Keep It SHORT, Stupid

Feb 4, 2014

In recent years, digital marketers of all physical statures have been forced to acknowledge one thing: short is in.

Sadly, we’ve exhausted ourselves by counting every word and every character on every piece of digital copy we produce. Our heads are just as full of numbers as they are of words.

Pop Quiz: Can you identify the significance of each of these numbers?

(1) 150
(2) 70
(3) 140

(Answer Key: (1) Website page description; (2) Website page title tag; (3) Tweet)

I hope the brevity demands of SEO and social media haven’t kept you up at night, leaving you counting characters instead of sheep. But page descriptions, titles, and tweets aside, it’s still a good idea to keep your copy as concise as you can.

One way to do so, other than hacking your last few words out of frustration, is to change your copy from active to passive voice.

If you majored in writing – or had a particularly zealous high school English teacher – you may recall the details of the passive vs. active voice debate.

Though I’ve never seen a live match between the two rivals, my bet’s on active nine times out of ten because it can enliven your copy with fewer words.

Too good to be true? You decide.

Passive: Magic Muffin Award is bestowed upon MultiMagic Muffins, Inc.
Active: MultiMagic Muffins, Inc. wins Magic Muffin Award

Passive: 500 muffins are sold by MultiMagic Muffins, Inc. in one hour
Active: MultiMagic Muffins, Inc. sells 500 muffins in one hour

Passive: Mike McMuffin is appointed as new CEO of MultiMagic Muffins, Inc.
Active: MultiMagic Muffins, Inc. names new CEO: Mike McMuffin

By using active voice, you would have saved seven words and 29 characters, which can make all the difference for your marketing copy.

These days, we marketers don’t just write; we also shave, snip, and trim. We need a new mantra, so how about KISS? Keep It SHORT, Stupid.

Expect the KISS theme to continue in my future posts as I delve further into the role of grammar, syntax, and usage in marketing copy.

By the way, do you need help shortening your copy? Our wordsmiths are at the ready! Give us a call at 410-312-0081 or fill out this contact form.

— Chrissy Hoffmaster, Copywriter

IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations, LLC

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