By Mike Forgie
I once had an English teacher who asked a girl in my class, “Would you say there is a lot of stuff in your purse?” to which the girl replied, “Yes.” My teacher then asked, “Would you say there is a lot of sand on the beach?” The girl also replied, “Yes.” Then my teacher asked, “Well, how much is ‘a lot’?”
The point my teacher was trying to make is you should choose your words carefully or they lose their meaning. When writing, we lose the emphasis we place on words when we speak, and, unless you are using a video, the audience can’t see your enthusiasm or dismay.
For dealerships, this means buzzwords like “all new” and “redefined” tend to lose their appeal to audiences. They get overused and are underpowered. This is not to get confused with words like “luxury,” which targets a market segment. Never, NEVER use “new and improved” because “new” means there was nothing like it before, and “improved” means it was built upon a previous version. These two words are contradictory and jargon.
Instead of telling your audience a description, think of the object you are describing and design it for them. An “all new” 2013 sports car sounds more appealing if you describe how the contoured body was slanted toward the wider rear-wheelbase for an aggressive stance. You could then go on to describe how this reduces drag coefficient resulting in a better fuel economy.
“Contour” is a relatively common term that puts an image in the reader’s mind when paired with “aggressive.” We have just painted a picture of that “all new” body style, and lead into a chance to captivate the reader about how body style isn’t just for aesthetic appeal. This is not jargon as long as you tie them together in a way your reader can understand, and give a true purpose for mentioning it. Also, if your sentences and subjects flow, so does that image in the reader’s mind.
1. The best tool you can use to help find better word choices is a Thesaurus. Thesaurus.com is free and easy to use.
2. Read your work out loud. If you are losing you breath before the next punctuation mark, then you are losing effectiveness.
3. Try to keep a single sentence less than two lines long. This will help reduce run-on sentences and you can look back at longer sentences to see where you can cut jargon.
4. Do you really need that word? Words like “really,” “just,” and “that” are filler. The earlier sentence is just as effective when written, “Do you need that word?” Look for these filler words. Another dealer specific example is: “This is the car that Ford built for all-terrain driving” should be “This is the car Ford built for all-terrain driving.”
I know some concepts are hard to understand at first. Cutting out filler and adding only effective adjectives is a tough balance, but you can do it. My primary piece of advice is to keep writing, and read information on similar subjects.
Word choice can either captive a reader or result in a blank glare. Choose your next words wisely.