Concrete Vs Abstract Descriptions
By Carlos Luis Delgado
Open strong. Use descriptive language. Be engaging.
As a copywriter, these maxims fill my belly with white-hot anxiety. I often begin writing by whispering the same question to myself: “How do I reach these customers?”
The blank screen and blinking cursor only serve as a mocking reminder of my challenge: writing copy that keeps ears perked and heads nodding in agreement.
Yes, I think I will save hours and hundreds of dollars on my chimney cleaning this November with Chim-Chim Cheroo Chimney Chweepers.
When it comes to copywriting, you only have a few seconds to grab a customer’s attention. Once captured, that’s when you convince them to lease a new Nissan Bandito, drink a refreshing can of Crystal Tab, or contract their local, affordable, and offensively alliterative chimney sweeps.
In school, we learned grammar and punctuation. But what of engaging writing? Did we learn how to captivate customers who were not paid to pass their tired eyes over our countless essays and term papers? I certainly didn’t.
So, how do we go about this? First, imagine a dog. I’ll wait.
What kind of dog did you see? Was it small or large? A puppy or an adult? I imagined an old basset hound. How about you?
Concrete descriptions are easier for customers to visualize and offer solid, tangible images they can grasp onto. This is engagement! Whether it be fiction, poetry, or advertising, concrete details hook customers.
Example: Soothe your tired bones and aching muscles with a Swedish deep-tissue massage or three-hour spa treatment at Unique Therapeutic Massage and Spa.
Alternatively, abstract descriptions tend toward vagueness and struggle to evoke lasting images.
Example: Treat yourself to a relaxing massage or spa treatment at Unique Therapeutic Massage and Spa.
However, abstract descriptions serve as a sort of shorthand, once you’ve hooked customers. This shorthand is also important. Why?
You may have noticed that as you go down the Pyramid of Abstraction, your word count goes up. That‘s the trade-off. Rich and vivid details that paint a portrait in the minds of customers also have the nasty consequence of plumping up your word count, fast.
It’s all about balance.
As a general rule, open your copy with concrete descriptions to engage customers. Then, switch over to abstract language when communicating prices, concepts, facts, and figures. But not too much or you run the risk of losing their attention. Switch back to concrete if the copy feels too bland or reads like an infomercial. Remember, balance.
Example: Soothe your tired bones and aching muscles with a Swedish deep-tissue massage or three-hour spa treatment at Unique Therapeutic Massage and Spa. Just in time for the holidays, treat your loved ones, or yourself, to an unforgettable spa day. Is there a better gift than the gift of relaxation?
Notice how this example opens with concrete imagery and then switched to vague concepts such as loved ones, holidays, and unforgettable. All of these are open to interpretation, based on the customer.
Mastering this dance between concrete and abstract will take practice, but the rewards are immediate and noticeable.
Open like a powerlifter. Use razor-sharp descriptions. Be as engaging as a diamond ring.
We hope these tips help take your copywriting to the next level!
If you think you’ve got what it takes to write professionally, apply to be a copywriter for Write Label. Write Label is the world’s leading writing platform, offering clients fast, efficient, crowdsourced creative writing solutions.