Bigger is rarely better in content marketing

Giant Pumpkins! by abbynormy, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  abbynormy 

Look at this pumpkin. Impressive? Everyone loves a really giant pumpkin. But there’s no way I’m taking it home to make pies with it. It’s too much work, and the pies won’t taste good.

The same applies to really verbose white papers with lengthy sentences. We might be impressed by the mass of writing and the dedication of the writer. But reading it through, end to end, is too much work. And it’s even less likely that we’ll take away actionable information from it to share with others.

This follow-on to my last post about shortening web copy was inspired by editing a white paper for a client. The paper was so full of complex sentences that even the reviewers couldn’t make themselves get through it.

I often write in long, complex sentences – apparently I think in layered clauses. But few of these sentences survive my editing for white papers, articles or other content marketing collateral. Next time you’re tempted to write in really long sentences, think of the Great Pumpkin. And start carving up those sentences.

4 Comments on “Bigger is rarely better in content marketing

  1. Claire – I still write many ‘papers’ but their format, style and approach has shifted dramatically in recent years. They are shorter papers with more focused, consumable information. I think there’s still a role for this kind of reading – at least in B2B technology, where things are often more complex than 140 characters!

    • I write those darn papers for technology companies, too. I just don’t like them as much! But you’re right, the content is now more thoughtfully organized and has more shorter, easily consumable sections.

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