Direct Marketing Copywriters in Ireland Take Heed – Why You Should Keep Your Message Simple

Direct marketing copywriters and advertising copywriters who depend on the written word to sell their clients’ products or services, take heed. An ERSI study conducted by the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) has shown that aa many as 55% of adults in Ireland are below Level 3 literacy, the minimal level of literacy “necessary for the demands of modern society”. This means that the majority of people in Ireland may be unable to read direct marketing text that is in any way complex or not laid out in a clear, straightforward manner. This doesn’t just mean that they may not get all the subtleties and complex details of written direct marketing promotional material and communications like these, this means that they may not understand direct marketing offers at all!

Of those surveyed, 25% are at what is called Level 1 literacy. This means very low literacy skills, where even short, simple instructions can’t be understood easily. Another 30% of people are at Level 2. At this level they can follow step by step instructions and basic prose but anything more complicated gives them difficulty. These are the people who adopted just enough literacy skills to get them through day to day life but could have difficulty with complex sentences or text and writing styles that they are not used to, including direct marketing buzz words and jargon.

It’s important to understand that people in these groups are certainly not stupid; a variety of reasons could be behind their poor reading ability. Often it can be as simple as bad eyesight or hearing difficulties. In other cases it could be due to sporadic school attendance or a lack of money for textbooks and materials. Whatever the reason people in this category are the majority in Ireland so direct marketing copywriters better take their needs into account when writing!

So what can be done? How can a direct marketing copywriter ensure that their words can be understood by the widest possible audience in Ireland? Well really the best thing to keep it simple. Short, snappy sentences work best, both to make the direct marketing message clear and to keep people interested. This is not only relevant to people at lower literacy levels but for everyone in Ireland.

Long drawn-out sentences can bore the average direct mail reader, even if they understand what you’re saying, and might make them skip on to something else, especially if they’re only marginally interested in your offer in the first place.

Titles in marketing brochures are especially in need of this kind of treatment. A title sets the tone for the piece and mentally prepares the reader for what’s to come. If a title is confusing or irrelevant then the reader may be bewildered when reading the marketing offer, wondering what exactly they are reading and how the product/service on offer relates to them.

Wonderfully clever, pun-filled titles, so loved by marketing copywriters in Ireland, may be great for the readers who actually get it but for the rest it’s just another source of frustration. Keep your direct marketing message in Ireland simple and keep it loud, that way everybody knows what you are saying and your message has the widest reach.

Literacy skills are not just about reading prose however; many people in Ireland have difficulty reading more technical information such as forms, diagrams and tables. Others have difficulties with basic numeracy skills such as adding figures or understanding percentages.

Finally, relevance is also a key to people understanding your direct marketing offer. The average Irish reader assumes that all information provided to them in a direct marketing offer is important. Going off on a tangent into another unrelated or unimportant topic for a short while is likely to cause great problems. People reading it will wonder how this connects with what they have read previously and are liable to become confused as to what you are trying to sell them.

This applies not only to text but to diagrams and pictures in direct marketing material too: if it’s not connected with the promotional message you are trying to give people then it should not be there! It may look very nice and add wonderfully to the feel of the page but if you’re trying to talk about healthcare, for example, and you use a picture of a yacht then your marketing message can get lost along the way.

For direct marketing offers in Ireland the best advice is to keep your message simple and keep it to the point. Short words, short sentences and short paragraphs work best; and remember: if it’s not adding something to the reader’s understanding of your offer then there’s a very good chance it’s taking something away.