Mark Twain on “brevity” and why your marketing copy probably stinks

Earlier this year I wrote a piece on office productivity, “My 5 tips for success in the office” for The cornerstone to the article was my admiration of Mark Twain’s take on getting the hard stuff done.

This week I want to share another one of Twain’s quotes that I admire greatly:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

How on point is this quote when applied to today’s agile marketing organizations?

How many times have we ended up creating long winded marketing pieces or blog posts because we’ve struggled to truly and eloquently communicate our points? So we babble on and on with the hope that eventually we’ll get to where we need to go, or we’ll include enough buzz words to cover every possible angle?

Being long winded is a bad habit. Don’t confused that with being chatty or an extrovert though. Being long winded is a result of being unable to effectively communicate in a succinct manner. In other words, marketers often have a hard time of getting to the damn point.

Hopefully you understand my point by now. BREVITY!

The more eloquently and succinctly you can convey your marketing message, the more likely your audience will engage with you and understand your message. But striking the balance between being too succinct and too long is a challenge most marketers have yet to master.

The same goes for presentations, emails and conference calls. Be brief instead of long-winded. It’s more difficult to communicate in this manner and takes a great deal of focus. The end result is that you will come across as more eloquent.

In Ocean’s Eleven (one of my favorite movies), Russ (played by Brad Pitt) is prepping Linus (Matt Damon) for a con. Rus says, “Don’t use seven words when four will do.” in explaining to Linus that he needs to be brief.

I use this modern adaptation of Twain’s quote regularly when working with my marketing group to eloquently communicate how important it is to be brief.

So, next time you find  yourself writing marketing copy, a presentation or even conducting a meeting. Think of Mark Twain and focus on delivering your message succinctly. Your audience will thank you.