Well – it’s been a year. On this day, June 8th 2017, Terri May chucked away Cameron’s majority…losing her authority with three poisonous words:
“Strong and Stable”.
Where did it all go wrong? Why did no-one believe her?
I guess, lots of reasons. With “being crap” in the top two or three. But –
There’s one reason that’s all about copy – and you’ll want to avoid it, lest you suffer the same public embarrassment.
To explain, let me sidestep a mo and tell you about a website I found yesterday…
I was looking for a freelancer to help with…well, that doesn’t matter. And the first guy I found kept using the same word over and over:
It was in the headline. Then coughed up again every 2-3 lines…in every sub-head…every caption.
This guy really wants the world (or maybe Google) to see him as an expert. But his only ploy for getting the point across is –
Assert and Repeat.
Look. I could tell you I’m a dab hand at brain surgery. Or designing helicopters. Or juggling giraffes. Or anything else I’d suck at. But relentlessly telling you won’t make it so, or convince you.
Show – don’t tell.
If you’re the bee’s knees…the mutt’s nuts…show me. By sharing expertise, and letting me reach my own conclusion. Then I’ll believe it. But every time you flatter yourself with a label like “expert”, I believe you that little bit less.
That was Terri May’s downfall. She trotted out “strong and stable” every time she opened her gob – never backing it up with words or deeds that would help us believe her.
This is not a political message – it’s a marketing thing.
So how can you avoid the “Strong and Stable” Copy Bomb?
ANSWER: you might not like this, but…lay off the adjectives.
Think. Make a list of all the adjectives you’ve used in your copy – to describe yourself, your company, or a product or service:
Amazing… Incredible… Awesome… Pioneering… Ground-Breaking… Delicious… Hilarious… Enthralling… Reliable… Knowledgeable… Committed… Intrepid… Irresistible… Captivating… Stunning… Exotic…
What have they all got in common?
Hot air. Self-flattery.
Use any of these words (and thousands of others) in a sales pitch, and it sounds as hollow and empty as “expert” or “strong and stable”.
It’s fine on someone else’s lips. In testimonials, no problem. But in your own words? Nah.
Show – don’t tell. By the strength of your argument.
BUT (yeah, there’s a “but”)…that doesn’t mean language can’t help you.
You can still use descriptive words. But instead of adjectives, try describing with your nouns and verbs.
Take “delicious”. If you’re plugging your own restaurant, it’s an empty, hollow adjective. As useless as “nice” or “tasty”.
But drop in a rich noun like “aroma”, “spice” or “concoction”…or a tactile verb like “tingle” or (what the hell?) “orgasm”…and you convey the meaning without asserting it.
And that’s way more believable.
So – this week, a challenge:
Tear through your copy, and blitz the adjectives. Anything that smacks of self-flattery has to go.
It’ll hurt. It’ll sting. But it’ll be worth it.
Just be strong and stable…and do it!