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  • Joel Alpert

SHUT UP! A Key Marketing Communication Tip On Copywriting: Know When To Stop!




Know What To Say, And When To Stop! This Copywriting Is About A Pair Of Socks !

I’m usually not inspired or rankled by a pair of new socks.

So when I bought of bunch of Gold Toe socks at the outlet mall last week on the tail end of a road trip, I didn’t expect to want to talk back to the little gold tag and say “Shut up!” But I actually did. I said "Shut Up!" out loud.

The rankle with these ankle-covers was in the little gold tag, attached. It said the right thing, but didn’t stop when it was ahead.

In addition to the expected description of the constituency of said socks — “Combed Cotton”…”Freshcare® Moisture Control”…..and “Reinforced Toe" — the sock sell said: “Gold Toe® has been the gold standard of quality for generations.”

I agree. No problem.

“One look, one touch, one wear gives you all the confidence you need that Gold Toe® is the brand for you.”

Okay. I now have the confidence I previously lacked, I now know this is the brand for me. But I have to tell you, any character flaw that I might have, or not, won’t be based on this pair of socks. Yes, you wear them, and they’re good socks. But we could really skip the confidence thing, and not wax poetic, or wax my legs. Really, let’s skip it.

But the little gold tag goes further (gasp!) — beyond ”Comfortable, consistent, and durable” (which they are). The copy continues:

“Gold Toe® is for people who know who they are and know what they like.”

Um, yes…I like a good pair of socks. But I wasn’t getting any clarity about my identity from these socks. When copy getteth so pompous, it swelleth to ankle-chain proportions.

As a marketing guy, I’ve written only rarely with a "grandiose copy style," once whilst I was romanticizing the prize of a trip to Hawaii, for a Kimberly-Clark sales incentive program. I’ll submit that painting a picture of this extraordinarily beautiful and relaxing place for harried sales producers worked in that instance. That was about Hawaii. This is about socks! In most cases, clear, simple, conversational straight talk beats marketing babble.

Additionally, “verisimilitude” is a key concept for successful marketing communication


The seminal direct response copywriter Herschel Gordon-Lewis introduced this concept in his brilliant lectures years ago. Your copy needs to have “the appearance of truth.” So even if it’s true, if it sounds bloated or BS-y, it’s going to be a turn-off. And that’s not why you’re writing copy, whether it’s creative, strategic, or editorial style.

So let’s keep our copywriting conversational. And straightforward. Know when to stop, and not over-gild the lily.


Otherwise, your prospect will think you’re stepping on their toes! Ouch! P.S. — The socks are really quite excellent. I’ve had Gold Toe socks that show little wear, even after 8-10 years. They’re made well and stand the test of time. They’re a shoe-in.


---------------------------------- Joel Alpert is a Branding and Marketing Wizard, who has worked with very big and very small companies on Branding, practical Business Strategy, and award-winning Copywriting and Creative Direction.

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