The vast majority of business literature is boring. This applies to printed and web writing alike. It is sometimes tempting to inject a bit of light-heartedness into the text, but it is a dangerous game.
Some time ago, I edited the marketing materials produced by a London hotel. One of the hotel’s attractions was its leisure centre, which included a well-equipped gym. The original script referred to a ‘large satellite TV to give some relief from the torture.‘ Now, I have to admit that I agree with the sentiment. The strange machines in gyms are as painful as they are boring. Nevertheless, this was an unwise piece of ironic humour.
The gym is a selling point to people who already like hard exercise, not to couch potatoes like me. Why present a negative perception of the gym, however obviously it is intended as humour? Of course, it is unlikely to deter the hardened keep-fit fanatic and, no matter how the gym is marketed, I am a lost cause. The big risk is that it puts off someone who is wondering whether to try a gym during a leisure weekend. Reminding them that long-forgotten muscles are going to ache is perhaps not the best selling point.
We changed the brochure to say that the gym has a ‘large satellite TV to keep you entertained.‘ The number of guests using the gym has increased. Enough said!
John Philip has been a writer, editor and educator for over 30 years. He now mainly provides consultancy to businesses, professions and public services and continues to work for befirstgroup.com, which offers writing and editorial services.
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