Tempting isn’t it… You’ve written your copy, but feel it needs a little bit more. A bit more passion, enthusiasm… a bit more oomph. There’s a character designed for that.
You know him as !
The bold and bright exclamation mark. But should you hit that key? Watch the video or read the article below to find out.
Why the exclamation mark is a lazy marketer’s tool
The definition of an exclamation mark is:
“A punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting)” – source: Wikipedia
Now copywriting is all about stirring strong feelings in your reader, so it seems like the perfect fit right? Pepper your copy with these and you should bowl people over…
No, of course not.
An important distinction to remember is that an exclamation mark can only add emphasis to a sentence, it can’t add substance.
[Tweet “Marketing: exclamation marks add emphasis, not substance. Weak copy can’t be fixed with !!!”]
Finally a product that is amazing and new
Cannot be fixed or improved by this:
Finally a product that is amazing and new!
Weak copy spoken loudly is still weak (99 x 0 is still 0)
Using exclamation marks in your copy should be a rare thing because your customer needs to get excited or motivated by the substance of your words. If they don’t, an exclamation mark won’t change this.
Even if you sprinkled cheese (which I love) on fried liver (which I hate) I would not eat the liver. The topping is just that. It’s unable to change the core essence of the liver into something more palatable.
Now if you took that liver and turned it into paté, I would absolutely devour it on a tasty crusty baguette. Stay with me, I’m not just listing foods here.
The difference is that the substance has changed, it’s transformed into something I can get excited about without any tempting cheese to sway me.
That’s what you need to do with your copy, focus on the substance.
Powerful copy is vivid, clear and targeted
Think about movie villains, or antagonists. The scary ones aren’t necessarily those that scream and shout. Often the most sinister performances are those that calmly articulated situations that would cause the most fear in their victims.
Think Hannibal Lecter as he gets under Clarice Starling’s skin. Did he need to shout? No, he just needed to know enough about Clarice to mention the things he knew would stick. Those screaming lambs for example…
It always comes back to knowing your audience and the next time you’re tempted to use an exclamation mark you need to ask yourself:
“Why is this copy exciting to my customer?”
I don’t doubt that your product or service is amazing, but I want to know why.
Say for example you have developed the world’s most comfortable socks.
Try our new comfortable socks!
You’re excited about the impact of the socks on your customer, hence the exclamation mark. But let’s dig deeper. Why is this so exciting to your customer? You might say to me:
Well, they’re a runner so we’ve reinforced areas to give comfort to places that work the hardest and they’ve got a double layer which helps the skin breathe and reduces blisters.
Blisters are to runners what screaming lambs are to Clarice, so let’s see how we can make the copy have more impact while speaking calmly to our reader:
Run fast, hard and blister free with our ultra-comfort socks. Support cushioning for your heel, toe and arch and a ‘twin skin’ to manage moisture and eliminate blisters.
No exclamation mark needed. Any runner who has experienced socks that rub, chafe and make you weep will listen.
Sound authoritative, not unhinged
The other problem with exclamation marks is how they make you sound in your reader’s head. Instead of sounding passionate and enthusiastic, your written tone-of-voice can seem unhinged.
This is why their impact lies in being used sparingly, if at all. Now it may be that your tone-of-voice allows for some excitement. If you have a young or lively audience for example. Most other businesses could do to lose a few or even eliminate the exclamation mark and instead spend time getting to know what information is going to get a customer excited.
I’d love to know your thoughts. Are you for or against? How do you feel when you see an exclamation mark in marketing copy?
Sorry, that probably sounded a little lack-lustre.
I’ve love to know your thoughts! Are you for or against!? How do you feel when you see an exclamation mark in marketing copy!?
Let me know in the comments below.