Purple Papers

Put Some Poetry In Your Marketing

Which of the two phrases below sounds better?

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

“Do not ask your country what it can do for you. Instead, ask yourself what you can do for your country.”

While both phrases convey the same message, most people would agree that the first one does it better than the second. It’s not only shorter and easier to read, it’s easier on the ear. The words have a rhythm that allow them to resonate, connect with the reader (or listener) and become more memorable. Perhaps it’s one reason why John F. Kennedy chose the former phrasing—and not the latter—in his inaugural address. Of all the memorable phrases in that famous speech, it may be the reason why that is the one people remember most.

How you say something is as important as what you say. If content is king, then delivery is its scepter, crown and cape. The most brilliant ideas, prescient insights and important information are all for naught if their presentation is wooden and hackneyed. Dull language, like dull blades, cannot cut through clutter and into the hearts of minds of target audiences.

Given that, why does so much of the language in Medical Marketing have all the power, feeling and interest of a microbiology book?

In their marketing, Medical Institutions and Facilities seek to accomplish a variety of objectives: convey how they benefit their clients, assure clients of their expertise in and knowledge of their industries, impress clients with their experience and success, and show how they are different from every other practice seeking to do the same thing. Most of all, Medical Institutions and Facilities seek to portray themselves as intelligent and competent. As a result, they tend to communicate in both the language of medicine and the language of business.

Funny thing about “business and medicine speak”—they have a habit of expressing things in complicated, convoluted ways that often cause the reader to lose interest. In marketing, that which is difficult or uninteresting to read simply does not get read.

Good writing comes from a combination of good content, clarity (being concise and organized) and style. The medical field is certainly not lacking for good content. Clarity can be achieved through judicious editing. Style, however, is where much of the marketing falls flat, with content often resorting to pedantic prose. It’s unfortunate, because style is what makes the message memorable. What is needed in order to connect with and compel audiences is more poetry and less pedantry.

The structure and rhythm of words can give them greater power and make what is written more memorable. Simply reading aloud what has been written can be tremendously effective in ensuring that medical marketing prose not only flows and communicates accurately in an understandable fashion, but also has resonance and impact.

In the most powerful writing—advertising included—it’s not just the words we remember, but also their rhythm and flow. The choice of words and the order in which they are placed in a sentence can make all the difference. While a word can be absolutely correct as far as its meaning, if it stands in the middle of a sentence like a concrete block on a busy freeway it is nevertheless wrong. Incorporating some of the rules of poetry into your marketing message will not only encourage a precision in language and make the message more readable, it will make it more memorable as well.

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