want to make more money in less time then you need to be talking to us.