I feel your pain.
You work in an interesting industry. Perhaps the industrial manufacturing or industrial safety fields.
And on top of that, you have an amazing product. Why, if companies bought it, it could give them a great return on their investment. It might have the potential to change, even save, people’s lives.
I hear you.
If that sucker sold, it would devastate you. You might get employee of the month. Pats on the back and other accolades would abound. Even worse, you might get a raise!
Who needs that kind of pressure, right?
But, sometimes prospects do get excited and become customers.
I’m here to help prevent that. Good content marketing is the likely offender. It draws in people, causing them to know, like, and trust you. It forces you into the unsavory role of “likeable expert.”
I’m going to coach you in the nuances of boring copy and tedious content. There’s a lot of it out there. But, much of it is haphazardly written. It’s bad… but not really bad.
What follows are explicit instructions on how to write excruciatingly mind-numbing content, no matter how interesting your industry or product.
We’ll start with your tone or voice.
Never, ever write conversationally
That’s almost a cardinal sin if you desire boring content.
I’ve seen a movement of late that promotes this conversational writing. When reading it, the prospect gets the feeling you’re talking directly to him.
A dialog… not a soliloquy.
A dialog so personal that the prospect might actually become a customer, giving you access to his wallet. Happily. And with a smile on his face!
The very thing we’re trying to avoid, right?
Here’s a tip. Close your eyes and think back to your college days. Remember that one professor whose monotonous lectures put half the auditorium into a fitful sleep?
While the other half slipped into a coma?
That’s the voice and tone to emulate. Boring prose that oozes like an oily sludge, mucking up everything in its path. Voila… do that and you’re on your way to boredom.
A few other quick tips:
- Don’t use contractions… much too casual sounding.
- Always write in the third-person. Content written in the first- or second-person engages the reader. Makes her a part of it. I avoid it at all costs. You should, too.
- Always remember… jargon is your friend. And the more obscure or technical, the better. Simple, easy to understand writing won’t confound your reader. And even worse, you can’t show off your massive intellect.
- Never use storytelling in your content. Stories illustrate your message, making it understandable and enjoyable. Not good for boring content at all. Why, I remember this one company I wrote for that… uh, never mind.
That’s a good start and should keep you busy. But, I do want to pull back the curtain on one of my top-secret weapons.
Avoid all clichés like the plague! Now, this will confuse many of those so-called compelling copy pundits. They’ll often tell you the same.
But, keep this under your hat. Certain phrases become cliché because they make a hard concept easy to understand. They’ve weathered the storm and stood the test of time.
Their downside is that they paint a clear picture in your reader’s mind. When he reads it, he suddenly gets it.
It’s like someone flipped a switch and the light came on. If you want truly boring content, give clichés a wide berth.
For example, “burning the candle at both ends” vividly conveys the picture of someone working so much that burnout is imminent. It would be much more boring if you say, “Bob puts in so many hours every day of every week that he will soon reach the point of exhaustion where he can no longer function optimally.”
See? Really boring and really long.
They may sound cool… but, clichés are really Trojan horses.
Formatting tips to take even exciting content and suck the life out of it…
like a vacuum cleaner.
Formatting tips to ensure formidable content
These tips are so powerful, I was almost afraid to divulge them. You can even take that compelling stuff and make it fall flat as a pancake.
First tip: Remove as many paragraph breaks as possible. The goal is to make the content look like one big mass of text. Most people will take one look and run for the hills.
I know I do.
A thousand words with plenty of white space looks easy, even inviting to read. So, to maximize the boring effect, eliminate as much of it as possible. Shrink the line spacing and font size if you have that option. You know… magnifying glass size.
It’s more fun than you can ever imagine.
Oh, here’s a good one. Whenever you come to a period, delete it, inserting “and.” You can string several already prodigious sentences into one that stretches far down the page.
Rule of thumb: Read the sentence aloud. If you can complete it without taking a breath… it’s not long enough. Or, have someone else read it and see if their eyes glaze over.
Write to drive away scanners
I’ve heard that folks on the web are scanners. They like to get a quick overview of what’s in an article before they commit to reading. To make your content “un-scannable,” try this.
Do not use any kind of text “decoration” that draws attention to key words, concepts, or phrases. Keep the reader guessing. Make them work for it.
For example, there is one effective way to really make a point: using italics emphasizes the part of the sentence that you really want to drive home.
See what I mean?
If you must use this “window dressing” in your content, then I recommend using a lot of it.
Overloading the prose with bold, italic or underline formatting has the exact opposite effect. Opposite, because when everything is emphasized… then nothing is emphasized. Combining several really blows it out of the water!
Pretty nifty, huh.
Another tactic… don’t use subheads. They act as sign posts, showing the scanner where your article is headed. Not a good practice if you want really mind-numbing content.
I used them here to guide you. You, however, should not.
Never use bulleted points or numbered lists
This one is so important, it needed its own space. Because readers are so busy — finding all that useful, relevant information — they love it when these two scoundrels are used. Lists are dangerously effective. So be forewarned. Bullets kill boring copy because:
- When used at the top of the article, they provide an outline.
