The Art of Being Succinct

One of the most valuable tools for any sales professional is the ability to be succinct. From strict space limitations in creating sales copy for advertisements, offline and online, to crafting effective sales messages to be distributed to potential leads, the importance of the ability to be succinct in sales copywriting cannot be understated.

While it can be difficult, here are a few tips to help you be more concise in your writing:

What is your Focus?

In your sales copy, what is the part of the message that you really want to effectively communicate? The key is to focus on this part of the message and avoid spending too much time on either the “build-up” or introduction to your focus or the conclusion after. The easiest way to discover your focus is to challenge yourself to fit your message into certain space restrictions. Even if you have a page for your sales copy, pretend you have to fit your message into a 140 character Tweet or Google AdWords ad space? With such significant limitations on how much you can say, what part of your message are you going to focus on?

Once you create your sales copy based on these restrictions, create the sales copy you actually plan on distributing with an emphasis on what you covered with these space restrictions and only brief coverage of other matters.

Get Outside Feedback

When writing sales copy for your own products and services, entrepreneurs and sales teams have the tendency to provide too much information. After all, in an effort to stress how great and important the solutions they are providing, sales professionals tend to go on and on about all the features and uses their solutions have. While this provides the lead with all the information they could possibly want, it results in long sales messages which can dissuade leads from reading all the information provided and moving forward with the sale. They key is to provide just enough information, so that interested parties request more details.

To help avoid long winded messages, have someone outside the firm unfamiliar with the product or service read the message and see what they gather from it. If they get lost or lose interest in the middle of your copy, then it is likely that it is too long and needs to be cut down. Refer back to the first point for help on how to find what your message should focus on.

Proofread your Message Out Loud

This may sound like something from a high school English class, but it truly is a simple effective tip for reducing wordiness. When editing work by simply reading it in your head, you tend to skip over words and phrases that seem commonplace, making your message seem more lucid than it actually may be. It is only through forcing yourself to read every sentence slowly out loud that you will be able to find run-on sentences, awkward phrasing, and unnecessary wording.

This post was written by Aditya Mahesh of Aayuja Sales Consulting, a leading sales consulting firm for technology companies. Visit the Aayuja Blog, for more posts on sales tips for increasing your blogging and online sales revenue.


52 thoughts on “The Art of Being Succinct”

  1. Tinh says:

    Thanks for great article John.

    1. Perhaps in order to be first you have not bothered to read the post and posted a lip service comment that even doesn’t address the person who wrote the post.

      1. d3so says:

        People are quick to be the first commentator 😉

        1. What is the big deal about being first, especially if you haven’t actually read the article and don’t realise that it was not written by John Chow?

          1. Paul B says:

            People think it delivers lots of traffic , it doesn’t. I spent a over a month speed commenting here and at Shoemoney and it delivers such a tiny amount of traffic it’s really not worth the trouble. You’ll get more traffic by making valid, interesting points.

          2. Exactly, though I believe that if you make enough comments to get into the TOP COMMENTATORS box you will get a lot of backlinks. What do you think?

          3. Yes add your comments with more valuable words and more visitors will come to your blog or website.

          4. Patrick says:

            Maybe he was just trying to be succinct! 😉

          5. Paul B says:

            Google is more than clever enough to discount top commenter links 🙂

            http://www.moneyschemes.net/top-commenting-doesnt-work/

          6. That may be true but not everything is about Google.

          7. Paul B says:

            Yes cos Yahoo and Microsoft are just stupid 2-bit companies.

          8. This guy has an opinion, oh wait it is your own blog, so let me re-word that, you have an opinion 😉 But I couldn’t find much facts to support your opinion. SY

  2. Hi Aditya,

    I think that the ability to be succinct is a good ability to have in general.

    Getting to the point is very important.

    Rambling on is usually an ability which for some sad reason is very rewarded in politicians.

    But there are sales people and copywriters who still have good success with stories and long copies.

    Vance

    1. d3so says:

      I find long copies very annoying but I don’t know how they can be more effective at times.

      1. Bg says:

        People who aren’t going to buy won’t bother to read short or long copy; people who may/do buy are persuaded by longer copy with more information.

      2. d3sco,

        I agree with you. I also find long copies very boring to read. You know the web has made everything accessible, and people are busy now, so no one wants to read a long copy.

        And Aditya Mahesh,

        You have written a great piece, and you have also acted on your own advice!

        I definitely agree with you. Infact, there was an article on Copyblogger with this same advice:

        “Are You Too Lazy to Write Less?”
        copyblogger.com/brevity/

        Regarding “Proofread your Message Out Loud”, I have also read that reading your copy backwards will force you to be more cautious and attentive to typos and spelling mistakes.

        Kindest,
        Nabeel

    2. Paul B says:

      I take it this long rambling comment is supposed to be ironic?

  3. Bg says:

    Um, this post is totally wrong? Advertising professionals know that long copy sells better than short copy. It’s in all the textbooks, it’s been tested beyond doubt, and there are many case studies online that prove it.

    1. d3so says:

      Textbooks are becoming irrelevant, times are changing, it’s time to innovate & adapt.
      I hate reading long copy & wouldn’t write one myself.
      I prefer video.

    2. Well… the guy that wrote the post is an advertising professional. I guess we should also keep in mind that different people come at problems with multiple techniques.

