If you’ve ever listened to advice on losing weight, you’re probably familiar with the term “empty calories”.
It simply means the food you’re eating – like a candy bar – is full of calories, but has negligible nutritional value.
The same can happen in writing.
Lots of words, negligible meaning.
And perhaps surprisingly, some of the biggest offenders are digital ad agencies.
You’d think marketing professionals would know better. But apparently not.
Here’s an example of what I mean…
“We deliver a personalized customer experience. You are not just a number to us; you’re a partner. We work with “the best of the best” — companies at the top of their game who need just a little more guidance to reach and exceed their goals. If your company is truly exceptional, why hire a lackluster marketing company. Your enterprise deserves excellence.”
Nothing wrong with the words or the structure of the sentences. Heck, they even used a semi-colon.
But go back, read it again, and tell me what you learned.
What have they just communicated?
Maybe they’re just trying to say, “We work with smart companies and do good work.” But their version in way too long.
Besides which, it’s an incredibly ordinary, boring and generic message.
Empty words and empty sentences… devoid of meaning or promise, and giving me no reason to hire them.
Now let’s look at an example of some writing that works much harder…
“We create video, white-papers, and case studies for SaaS companies who see customers as friends rather than users.”
Oh my. Not an empty word in sight.
After just 19 words I know exactly what these people do, and who they do it for.
Because there’s some promise and intrigue there at the end. “…companies who see customers as friends rather than users.”
That piques my interest. I’d better dig in and find out more.
That’s what happens when you work harder on your message.
It’s what happens when you write to communicate with clarity, instead of trying to look good by hiding behind fancy-pants blah blah blah.
Take a look at the first screen of their homepage.
(This is a little off topic, but I love what they’ve done.)
Their homepage is SO wrong… because the first thing people see on the site is the “team photo”.
SO wrong again… because the photographer clearly forgot to tell them it wasn’t casual Friday. And the location is obviously NOT the 7th floor conference room. (Friends, anyone?)
And yet… SOOO right… Because these guys stand out from the crowd in such a powerful and unexpected way.
Stop trying to hide behind language, design and conventions that just make you sound like all your competitors, in a vague and unsatisfying way.
Go through your site and cut out every empty word, sentence and paragraph. Dump the empty images too.
Be clear about what you’re trying to say.
Find a way to share your message that isn’t just one more marketing cliché.
And make every word count.