Tuesday, August 14, 2007

sample copy editing for a marketing company

The copy discussed below is taken from a direct marketing company's website. It's a great example of jargon-filled persuasive copywriting.

It was also written by someone with poor storytelling skills. As a result, the copy doesn't grab the readers' attention and pull us into the narrative. (Pretty poor advertising for a marketing company, wouldn't you say?)

If this is your company, you have a great-looking site. The visuals are lush and compelling, and the site navigation is relatively straightforward.

(You might want to get rid of the links to images without text, though. They're confusing, and ultimately frustrate anyone trying to discover more about your company.)

Here's a sample of the copy from the homepage:

[Company name withheld] is a leading marketing firm with expertise, knowledge and experience in the fields of advertising, marketing and communications. Our versatility has allowed us to grow successfully, developing close working partnerships with our clients in the process. The skills and expertise of our team mean that we can, and do, deliver effective and strategic solutions on time and within budget; but, perhaps the greatest benefit to our clients is the innovation and resources that we can access to ensure that each project is tailored to the specific needs of individual clients.

[Company name withheld]'s clients can be any one. No client is too small if you are a growing company. Our clients can be a wide cross-section of markets including agriculture, construction, engineering, local authorities, manufacturing, professional service providers, property, recruitment and retail.

The diversity of these clients is equally matched by the diversity of services that they require. As a true "communications" agency, [company name withheld] has both the capacity and capabilities to meet these requirements, in both above and below the line marketing services.

There's a minefield of mediocre writing here. No spelling errors, but several awkward sentences, as well as the above-mentioned overdose of sales jargon, and some poor punctuation. To top it all off, the copy looks sloppy because there's an extra space between "close" and "working" in the first paragraph, and the copywriter has chosen to double-space after each period, which is no longer standard style for most print media.

The first sentence is an overdose of description. Words have more impact when there are fewer of them. If a reader has to wade through several, repetitive, long-winded, unnecessary words that trip, stall, bog down and bemuse the reader, the reader will start to forget your initial, strong, well-intentioned and important meaning, intent and point.

I wish more business writers would strive for clarity and simplicity. Here's what I hope they meant to say:

[Company name withheld] is a marketing firm that leads through versatility. With knowledge and experience in the fields of advertising, marketing and communications, we have grown into a company which can deliver specially-tailored strategic solutions to meet the needs of our most important partners - our clients.

No client is too small. Our clients come from a wide cross-section of markets, including agriculture, construction, engineering, local authorities, manufacturing, professional service providers, real estate, recruitment and retail. [Company name withheld] will work closely with you to ensure that your project is delivered on time, and on budget. Our innovation and resources create success.

The diversity of our clients is matched by the diversity of the services they require. As a true "communications" agency, [company name withheld] can meet those requirements, in both above- and below-the-line marketing services.

Of course, the deeper problem with the above copy is that it still leaves the reader wondering exactly what this company does. I had to look up the term "below-the-line marketing," and I'm still not sure what it means.

Why is it important to create clear and simple copy on your website? Your site may be the first point of contact with potential clients. And if your website copy is sloppy and incomprehensible, it could leave a very unfavorable impression.

I would recommend that this marketing firm hire a good copywriter to proofread and edit their existing website copy. If I were the copywriter, I would sit down with the management and spend some time discussing this company's own mission, vision, branding and strategy.

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