Most copywriters don’t equate high tech with high creativity. After all, how can you get excited about writing a brochure for a hardware or software product when most of the text must be a dull recitation of features and specifications?
Yet many promotional materials for high-tech products can benefit from a dash of creativity. The trick is to develop a set of creative writing techniques that you can easily call on and adapt as needed for each project. The creative ideas in this article will give you a great start.
Extend a Concept
In many cases, a particular marketing document must carry through the themes, images, and creative concept of an advertising campaign. While you’ll want to maintain continuity among related materials, you can also look for ways to extend the creative concept.
Repeating a theme statement, adapting an image, and continuing a metaphor are possible creative extensions.
Use Fresh Language
Many marketing and public relations materials for high-tech products seem like they were written by the same writer. Certain words, phrases, and styles become popular and make their way through marketing departments like fashion trends.
When you tire of the latest overused buzzword, how do you find a substitute that has the same appeal to a reader? And perhaps more realistically, a replacement word that will have the same appeal to the product manager or sales director who must approve the document?
Develop your own synonym list for the stale marketing jargon that appears in your materials. For example, instead of describing a product as “leading,” use one of these words: superior, first-rate, outstanding, remarkable, innovative, excellent, proven, or acclaimed.
Avoid Waffles and Couch Potatoes
Two other problems commonly creep into marketing text: waffle language and couch-potato verbs.
Waffling is the impression left in the reader’s mind by any sentence that includes the words “can” or “may.” Corporate attorneys love these two words, because they limit the company’s potential liability, by not explicitly promising that the product actually performs as described.
Indeed, it is appropriate to use the words “can” or “may” if the feature is optional or conditioned upon an external product or user action. But the marketing message will be stronger if you delete these waffle words and use a clear, strong verb instead.
Another fast way to deaden the impact of a marketing piece is to use any form of the verb “to be.” These state-of-being verbs create a sentence that just sits there, like a couch potato, passively expecting readers to generate their own enthusiasm. In particular, sentences that begin “There are” or “There is” create a sense of distance that dampens the reader’s interest.
Active verbs are the answer for writing text that will have a more powerful impression on the reader. A simple way to identify couch-potato verbs in a document is to search for the verbs “is” and “are” and replace them with active verbs.
Paint a Picture, Tell a Story
Determine if the document could be improved by using any of these creative techniques:
· Using imagery such as a metaphor, analogy, or allusion to something non-technical that will help the reader’s understanding.
· Reformatting the document to present the text in a more attractive way or to add diagrams, photos, tables, or other visual elements.
· Including customer stories or anecdotes, written in the customer’s voice.
· Adding humor to the language or graphic design; if appropriate to the content and audience.
Use Writing Resources
A comprehensive and current dictionary, thesaurus, and word usage guide are essential for finding fresh language and sparking your creativity. These resources are especially helpful:
Bayan, Richard: Words That Sell. A thesaurus of promotional adjectives and phrases, organized by product quality.
Glazier, Stephen: Random House Webster’s Word Menu. A cross between a thesaurus and a dictionary, with words arranged by topic. Very useful for text that incorporates a metaphor or imagery, because you can easily find all related words in one place.
Develop Creativity with Practice
The copywriting techniques described in this article can require careful thought to execute well. But with practice, you’ll be able to apply more creativity in ways small and large, according to the needs of each high-tech marketing or public relations project.