How not to sound “pitchy” in marketing writing

It’s a problem as old as marketing itself. Someone is tasked with putting together effective copy, but the finished product reads like a used car salesman’s lazy attempt to finally get rid of the lemon rusting in the corner of the lot.

So, how does a budding copywriter avoid the “pitchy” tones and inspire the reader to buy the product, vote for the candidate, donate to the fund or volunteer for the organization?

Speak their language

They can start by thinking of their copy as a conversation with the target demo. If the product is a local Raleigh craft beer, maybe imagine you are discussing beard length and indie rock with a Morgan Street regular.

How would you speak to him in his own language in a way that would get him out of his seat and over to the counter to order one?

Don’t use cliches

Some marketing phrases have been heard so many times in a person’s life that when they hear them the guards immediately come up. You know most of them. Others are a little more subtle, but they set off readers’ alarm bells. Here’s one of my least favorites.

“Whether you’re ___, ___ or ___, ___ is always a great ___.”

I’ve seen this exact sentence more times than I can count when editing copy. I’ve seen it in my own copy on occasion and have shuddered. Here’s an example in the context of, say, a car ad:

“Whether you’re driving around the city, picking up the kids or going off-roading, a rusty lemon is a great car for Triangle residents.”

It’s too general. It doesn’t pick an angle. Instead it just says, this car is everything you’ve ever wanted, so just go ahead and buy it already. It’s not a believable claim, especially when said flippantly.

Seek first to engage, not sell

You’ve got to make the sale, but be intentional about when and how. Think about how much space you have to work with. If it’s only a couple of sentences, you may have to simply “tell, not show” (to flip the popular creative writing advice). But do try to engage with them, and give them a reason to engage back. If you can get them to laugh, that’s a win. If you can teach them something, wonderful. If you annoy them with a jingle that will lodge in their head for years, that’s even something.

Think of an ad that you still remember to this day. They did something to engage you, and you took notice. As they say in the copywriting “Bible” Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, it made you “lean in.” Teach them, entertain them, annoy them, but damn it, don’t get immediately tuned out as just another pitch.

First Page Creative can help

Whether you need writing for radio, television or online, First Page Creative is the perfect writing service for you. We will fulfill every expectation with our perfect use of the English language. You’d be insane not to call us right now to learn how we can help write just what you’re looking for.

Sorry, ignore that. But do call us at 703-408-6763 if you are a Raleigh, Durham, Cary or other Triangle area business looking for some help with your marketing copy.

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