      1. I think it also depends what is being sold, if the prospect is pre-qualified and so on.

        If you are selling to a total stranger they won’t take too kindly to a log copy and won’t bother reading it.

        On the other hand people who are into what you are selling and have already bought from you will read a long copy gladly.

        Also people who are on the verge of buying but still need more information will devour the long copy.

        The post makes some valid points but is too dogmatic.

  4. I definitely agree that shorter is better. You need to be able to catch people’s attention and then draw them in later. People get bored when they have to put too much effort into something. The easier you make it for them to understand your product, the better the chance they will actually look at it.

    1. Yes if you want to sell something than people will not interested in long speech or post.

      Instead of that just go for main points and add main advantage.

      Really nice to see that Aaditya added very important tips here.

  5. When I first started my Online Business I just had one focus earn extra money from home I didnt have a glue when I first started out and went around in circles, finding blogs like John helped me understand the business and what I should be looking out for.
    Your Sales copy should stand out put thought into it make it eye catching, John’s great little tip keep it to 140 words why? so you leave people wanting to find out more, so they must click the link
    great post John

  6. I am having a hard time agreeing with too much in this article.

    I guess it depends on what you are selling and what type of client you are selling too.

    In the “real world” of business, you are pretty much shamed if you don’t have an adequate “sales copy” length.

    1. I agree with you except for the being shamed part.

      There is now a segment of people who think short copy is in and will think that you are of the old school if you adhere to the long copy.

      Both short and long should be tested in your particular market.

  7. LS 2208 says:

    Before writing any sales copy, first understand the native language of the people you are writing to.

    That includes not using words like “succinct” which a lot of people don’t know the meaning of when the words “brief and to the point” could have been used.

    Yes “succinct” is one word, and “brief and to the point” is five words, but I guarantee more people will understand those five words than the word “succinct”.

    1. The word succinct should be understandable to any native speaker of English.

      Those who don’t understand will do well to increase their vocabulary.

      If you are going to limit your language to only 500 words it will be a very poor reading.

      There is no need to use overly long and narrowly specialized words but to criticize the use of succinct is too much.

      1. I am English and I have a good vocabulary – what does vocabulary mean? 🙂

        Seriously, though you would be unlikely to include the word succinct in a sales letter, I feel pretty sure that if I stopped 100 people in the street and asked them the meaning of succinct, only about 10 would know the answer.

        However, LS2208 has made a good point and you don’t need 5 words to replace succinct as you seem to suggest. Brief OR clear OR concise will do.

        1. Well I think quite agree with the LC2208. Because many visitors came from other country where English is not the first language.

          But however Succinct is the proper word for this post.

          If any one have any doubt than they can easily go to http://www.google.com/dictionary and see the meaning.

  8. succinct = brief, clear, concise – if you go too far in adopting this maxim when writing sales letters you are not going to hold anybody’s attention for long and you are going to get to the “call to action” too soon.

  9. Good tips Mr. Chow.

    A lot of marketers seem to think that if they just throw something up that people will buy. Investing forethought and time into something is what makes it really pay off in the end.

    I especially like the last part of the post. Writing like you talk is one of the best ways to connect with your visitor and build “rapport”.

    1. Mr Chow didn’t write this. What if I don’t talk the same way that the people who tend to buy a particular product talk?

      Isn’t it better to use the language the most likely prospects use?

      1. If we had to write like we talk some people would be very boring indeed, especially if they say “you know” in every sentence.

        1. That’s right. Thee way most people talk is not very nice in print or on a web page.

          Even when we write a letter to a friend we don’t usually write exactly the way we talk.

          1. Yes, wouldn’t it be great if we could stop people from saying “you know” and “I mean” in every sentence?

            I mean, why don’t we, you know, all try writing a sales letter or, you know, any other letter exactly as we do speak, you know and see how much, you know, garbage we come up with?

          2. and another thing……..
            If English is not your first language, please don’t think it is smart to keep saying “you know” because it is a pollution of the language.

            Don’t do it and you will be speaking better English than most Brits and Americans,the US being where this nonsensical “filler” originated……………

  10. Chris Hunter says:

    John!

    What’s up with the RSS feed? Why aren’t you sharing the full blog post in your RSS feed anymore?

    1. Yeah I noticed the same. I guess John changed it or there must be some error.

      1. Is he will share full post than you will not come here … 🙂

        1. I’m sure that’s not the reason, he’s quite happy to have just RSS feed subscribers.

          1. Chris Hunter says:

            Thanks you! I still come to the site, but I like having the feed. That’s why I subscribed to it. If he’s not going to syndicate full posts, then I plan to unsubscribe.

  11. Hey Aaditya long time no see in Pho ??

    1. ZK have you been to the Dot Com Pho in Vancouver?

      If so it must be a while. Visit again.

  12. Thanks for sharing the article aajuya.

  13. If you want to sell me something, you have to tell me why I need it, what I get for my money and what amount of money you want from me. Preferable in less than 140 characters 😉 SY

    1. That sounds like you’d be willing to by through regular tweets.

      Are you sure about this?

  14. PPC Ian says:

    Awesome post! My average blog post is at least 800 words. While I believe I’m delivering serious value, I’m also working on being more concise.

    1. When it comes to posts I think there is a place for both short ones (400 words) and long ones with unlimited number of words.

  15. Chris S. says:

    I like this! Too many bloggers don’t know how to edit. Succinct content gets to the point and lets me get on with my day!

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