Is your marketing copy lazy and predictable?

Lazy dog

Written by Sarah Miles

11 April 2023

Copywriting | how to write better marketing copy | how to write marketing content | lazy copywriting | marketing copy | professional copywriter

When content just gets too ‘eggstra’

At the time of writing, it is Easter and for the umpteenth year running, many brands have trotted out the same Easter-based puns in their marketing copy: ‘an egg-cellent offer’, ‘better hop to it’, ‘be egg-stravagent’, ‘spring into Easter’ etc. Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing I love more than a clever word play or pun, and I don’t even mind if they’re pretty cheesy (in the right context) but this constant rehashing of the same lines is not only lazy but renders your messages meaningless.

You can do better.

Of course, Easter is the perfect spotlight for this lazy content, but it happens all the time, and not just with regard to puns; it also includes copywriting ‘set pieces’ that just require you to fill in the blanks, for example [eggs-ample? Sorry], ‘from X to Y, we have everything you need to Z’ or ‘whether you enjoy X, or just love Y, you won’t want to miss out on our Z’. It may describe what you offer but it’s so familiar, it’s dull.

Creating engaging copy without falling into the usual traps

Often, businesses are enticed into this style of writing (especially if not produced by a professional copywriter) because everyone else seems to do it; the assumption being that it must work, right? Plus, let’s face it, it’s easier than crafting something different.

However, it is exactly this over-familiarity that will, at best, bore your audiences and, at worst, render your messages beige and utterly ignorable. I would, therefore, urge you to step away from the overused egg-iterations (and their many seasonal and sector equivalents) and consider more creative communications.

Be topical without being typical

I must point out at this point that word plays are not the enemy; far from it, as they can represent clever hooks that communicate your point perfectly in a zinger of a strapline. It’s really the churning of the obvious and overused that I’m talking about, especially putting the pun at the centre of the message, at the expense of what you’re really trying to say.

Marketing in general, and copywriting in particular, is all about being targeted and specific and there’s nothing wrong per se with using seasonal events in campaigns. We actively seek out opportunities to relate to our brands and hang our messages on; just look at the number of ‘awareness days’ there are (it often helps to amplify your message when interest is piqued through wider campaigns and events). However, you should always make sure it’s relevant and don’t fall down the predictable rabbit holes. Be topical, not typical (see what I did there?).

Writing attention grabbing marketing copy without relying on word tricks

For a copywriter, word play, puns, alliteration, and rhyming are often our stock in trade for many consumer-targeted headings and straplines that aim to grab attention and communicate an idea very quickly. However, I recently did some work on a campaign that turned this upside down in a way that I hadn’t really come across before. The project was a collaboration with a creative agency based in Wales, working for a public sector organisation. The objective was to encourage people to volunteer to clean up and care for green spaces. My initial ideas included things like ‘Join the River-lution’ and ‘bank on our rivers’. “Nailed it”, I thought. How wrong I was. While the agency really liked the concepts, I just hadn’t accounted for the fact that all content had to be bi-lingual English and Welsh. These standard tricks of the trade just don’t work in a different language, which is not something I’ve ever really needed to incorporate into my processes.

Back to the drawing board I went, and it occurred to me that without these ‘literary crutches’ to lean on, it forced me to really think about the purpose of the project rather than trying to be too clever with rhymes, patterns, and portmanteaus. We’re still in the thick of the creative process but our current working strapline is ‘Do something dirty’. It’s to the point, it sums up all the activities, and it’s provocative enough to be intriguing. Most importantly, it works equally well in both languages.

So, is your content lazy?

Take a look at your recent campaigns. Is your content engaging and fresh or is it lazy and predictable? Next time you find yourself suggesting ‘eggs-traordinary discounts’, ‘spring into action’ or ‘New Year, new you’ to the marketing department, or just going through the motions of copy set pieces, take a step back and rethink (or outsource it to a professional).

You May Also Like…