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The goal of editing is to polish our sales pitch so that it expresses exactly what we’re trying to express in the
least number of fewest words.
Every word in our sales pitch is either taking the user one step closer to the sale or a step away. This is what makes editing so damn important.
Editing Matters Because Users Have Limited Attention Spans
Online shoppers are inundated with marketing pitches. They can’t cope and their attention spans have been compromised.
In 2019, advertisers spent $134.81 billion on Google (source). Up 15% from the previous year. This ad budget is competing for the $20,000 in annual discretionary spending for American families making $78,635/year (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
As a marketer, this is what I’m up against. This is my competition.
If we were living in a world where the shopper was seeing our sales pitch first thing in the morning it would be so much easier to sell because the buyer would be rested and able to give us her full attention. Unfortunately, by the time buyers get to us they’ve already had to deal with a whole bunch of crap (life). They’re exhausted and disillusioned.
Keep this mental image in mind as you edit your copy.
Weakest Link Breaks the Attention Chain
Copywriting is like casting a spell.
She may be seduced by the first 3 paragraphs of our sales pitch but if the opening of para 4 is weak, the spell will break. Once broken it’s hard to get the magic back and it’s likely the user will exit the site. And once she exits, statistically, it’s unlikely she’ll be back. We have only this one shot.
Editing doesn’t just help the final draft. The existence of the editing bucket also helps the creation of the first draft. It creates a safety net and frees the writer to pour their heart out in the first draft. It unburdens me from worrying about the final version while I’m untangling the first draft. And this facilitates the exploration of new, sometimes surprisingly good, ideas.
Without editing, I have nothing.
There are a number of things you can do to edit your sales pitch and make it more effective:
- Rearrange sections to improve flow.
- Cut out words that don’t really add to the pitch.
- Switch words with ones that offer a bigger punch. In this case, instead of saying offer a bigger punch one could say pack more punch.
- It can even mean adding new content to improve overall flow.
- The tone of voice.
One More Thing: Let It Marinate
A useful editing strategy is to create a time gap between editing exercises. If I’m editing and reach the limits of my attention -or- a point where I think it looks reasonably good I stop and revisit the next day. Reviewing with a fresh pair of eyes leads to completely new insights.
The Science Behind This 24 Hour Gap
It has everything to do with REM sleep. Dr. Ullrich Wagner at the University of Lubeck conducted a clever A/B test. He selected students and divided them into two groups (A and B). Both groups were given intense number string puzzles. What the researchers didn’t reveal was that the were shortcuts to solving the puzzle– discovering the shortcut would dramatically ease the exercise.
After having the students solve hundreds of such puzzles they were to return twelve hours later to continue the assignment. Group A spent the twelve-hour time delay awake across the day, while for others, that time window included a full eight-hour night of sleep.
At this point you’ve already guessed what happened: in group A 20% were able to discover the shortcut whereas in group B nearly 60% found the hidden cheat code.
I got this delightful story from the exceptional book Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker.
This 24-hour gap method can do wonders for your final sales pitch.
Now that we appreciate the awesome power of editing and have constructed a bloody good long-form sales pitch just one question remains: are people reading it and nodding their heads in agreement? That’s covered here.