18 Sep Three concept writing rules to live by
You’ve just received a kickin’ promotion (congratulations!), but now your boss tells you that with the promotion comes the responsibility of writing your brand’s new product concepts for testing next quarter. If you’ve never written anything more complicated than an email or bulleted presentation before the panic is probably starting to set in right about now.
Before you sign up for a quick refresher in English and composition, use these three rules as your guidelines (or hire a professional concept writing company to do it for you!) to write compelling, clear concepts that resonate with your consumers:
- Think before you write. I mean REALLY think. Think about all the ways this new product can be positioned in your target market, fleshing out the possible insights and benefits on which it delivers. Do you have multiple stories to tell? Or is there just one? Thinking through the stories BEFORE you begin writing is the best investment you can make in this project. Don’t be afraid to outline your concept before you begin writing—good strategy and planning makes the writing easier and leads to fewer do-overs. As a general rule of thumb for writing a compelling story and as a great English teacher of mine once said, “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em (introduce your new product), tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you told ’em (wrap up your concept and really drive home the benefits of your new product).”
- Use common language first. Armed with good upfront planning from Step 1, I bet you’re ready to showcase some awesome writing skills using lots of adjectives and flowery language to impress the boss. Don’t do it! Your first shot at writing a good concept should be simply to capture the story you said you were going to tell—in common language. It should be easy to understand and straightforward. If you’re wondering whether your writing is easy to understand or not, there’s a great tool in Microsoft Word to check language called the Flesch-Kinkaid scoring tool. Aim for a Flesch-Kinkaid grade level score of between 7.0–8.0, which corresponds to seventh to eighth grade language. Anything above a 12.0 (12th grade) will miss the mark in communicating your story to the average consumer.
- Keep it short. In a world where Facebook and Twitter posts are the headline news of the day, you just can’t use more than 100 or so words to tell your new product story without losing your consumer. Work hard to select just the right words that get to “stay on the page” because your story simply can’t live without them. Do what we call “combining and collapsing” to eliminate redundant sentences and ideas and make the shorter sentences work hard to get the reader from the beginning to the middle and ultimately to the end of your important story.
If you keep these three tips in mind when tackling that new product concept, you’re set to make the boss happy with clear, compelling concepts that are ready for testing. Plus, you’ll also likely make a few consumers happy by telling them all about your new product idea in an easy to understand way—and the sales will follow!
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Patti Purcell brings 25+ years of journalism and marketing skills together to provide national and international companies with outstanding concept writing services via the company she founded in 2006, Writing by Design, LLC. She and her growing team, based in Wisconsin, have written hundreds of concepts and achieved many successful A.C. Nielsen BASES test scores over the last 10 years using their Crystal Clear™ concept writing methodology.