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Can your copy be understood by a 12 year old?

Can your copy be understood by a 12 year old?

Last week I saw some excellent examples of quality writing. A highly intelligent client presented us with some well crafted words and asked us for list suggestions.

I've now reached the age when I just don't care about being polite and told him not to waste his money with his copy. It could have won an award from Granta, the literary magazine, but stood little chance of selling a bean.

I asked him to find a friend to get him to read the letter then explain it back. When he did that, he was man enough to admit the copy was not good sales copy, as several friends had missed the point of the letter totally.

When I first started writing copy, I received some excellent advice from a mentor of mine, Bob Troop.  He told me to get a 12 year old to read my copy and if they couldn't explain it back accurately then I should rewrite it until they could. Luckily my son Philip was 12 at the time, and he was my copy tester. Not only did it help my copy but something must have rubbed off, as 30 years later he's now our MD here at Hilite.

People just don't have time to try and work out what you mean when you use fancy words and phrases, so the best bet is to get straight to the point, ram home the benefits and keep it simple. Remember you're not trying to show them how intelligent you are, just that you've got a product or service they can't live without.

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