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Cut the Fluff: How to Stop Undermining your Content

Whether you're writing copy for your website, your social media platform or corporate brochures - every word counts. But some words are so overused, generic, and totally useless that they’ve become Redundant. Redundant words clutter your content and dilute your message, making it difficult for your audience to understand. They add nothing to your content. They leave your audience with more questions than answers. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Start with an Editing Mindset

Before you write a single word, approach your content with the mindset of an Editor. Your first draft doesn't have to be perfect, but it should serve as a foundation to help you become more critical of your own writing and identify redundant words more easily. 2. Clarity: Get to the Point A well-defined message allows you to stay focused and avoid unnecessary embellishments. Take the time to distill your core message into a concise statement or tagline that encapsulates what you're trying to communicate. Because your readers skim your content looking for What's in it for them, you need to get to the point quickly. Avoid lengthy introductions or tangents. Eliminate any content that doesn't directly support your message. A good way is to figure out the benefits your customer gains from reading your content. Use the So What system.

  • Write your sentence - then ask so what?

  • Rewrite your sentence answering the question and then ask again So What?

3. Brevity: Be Concise and Precise Similar to getting to the point another major problem for organisations is the use of what I call Waffle to make them sound more knowledgeable or experienced. Remember less is more when it comes to your customers scanning your text. If you can say it in 2-3 words then ditch the rest.

Avoid using long, complex sentences when a shorter, more straightforward one will do the job. Example: Blah: "Due to the fact that the market is experiencing a downturn, we will need to reduce expenses." Best: "Because the market is down, we must cut expenses." 4. Edit anything that makes you sound generic or cliche You probably think you are "One-of-a-kind" Some might even say "Unique" but the reality is you're not. Words such as "Best" "Leading" "Number 1" are lazy, generic copy. Rather than telling your customer, why not show them. How are you innovative? or What makes your work ground-breaking?

Other words to also stop using:

  • Market-leaders – Which market are you leading?

  • Best – Showcase your awards to prove you’re the best

  • World-class - What countries or cities are you in?

  • State-of-the-art / Cutting-edge – What technology do you use?

  • First-rate – Would anyone ever claim to deliver goods or services that are second-rate?

  • Dynamic Team - Do you mean your teams are up-to-date with the trends and new ideas?

  • Innovative / Revolutionary / Pioneering / Unique- What makes your services stand out from your competitors?

5. Avoid Repetition - Streamline your Phrases

Repetition can be a powerful rhetorical device, but when overused, it becomes redundant and can quickly bore your readers. It also can make your copy spin in circles saying the same thing.

Seek alternatives the trick is to say 1 thing in 100 relatable ways. Example: Blah: "Our new software is fast, efficient, and quick." Best: "Our quick and efficient software works through your lunch break so you don't have to"

6. Stating the obvious When the company thinks you need to put everything on their website try the "I should bloody well hope so" Test This happens when your copy states the blinking obvious ie: "A website that looks nice and works" "Good Customer Service" Ask is this what your customer should expect or is it a bonus. If it's expected then revise your customer benefits (See the So What Test)

Words to scrap:

  • Fast delivery – Tell your Customers when they can expect delivery ie: 24 hours, 2 days

  • Top-quality or quality product – If your product is high quality, explain why. Is it the material? The manufacturing process?

  • Excellent customer service – If your service is excellent, tell readers why. Do you solve all complaints within three hours? Do you have a no-quibble guarantee? Are your opening hours longer than those of your competitor?

Stop padding your sentences with empty phrases. Explain how you make your customer’s life better. Do your services take away their pain? Does it make your reader happier, save time, become more organised, or more relaxed? Remember, when you're trying to catch and keep your audience's attention, less is more, and a well-edited message can make all the difference.

Can I ask a favour - if you're enjoying this please help me spread the word about strategic writing.

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