Guest Post by Shakirah Dawud

Ever heard the term “embarrassment of riches?”

Lots of marketing communicators have something like that, but instead of riches, it’s words (so not like that at all, really).

When we see a space for copy or content, we like to fill it with prose.

Not vague, or pedantic prose, either.

The sharpest and wittiest we can wring out. And we’re full of it.

Image: Emma Jane Hogbin via Flickr, CC 2.0

An ad for helping endangered animals may start with a question:

To survive or to thrive?

And we’ll answer ourselves:

Surviving is spending all day looking for bamboo. Thriving is spending all day eating bamboo. Like us, you probably like thriving better, too.

I like it! But the reader doesn’t generally need a smart aleck to tell them “thriving is better than surviving.”

It has a nice ring to it, but it doesn’t do much more than show off, taking up space without providing much information.

Guess what you’ve become in just two lines? Vague and pedantic.

Make it plain, and leave it alone:

Thriving beats surviving any day.

Then add the facts:

The population of an endangered species upon their addition to the list, their number and status today, what your client has done to help, and how the reader can help your client help them.

A poignant photo or two should do the rest.

Notice how your copy contracted, and your content expanded.

Find the balance that makes your message plain, and leave it that way.

Shakirah DawudShakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web.