• Ron Kellow

Three fundamentals to keep in mind when writing your next email, social media post, banner ad, etc.

1. Less says more

When was the last time you read a marketing piece and thought, “That’s it? I really wish there was more.” Probably never. That’s because when you’re sent any communication – a letter, email, direct mail – it’s asking two things from you: your time and attention. And those are two things you closely guard during your busy day.

This letter (at right) was originally three full pages long. Along with a tone that wasn’t customer friendly, its wordy content asked too much from its reader. This led to confusion – or people giving up and not reading it at all. Both fails.

Why this is important

By eliminating the extraneous information, writing in an active voice that’s open and friendly, and using bold subheads so the reader can “glance and get it,” this letter’s main message is now quickly and easily communicated. Making every word count and staying focused on the main message isn’t easy, but it’s something I’ve learned from years of communicating to internal, external, B2B and consumer audiences alike. 2. Keep it consistent

The company attorney writes a letter to a customer. A person from compliance sends an email to a new client. An R&D professional drafts an article for an internal newsletter. The problem? One sounds too superior. The other, far too complex. And the third, has too much technical jargon. While it’s important to be informative, it’s also critical to be consistent and clear in the voice you use across channels – especially with your most important audience: your customers. After all, they are the ones who may be visiting your booth at trade shows, reading news about your product online, or calling your customer support number when they have a question or concern.

Why this is important No matter how large and globally expansive it becomes, your company is still a brand. One brand that requires one voice. From servicing support calls to monthly e-newsletters, your brand must promise a consistent experience. Maintaining this experience takes understanding and skill. 3. Communication by translation

When I worked in Mortgage Banking Marketing at Chase, one of our top executives came to visit us in Ohio from New York. At the time, he oversaw the entire mortgage banking universe at the bank. And it was a very, very big universe. For an hour, he shared detailed updates on our business, foreseeable trends and his optimistic outlook for home equity loans. What really amazed me wasn’t only his content, but that everyone in the 100-person auditorium completely understood everything he said. Every word. He resisted using terms such as “matrix organization,” “economies of scale” and “value props” – complex jargon that others use to make what they’re saying sound more important. Nor was he “dumbing anything down” for the masses. By simply being clear and concise, he accomplished an even bigger goal: effectively communicating to everyone. He impressed me with his disciplined use of everyday words. He impressed me with his clarity.

Why this is important To be a great communicator means being a great translator. It involves taking complex information, completely understanding it, and choosing words that clearly communicate it to your audience. An audience that you should know very well. When this doesn’t happen, people will walk away confused – or simply walk away. Not good. 

Ron Kellow is a freelance creative copywriter based in Columbus, Ohio. He writes for a variety of clients, including both B2B and B2C. If you're at a loss for words or simply have a writing project you’ve been putting off, he’d love to help. Contact him today at  

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