Remember a few years (decades?) back when the late, great Paul Newman took some heat for comparing his wife, the equally awesome Joanne Woodward, to a slab of beef? For those who don’t recall (or who weren’t born yet), an interviewer had asked Newman if he ever felt tempted to stray in his marriage. His response was classic: “Why go out for hamburger when you have steak at home?”
While some people railed at Newman for making what they thought was a less-than-flattering comparison, Woodward never complained. Maybe that’s because she was one smart lady who knew that most Americans love a great steak. And that Newman’s analogy was not only well-intentioned, but insightful, too.
Good marketing copy – ad copy, press releases, feature articles, blog posts, etc. – is like a perfectly grilled steak.
It sizzles. It’s savory. It melts in your mental mouth. It’s a pleasure to consume and it leaves you feeling well-satisfied when you’re done with it. When you’ve finished digesting well-written copy, you have no desire to go looking for anything less gratifying ever again. And the next time you’re in the mood for some delicious mental nourishment, you’ll go back to the same place that served you that great read.
Conversely, poorly written copy is like a bad hamburger. Ever had a burger that’s dry, over or undercooked, tasteless and unsatisfying? It’s not an experience you want to repeat, and you’re not likely to return to the greasy spoon where you got that bad burger.
Crummy copy is the same. Give your readers empty-head calories – copy that doesn’t inspire, entertain, inform or satisfy – and they won’t be back for another helping.
Creating great content is a lot like grilling a lovely, juicy steak. You need to start with a nice cut of meat (an interesting, informative story). Use a decent, well-prepped grill (good grammar and punctuation). Add just the right type and amount of seasoning (humor, pathos, empathy, enthusiasm). Cook it for precisely the right amount of time (don’t rush the story, but don’t overthink it, either). Let it rest (step away for a while before you make a final edit). Serve it to your eager guests (deliver your marketing message to the right, receptive audience).
Approach your writing with the precision and passion of a grill master and you’ll be able to dish up a great read every time. Skimp on any ingredient in the process, and you’ll end up serving your audience a big, greasy slab of stupid.
Now which do you think Paul would have preferred?