By Rob Wicker
Perhaps you enjoy reading Marcel Proust and those long, languorous sentences that can take up half a page. If you do enjoy Proust you are the exception. Most Americans would rather do yard work than read Proust. So if you are attempting to persuade a large audience, keep it short. This means short sentences and short words. One reason that short works is because Americans are in a hurry. Therefore, we are a nation of scanners. It’s easier to scan short words in short sentences.
In his book Words That Work, political consultant Frank Luntz points out that the most successful political phrases are short. You’ve probably heard “I Like Ike” even if you were born well after the Eisenhower administration. Ike’s opponent for the presidency, Adlai Stevenson, used the slogan, “The Experienced Candidate.” This is a short sentence but the words are long – and boring.
The same is true in commercial advertising. “We Try Harder” from Avis and “Just Do It” from Nike are examples of how powerful short can be.
I’ve given you slogans as examples, but shorter is better for any marketing copy you write. Whether it’s copy for an ad, a brochure, or a website, keep the sentences and words short. I could keep going but…you get the point.