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  • Writer's pictureBrian Markey

Why do we greet strangers in weird ways?

My wife and I went camping in the Adirondacks this past weekend. On one morning, we took our dog for a walk around the campground loop. A man was walking towards us and as we passed each other, all three of us said "morning" to each other.

An inconsequential interaction, yet I thought about it for a few minutes afterwards. I asked my wife, "isn't weird how we greet people by literally stating the time of day to each other?"

She agreed that it was kind of funny. Sometimes we may say "hello," or, "how are you doing?" But other times, we may only say "morning," "afternoon," or "evening." That is a strange way to interact with anyone if you really think about it. What does stating the time of day do for any conversation. Did the person not know that it was the morning and I felt the need to tell them? Or you can add a "good" at the beginning to spice it up a little bit.

It's sad that I had to look this up and it may be obvious, but apparently saying "good morning" means that I am wishing that someone would have a good morning. That makes sense, to pass by strangers and politely state that you hope they have a good morning. And since a lot of us crave efficiency, we shorten it even more to just "morning."

What is my point? Copywriting is all about efficiency. People have very short attention spans. According to research, the average amount of time that someone will pay attention to a webpage is eight seconds. EIGHT SECONDS!

The text you use on your website, in advertisements, and on social media have very little time to grab the attention of the reader. Your words have to be powerful and meaningful.

Take a moment to examine the copy on one page of your website, or in one social media post, or one marketing email that you have sent. Do you throw in needless phrases and words to add to the length? Look at a sentence and ask, "does this piece lose meaning if I exclude this sentence?"

Your copy should be concise and clear. The way "morning" is short for "good morning," which in turn is short for "I wish you a good morning," what extra clutter can you cut out while still getting the same meaning across. But make sure that it is still clear. I was slightly unclear as to why we say the time of day to people in greeting, (though I guess if I had thought about it more, I would have thought of the correct reason eventually).

If you are looking for someone to help you cut out the clutter of unnecessary words and grab the attention of your readers, I would love to work with you. Head to the Contact page and send me a message about what you are looking for!

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