I’ve lived in the Southeastern U.S. my entire life. Therefore, I can use the word “redneck” without being offensive. I’ve traveled all over the world, so I consider myself a polished redneck. However, when it comes to writing marketing copy, you don’t want to sound anything like a redneck – unless you work in the marketing department for Cracker Barrel.
At its essence, marketing is all about the effective use of language. You create words that convince people your product or service is worth purchasing. In other words, marketing is about using language that enhances credibility and trust. Most people are uneasy about buying something from someone who doesn’t seem credible. For example, wood u trust mee as an x-pert if I rote like this all the tyme? Probably not. That’s why you need to write in a manner that makes you appear educated and trustworthy.
However, I see too many people writing books, marketing brochures, website copy, and blog posts that lack basic grammar and punctuation principles. They seem to be making up the English language on their own. Maybe the slept through school or had a bad teacher. But, that’s no excuse. In the spirit of helping you write as professionally as possible, let’s review these essential writing rules:
• Don’t double up on conjunctions at the beginning of a sentence. Pick one and go with it. For example, don’t say, “And, when…” Just say, “When…”
• When starting a sentence with a conjunction, put a comma after it. For example, “And, she went on to say…”
• Whenever you write dialogue from someone else or between two people, always introduce the text with a comma and use quotation marks at the beginning and end. For example, my wife said, “Hurry up for dinner.”
• Avoid over-using these three elements. Keep them to a minimum, such as limiting their appearance to only once in an entire chapter, article, or blog post:
1. Ellipses …
2. Exclamation points !
3. Parentheses (…)
• There is rarely a legitimate need to put words in parenthesis (like I’m doing right here). Instead, put the text within commas, such as I’m doing right here, or turn the text into a separate sentence. I’m doing it right here.
• Take any sentence that is over 30 words long, and cut it down to be more concise. Try to keep all sentences less than 30 words unless absolutely necessary. Don’t burden people with long, boring sentences that read more like an entire paragraph.
• Put a comma before the word “and” when displaying a list, such as One, Two, and Three.”
• Capitalize all references to God, such as the Father, Holy Spirit, He, Him, etc.
• Don’t start a sentence using “What…” “How…” or “Why…” that ends with a period. If you start a sentence with those words, it should always end with a question mark.
• Learn how to use commas properly. Their role is to help identify separate thoughts, phrases, or items within a sentence. Notice how I use commas to help make this long sentence appear shorter, easier to understand, and if a reader gets confused, the commas make the sentence structure less complicated.
Use these tips to make your writing and marketing language as powerful as possible. It’s okay to be a redneck. Jus’ don’t right liek one.