The Art of Mincing

Early in my career, having already established a strength in copywriting, I was taken aside by a veteran ad director and asked if I knew how to identify the strongest selling words. I already knew that words like “Free,” “Announcing,” and “New” were powerful, but this gentleman had something else in mind as he relayed the story about fish.

Now, this is not an original story and I’ve actually seen other writers relay it, but it’s an excellent example and if I knew the source, I would credit that person. The situation was explained to me like this:

There was a store selling seafood and the sign at the counter read “Fresh fish on sale here today.” There was nothing wrong with the message, but it was wordy. The ad director proceeded to whip out his pen and cross out the words “here today” because clearly, we knew where we were and what day it was.

He then crossed out the word “fish” because we could see what they were selling… and since the fish was priced and offered for purchase, there was no need to say “on sale.”

So, the key word became “Fresh.” It described the fish, it implied today, and it appealed to our senses.

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