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Attention Spans of a Teenage X-Box Addict on a High Sugar Diet

by Pete Godfrey · 10 comments

Attention Spans of a Teenage X-Box Addict on a High Sugar Diet

The way things are going I reckon in ten or so years, I’ll be writing sales letters in crayon.

Nothing more advanced than grade two level.

This way, I won’t get too clever for the masses. Oh, and don’t forget to do it in 140 characters or less…any more, the old attention span of the audience wanes.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, a little… but the fact is, people are getting dumber. Trust me on this. They’re getting lazier too.

When the copy I’m writing is targeted at the masses, I sometimes find myself writing words that are above the markets’ ability to understand. So I’m ruthless in my second draft. I cut out words and slash phrases like a drunkard pirate swinging his favourite cutlass.

It’s a lesson I was taught right from the start.

Halbert always preached to get a sixth-grader to read your copy. If the kid stumbles somewhere then cut it out. Good lesson to take on board.

Today, it’s even more important. You may think with all this new technology people are getting smarter. What I see around me proves otherwise.

It gets back to the basics of message to market match.

For example: If I’m targeting a more affluent and sophisticated market, I use words and phrases that not only appeal to certain buying hot buttons such as ego and status, but words and phrases they are accustomed to hearing. But even with this market, my second draft is all about clarity… is all about distilling my copy into its most concise and simplest form.

Instant clarity is my aim.

Love to hear your comments.


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About The Author

Copywriter, Sales Strategist - Pete GodfreyPete Godfrey, The Wizard of Words, from rebel without a clue to one of the most in demand and highest paid Copywriters and Sales Strategists in Australasia… all with the power of his emotionally charged words that sell… Discover the “Secret Weapon” to increasing your Sales and Profits by downloading the valuable report "The Ultimate Copywriting and Marketing Secret" While you're at it, follow Pete on Facebook

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Joshua Zampech April 24, 2012 at 6:51 am

Ain’t that the truth…

You can pin it down to a number of things as to why society seems ‘thicker’ today… But you’d be surprised at what a clean diet and 7-8hrs a sleep a night does to your clarity and intelligence…

Attention spans are very short. People want ‘quick fixes’ and don’t want to wait for anything… But thanks to one of the bonuses in your recent commerical writing letter, I know some killer ways to ‘grab the attention of my market’ and keep them reading!



Pete Godfrey April 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Josh, I eat well mate, healthy stuff. It’s just what I drink that maybe a problem.

Anyway, yeah, I put that bonus in for a reason, because it damn well works. Glad you are enjoying the new Commercial Writing Letter mate…


Dean Kennedy April 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

Great points as always Pete! I definitely have used different language when writing to sell farm sheds than to CIO’s for $100K-plus IT service packages — only gotta (force myself to, as you’ve wisely suggested!) watch the current affairs shows to see the need to assume “dumb” message ingestion. Clients can still think though that “my customers are smarter than that”, not always the case!


Pete Godfrey April 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

They all think their clients are smarter than this mate… but assuming this leaves a lot of money on the table…and as you know mate, in Pete’s World, anything that blocks money is evil.


Mike April 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

You’re right Pete,

And shortened attention spans means we need to lean more heavily on good stories in our marketing.

Good stories are powerful marketing weapons in a market with short attention spans. Nobody can resit a good story.

Here’s a quick short-story formula adapted from Kurt Vonnegut, a great American fiction writer.

1. Use short, succinct sentences that describe a scene visually;

2. Introduce a character who wants something;

3. Create tension.

For example…

Last Tuesday I was bored so I decided to take a bus trip around the coast. I found myself sitting at the bus stop waiting for the number 9 bus. A blue BMW convertible drove up and parked right in front of me. Sitting in the passenger seat was a gorgeous blonde, hair blowing in the breeze, with a smile that could light up your life. A man was driving. Probably her dad. She stepped out of the car, grabbed a small bag from the back and sat next to me on the bench. I could hardly believe my luck. She smiled at me then asked …

There are 106 words in that paragraph but, according to the readability stats in Microsoft word, it’s clear enough for a 4th grader to get the message.

Thanks Pete


Pete Godfrey April 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Yeah good point Mike. Some of my most profitable sales letters have all been story based…and this is where I spend a lot of time.

I’ve also taught the importance of stories at my gigs and in my newsletters. Here’s how I explained it in my Emotional Ad Writing System, which is now a bonus when subscribing to my Emotional Ad Writing & Marketing Letter.

Years ago I studied fiction writing, specialising in short stories. One main point that was drummed into my head was this: There are two critical elements of all great stories…



Okay, that’s fine for short stories, but how can you apply these two elements to your letters? Easy.

You bring tension into your sales piece by highlighting your prospect’s problems. You then agitate these problems to a fever pitch. Work them up a bit and get them very aware of their problems. This creates a palpable tension.

Then comes the discovery.

This is where you reveal the solution to their problems. And the solution is your product.

So when you are writing your sales letter try to wrap your message around a story. Remember, it’s the human interest titbits that get us interested. Not the product. But how the product is used by a person and the results that person gets by using the product.

It’s never about the product … it’s always about the benefits of the product, what the product can do for them and the feelings they get from them.

And you highlight what it can do for them by telling a story of how the product has helped others. You see what you are doing? You are putting people into the equation … real people who have used the product and the changes that occurred in their lives when they did.

This makes your sales pitch so much more interesting … more personable and believable.

P.S. Mike, LOVE Kurt Vonnegut


Mike April 25, 2012 at 12:52 am

Cheers Pete,

Thanks for the explanation.


Pete Godfrey April 26, 2012 at 5:57 am

No worries Mike


Michael Yardney April 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

You make a good point Pete
I am probably Australia’s most published author in the area of property investment and write for some big sites including Yahoo and Property Observer.
But I’ve learned to dumb it down and write at Sunday tabloid level and I write like I speak – staring sentences with and and but, yet it works and my audience buy stuff and my publishers like me


Pete Godfrey April 26, 2012 at 6:00 am

Hey Michael, yes, you definitely are the respected authority in your industry mate… and it’s great you see the importance of writing simply and clearly. Even intelligent people demand easy to understand prose. Hemmingway was a classic example of a writer who said profound things inside a simple sentence.


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