Thursday, February 14, 2013

A toast to chocolate, scanners and readers

Since it's Valentine's Day it's appropriate that I should write a brief post about the word chocolate.

Chocolate happens to be one of my favorite words because of the way it rolls off my tongue. The sounds tumble out as they do when I say a couple of my other favorite words ... verisimilitude and synchronicity.  The only problem with all three of these words is that they have multiple syllables. 

As a writer, I know that multi-syllabic words are difficult to scan.  And since most writers of copy and content write first for scanners, then for readers ... we limit our use of words with more than one syllable.  Yup.  When you only have a few seconds to snag some one's attention online or in print, it's best to keep words, sentences and paragraphs short and easy to scan.  We call it reeling in the reader.

I was reminded of this today as I wrote a lead generation letter targeting people of high net worth. Yes, these people are financially successful and probably well educated, but they're also busy.  And if I'm fortunate enough to get them to open my envelope and take a glance at my letter, I'd better make it easy for them to pick out the most important points that compel them to call or use the PURL to get more information.  In the process, they may or may not read every word I write.  So I'd better be darn sure their scanning eyes pick out the most powerful words and benefits.  Writing is about more than the words you choose to use ... it's also about how and where you use them.

But back to the word chocolate.  According to Wikipedia, chocolate was first enjoyed as a drink.  Maybe even the ingredient in an alcoholic drink.  Around 1100-1400 BC.  Just more reason to love the word chocolate and the deliciousness it represents.  Cheers and Happy Valentine's Day!    

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