I’m an advertising guy… a copywriter from way back. We’re not nit-pickers when it comes to grammatical details like sentence structure and punctuation in advertising. (Got Milk?) But there’s one thing we all know: the fastest, easiest way to get better ad copy is to delete all those ridiculous exclamation marks.
Someone has to speak out about all the poor use of punctuation. If I see one more marketing cliche or list of features punctuated with three of these !!! I’m going to scream.
Exclamation points are everywhere these days — in social media posts, on home pages, in emails, ad copy, and even in straight-forward product descriptions.
“All natural! Gluten-free! GMO-free! Vegan!!!”
The more exclamation points, the less believable it is.
Yelling never works, and that’s the effect of all the exclamation points. Like a hyped-up used car salesman, in your face…”Seating for four! Steering wheel! Brakes! Air bags!”
Putting exclamation points on your list of standard features is not going to make them more compelling.
Give me a break. (See how I did NOT use an exclamation point right there. I could have said, “Give me a break!”)
Nothing says desperate, amateur writer faster than a bunch of exclamation points at the end of a sentence…
You’ll love the new John Deere riding mowers!
The longest, straightest driver ever!
Better comfort! Better feel! Better performance!
Your whole family will love it!!!
Really? Those punctuation marks transform simple statements of fact into boisterous, unbelievable claims. It’s just not a normal tone of voice, and it’s going to affect your credibility.
If you want better ad copy, just shut up and use a period. Periods are the best form of punctuation for advertising. Exclamation points are the worst.
In business communications, credibility is critical. Your message needs to sound believable, professional, sensible. When you add the exclamation mark it sounds like your pants are on fire. All credibility is lost in a single keystroke.
Be understated instead.
Here’s a good rule of thumb for anything you write: If you have to use an exclamation mark, you’re not using the right words. Go back to the well. Find words that punctuate the point in a dramatic fashion so you don’t need the extra punctuation.
You can add excitement and immediacy to your advertising copy and social media posts without adding exclamation points. Or worse yet — emojis.
Just try saying something meaningful. Different. And honest.
Start with a value proposition that holds water and resonates with your target audience. Then write micro-scripts that cement that idea in their minds. Test the microscripts on real people. Get a second opinion and don’t be afraid to re-write. You have to be patient and persistent if you want copy that really sells.
I’ve never seen a great headline with an exclamation mark after it. Ever. If it feels like your headline needs an exclamation mark, throw out the whole thing and start over. Try crafting a headline that is relevant and intriguing on its own, without all the grade school punctuation.
It’s not easy. If you need help writing better ad copy, call me. Or if you want more info on how to improve your advertising copy, click here.