I’m not usually a big fan of forwarded ‘funny’ emails. But I have to admit – my sister sent me a cracking one the other day.
“Things happen when you wear ELEGANZA!” screamed the 1970s magazine advertorial. “The boldest collection of dashing apparel and dramatic imported footwear anywhere”. Cue photos of overly-hirsute men in tight shirts and high-waisted, sharply ironed flares.
It’s a far cry from the marketing we’re used to nowadays. And that’s not just because few men today would be seen wearing lapels that look like a spaniel’s ears. The ad was long-winded, over-hyped and unctuously cheesy – and today, that just wouldn’t cut the mustard (pardon the savoury food references).
Marketing and sales content today must be punchy. You’ve got to make a simple point quickly, or risk losing your reader's attention. And I actually think that this is a fairly recent development.
When I first joined this company as a junior writer some eight years ago, the importance of "the message" was drilled into me from day one. But the way in which we communicated that message was, on the whole, notably different. The writing department spent its time devising witty analogies and creative leitmotifs to weave throughout lengthier prose. Our customers loved the results, and by all accounts so did theirs.
But now, social media and internet-enabled devices are vying for and shortening consumer attention spans. Few people have the patience to read anything, let alone marketing material. So over recent years, our approach has evolved.
That’s not to say that content for this new world is easier to write. On the contrary – it requires a sharper mind and a lighter touch than ever before. A Tweet that gets re-Tweeted; a title for a white paper that triggers downloads; a subject line that gets an email opened... Writing any of these requires precision crafting to ensure it meets with consumer satisfaction, client marketing objectives and increasingly restrictive character counts.
You could call it Content 2.0. And personally – when it works – I love it. I have real respect for anyone who makes themselves heard above the marketing noise with something that truly makes me take notice, think twice, or (best of all) smile.
Then again, that level of respect does depend somewhat on the size of their lapels…
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