The Levison Letter

Let's get fresh!


February, 2010

Have you seen the latest TV commercial for Sizzler?

The chef stands behind some great-looking steaks and tells us that they're all "grilled to perfection."

In my opinion, the advertising copywriter who wrote that spot stopped thinking and went on autopilot. You see, "grilled to perfection" is a cliché we've heard a thousand times and it should never have found a way into the commercial. The copywriter was paid to come up with something fresh - not a retread.

Or what about the other food-related cliché that's recycled in just about every other food ad: " It's a delicate blend of herbs and spices." (How come it's never a delicate blend of spices and herbs?)

The reason that clichés are used so frequently is that they make the copywriter's life a whole lot easier. You don't have to think. You just plug in the familiar module, punch the time clock, and go home.

Of course, flabby writing turns readers off and ultimately cuts response rates. That's why you should make sure all your marketing copy is fresh, tight, and brimming with personality.

This is particularly important in high tech where it's incredibly easy to use jargon and omit the real benefits.

For instance, how many times have you seen:

We'll help you increase productivity.


We offer a scalable solution.


Our product is incredibly easy to use.


Our interface is extremely intuitive.

Been there. Done that.

It would be a lot better to really dig in and explain the benefits, rather than rely on clichés that we've all seen countless times. In fact, you should always be on the lookout for ways to say things in a new or better way.

Let me give you an example. Some time ago I was writing a direct mail package for Hewlett-Packard. On the Response Card, HP wanted to ask a bunch of qualifying questions. The terse little line they had been using to set up the question module was, logically enough:

"Answer the following questions."

To me, that had a pushy quality about it. Abrupt. Cold. Instead, I substituted the following lines:

"We'd like to get to know you better.

Please take just a moment and answer the following
questions. It would really help us meet your needs better
in the future. Thank you!"

Sure this is no big deal. We're talking about a few words on the Response Card, not King Lear. What I'm trying to illustrate is that you can always give things a little personality, avoid cliches, and connect with your reader. It takes some work and a little thought, but it's well worth the effort!


If you want to start connecting with your prospects, give me a ring and let's talk about how I can do some copywriting for you. My fees are affordable and my letters, email, Web copy, etc. get results. CLICK HERE for proof! Want to see all the books on Amazon that quote me? CLICK HERE.


How to get in touch . . .
Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
Visit my Web site


Ivan Levison. Direct Mail, Email & Advertising Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive, Greenbrae, CA 94904
Phone (415) 461-0672      Fax: (415) 461-7738

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