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Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurst has four rules for you to follow.
September 8, 2015
Clear, concise, correct marketing statements that explain the science behind your products should read like a haiku: a few balanced sentences that take weeks to create but only seconds to read. General good writing principles are important for developing scientific marketing statements:
1. Remove prepositional phrases, excess words and redundant details. Many scientific papers are written in a wordy manner, but this is due to poor editing, or requirements by the journal (or the field at large) to “hedge” research conclusions. Under no circumstances should such statements be copied verbatim. Consider: “This product, which is brand new to the market, is derived from an extract made from the fruit of a tropical tree that grows in the Amazonian rainforest of Brazil, and has been shown in prospective studies to significantly reduce pain and inflammation in a majority of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients.” Now consider: “This rainforest tree extract reduces arthritis joint pain.” The first version not only puts the reader to sleep, but also has an uncertain, unprofessional tone. If two scientists debating made these respective statements, which one would you perceive is more intelligent, creative, or correct? If you don’t have scientific staff that can distill the essence of concepts, you need to find some!
2. A picture is worth 1,000 words. In addition to the concise statement above, an outline map of Brazil with an inset photo of the tree in its native environment is both visually pleasing and instantaneously informative. People retain simple images far better than words, so if you put the
same image on your shelf labels, consumers will more easily locate your product.
3. Utilize references and footnotes judiciously; more are not better. Unless a research paper is an extended topic review over decades, reference lists over ~60 signals the conclusions are weak and researchers lack confidence. Everybody knows that each paper cited contains its own reference list, so quality research papers use only recent, relevant papers that the authors are familiar with. Yet I see 10 to 20 references used in advertising, and magazines (such as one that will remain nameless) present four-page articles with 125 to 200 references. Not even an expert is familiar with this much literature. Reference overkill smacks of “abstract surfing” and pseudointellectualism and does not instill confidence in prospective customers. It’s better to summarize a few interesting and supportive research studies in a single concise paragraph. Refer readers to web sites or specialty literature for more details and supporting information.
4. Last but never least, double-check spelling, capitalization, and usage of scientific and technical terms. In my experience, 25 percent of labels and advertising for natural products contain inexcusable basic errors.
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