- When employed in the body copy, they often emphasize important stuff.
- When used at the end, they reinforce what has been elaborated on.
- So, avoid bulleted or numbered lists… yeah… like the plague.
Now read this last section carefully. It’s vital to writing boring content for an interesting industry or amazing product.
Important, because it shines the spotlight where it really belongs…
Squarely on you.
Always remember. It’s never about them. It’s all about YOU!
I’ve seen a disturbing trend in content marketing lately.
For some unknown reason, benefits are taking priority over features! At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But, time and again, I see this appalling trend taking root.
(Thankfully, it hasn’t poisoned all the good, boring content.)
These forlorn, misguided souls are actually writing content to benefit the reader. As if the reader was the reason for the copy and content. As if the content was written to actually inform and instruct them.
To be of value… to them!
Should you read some of this customer-focused content and find it so appealing that you consider using it, do this first.
Sit on your butt in the middle of the floor, assume the lotus position, and chant:
It’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all about me
Repeat until the feeling passes and you regain your senses. Someday, you’ll thank me.
To combat this urge to write useful, non-boring content, perform this exercise.
Take out a sheet of paper and a pencil, and draw a vertical line down the middle. (I realize that you could to this on your computer. But, the physical elements seem to reinforce the outcome better. Just do it, ok?)
Now at the top of the left column, write “Best features” and underline it. Then, on the right side, write “Why” and underline it as well.
See where we’re going with this yet?
Now, begin listing all the features you can think of. Don’t worry if they’re trivial. Triviality rocks. On the right side, list why the feature was included.
Feature – our product is orange. Why – that’s all the paint we had and the hardware store was closed.
Continue until you’ve listed all the features, and then start writing.
I’m trying to save you the agony of discovering the real benefit. It’s exhausting.
I’ve spent many an hour, often late into the night, listing a feature and then drilling down until I found its CEB (Core Emotional Benefit). For hours on end, I’ve asked the question, “So what?” in order to get to the real “bottom-line benefit.”
Then, it was lather, rinse, repeat on the next feature/benefit combo.
Like I said… it’s exhausting. Once you complete this exercise, you’ll love me.
One final strategy – lie truthfully… sort of
Honestly, sometimes you might need to lie a little in your copy. I know we’re shooting for boring. But, a little well-crafted fibbing never hurts.
Here’s a good one I see used quite often.
“With our five-member team, we have over 10 years’ experience!”
C’mon. No, you don’t.
You maybe have four guys with 2 years of experience, and one with 2 and a half. In other words, your team has 2 years of experience. That’s all.
But, fibbing a little has an extra benefit. When you can write content that is boring and also untrue, you’ve hit the jackpot. Little white lies… rock!
Don’t worry. They’ll probably never catch the falsehood… well, maybe not.
There are other tips, but this should get you well on your way to creating boring content, not just for interesting industries, but for any industry. Strive for mediocrity and beyond.
Or… is that “behind?”
I’ve read some really boring content that was so impressive, I had to call the company and congratulate them!
Right after I awakened from my coma, of course.
Who knows… maybe your boring copy will win a place on my Wall of Snooze-worthy Content.
One can only dream…
Wishing you all the best of mediocre success,
P.S. You might have noticed I broke all my own rules for this article. That’s because it’s so important, I wanted it to be clear and understandable. Perhaps even enjoyable. However, if boring content is your goal, then do as said…
Not as I did.
I really find it easier to write compelling content than boring drivel in the industrial manufacturing markets. Mechanical, electrical, and safety topics make my heart sing. I have over 30 years’ experience with those fields. (And, since I’m just one guy, that’s actually 30 years plus.)
If you need copy and marketing content that actually engages prospects, give me a ring at +1 479.304.1086 or email me at email@example.com .
I’m more than willing to study your product — deep into the night if necessary — to discover the core emotional benefits that will compel them to do business…
Warning — little white lies will not be included.
Article written by Steve Maurer – Steve Maurer Freelance Writing
(originally posted on my LinkedIn profile)
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at +1 (479) 304-0451. My contact form is here.
Mailing address: Steve Maurer
3000 West Anne Street
Fayetteville, AR (Arkansas) 72704
United States of America
TONY K BOATRIGHT says
Incredible idea and awesome article! You continue to clear the sky of competition.
Any doubts about my skills not needing major improvements were just shot down. In the immortal words of Snoopy, “Curse you Red Baron!” I will keep working to reach your skill level.
Steve Maurer says
Thanks, Tony! It was great to meet you last year. Keep on, my friend. Keep on!
Great article Steve. Love your creativity!
I love your humor 🙂 thanks!
Charity Haynes says
That was awesome! You had me rolling on the couch, my dog thought there was something wrong with me.
Joseph Battrick says
Loved this. The content is very entertaining, especially from an “insider’s” point of view. Curious to see how well it works as a marketing tool. Will you report on how much business it generates for you?
Diane O'Connell says
Steve I laughed a few times while reading your article! Not an easy feat, as i just woke up and am still sipping coffee. What a brilliant way to hit home crucial points!